Thursday, January 20, 2011

Will I raise my kids in my faith?

Most of you know that I was not raised as a Catholic. Rather, I converted into the faith as a teenager, though I had been exposed as a child via Catholic school and various Catholic relatives. Still, my parents ultimately gave me the choice. I have to say, I hold a ton of respect for them for not forcing us into a religion that they couldn't even bring themselves to subscribe to (unfortunately, I've seen that happen to many of my peers). Of course, because I was allowed to have a choice, people ask me if I would extend the same choice to my own children.

I have been conflicted for awhile. You see, I want my kids to be able to appreciate faith and I know I appreciated it because I chose it. However, my parents also chose to raise me with their values (hard work, education, humility, propriety, a willingness to serve, and a willingness to question) and I have to say, if they hadn't, I would not have been able to make the choices I have made. If I brought this attitude of appreciation into the lives of my children, from baptism on, they could very well choose to appreciate faith.

What about the hard questions, questions I still hold? What about when my kids start questioning, particularly if my daughters want to know why they can't be priests or if my kids come out to me? I will tell them what the Church says (and why, people seem to forget that) but that their mom also struggles with these things. I will encourage them to keep studying (from a variety of sources) and keep looking for answers. I will encourage them to pray. If their prayers lead them elsewhere, I will support it, but only if they've honestly sought and studied (not because they want to sleep in on Sunday or play video games all day). I at least want to bring them up with the basic values, traditions and practices of my beliefs so that it serves as a firm foundation for the rest of their lives. And they will KNOW it. Mama Katie will make sure they KNOW what's in the Bible, what's in the Catechism, what Pope Whomever is saying. They're not going to be like the kids who go through Confirmation without knowing even what all seven Sacraments are.

What about the priest scandals? Look, those piss me off as much as they pissed anyone off. And the deflection I saw from the top was enough to make me wanna buy a baseball bat and scare the living daylights out of anyone who even LOOKS at a child inappropriately. It was even more maddening to see my own diocese go through scandal after scandal after scandal. What were they THINKING??? At the same time, they are also in danger of abuse from teachers, from relatives, from family friends, from strangers. Let's face it, it's downright terrifying to be a parent sometimes. What I can do is educate my children that, if someone says something to them or touches them in ways that make them feel uncomfortable, they are to tell me immediately. That they don't have to worry about protecting the other person, that we will do everything to keep them safe. That includes, ESPECIALLY includes, those who have a hand in the spiritual formation of my kids.

All in all, I want my kids to grow up knowing that faith in SOMETHING is important. They need something that grounds them, centers them, and something they can turn to in all aspects of life. I can at least give them the basics. When they're older, the rest is up to them (and God).

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