Beyond being a proud stepdad to three wonderful young adults, parenthood – the 24/7, down-and-dirty real thing – is not and will not be part of my life. But I know for certain one thing my parents did right for me: they took me to church.
Despite moving several times, my parents continually had me and my two brothers attend Catholic mass with them until I hit age 16. For the most part, I found the experience a stand-up/sit-down/recite-this-standard-prayer exercise in boredom.
What probably didn’t help is that the experience didn’t seem much more interesting to my parents. The meaning and significance of a Catholic mass was never explained to me (I’m not sure Mom and Dad understood it, either), so when they told us we were old enough to decide for ourselves whether we wanted to keep attending, the result was no surprise. All of us brothers said “no thanks” and for me, that was the end of church for many years.
But the seed of something deep and spiritual was planted and, I’m glad to write, has blossomed into such significance that it influenced who I married and where I go to work.
So, I remain grateful for what Mom and Dad did all those decades ago, especially when I read a National Post blog by Barbara Kay on the subject of children and faith. One paragraph, in particular, stood out:
“Children are not satisfied with chaos theory or moral relativism. They want order, a system, a precise identity (my friend’s grandchild told a schoolmate he was ‘half Jewish, half Christmas’). They need an infallible ‘GPS’ to navigate their way through ‘mean’ playmates, unfair or insensitive teaching, the troubling deaths of pets and family members, rumours of war and natural disasters.”
So, imagine if I hadn’t had a childhood GPS? And just as important for young parents, imagine if your children don’t have a GPS? That’s why I write that even if you’re not quite sure where you stand with Christianity, even if you still have a ton of unanswered questions, even if some things make you scratch your head in confusion, set them aside and take your children to church.
If they aren’t regularly exposed to Sunday services, they will likely miss the chance to decide for themselves about a life of faith, about who Jesus is, and about the value of following Him. You will have made the decision for them, on a matter I believe is of supreme importance.
As Ms. Kay put it in her blog, “There is nothing to be lost in gifting children with God and religion, but much to be gained – for them as individuals and for society as a whole.”
Agree? Disagree? Put your thoughts in a comment below and let’s have a conversation.