When I read blogs of parents encouraging vocations in their children, I can’t help but feel a little inadequate. These blogs have many wonderful ideas I wish we had done when our children were younger. For example, I wish we have said “What do you think God wants you to be?” instead of “What do you want to be?”
As parents, the list of things we did wrong is much longer than the things we did right. So it is easier to share this short list of things that I can see now had a positive impact in the long run.
I know a religious vocation does not come from anything overt that parents did or didn’t do, but from the Holy Spirit. With the youngest in seminary, the other 2 appear to have grown into responsible, compassionate and generous young adults. So, I can’t help but think, “We must have done something right.” Looking back, I have come up with a list of things that in the long run seems to have had a positive impact.
Number one has to be attending catholic schools.
I know many vocations come from those who attended public schools. But, after putting 3 children through 12 years of catholic education I can’t help but reflect on all the positive benefits not available in public schools.
The example of the sisters, priests and lay teachers was a powerful factor as well as the transmission of our values and beliefs. But the other factor is related to the cost and sacrifice related to attending catholic school. Here are a few examples:
They saw our family sacrifice to pay for catholic education. When they would complain about not going on a fancy vacation or getting a new car, we would remind them that we have decided to spend our money differently: sending them to catholic school.
Buying school uniforms every year was always difficult. We utilized the donated uniforms at grade school and high school while donating what they had outgrown. Looking back, I realize the kids never complained. It was just accepted that this was a way to help with the expenses of a catholic education.
We never allowed any disrespect or criticism of priests, religious sisters or any authority figure in their life. If a child made a negative comment in this regard, it was addressed immediately.
Weekly mass This is a no brain-er in our home. Even on vacation, we would plan where we would be able to go to Sunday mass.
Supporting and encouraging participating as altar servers and in youth group.
Actively participating in the life of the parish. I can honestly say we did not do this to specifically “encourage vocations.” At best, we thought it was part of showing them how to be a responsible adult.
Encouraging service to others
They were expected to shovel snow for their grandfather & other elderly neighbors and refuse money. They helped to gather and deliver donations to those less fortunate at Goodwill, donating to homeless shelters and pro-life baby showers.
Using a death in the family as a way to share more deeply in the application of our faith.
Our children lost a beloved grandfather suddenly. We shared our sorrow and grief with them, but communicated that we were happy he was in heaven with God.
Please know that the contributing authors on this blog pray daily for parents of discerning sons and daughters to find peace and understanding.