BY MARY LOU ROSIEN
- Parents are the first educators of their children.
We recognize your ability and desire to form your children in the Catholic Faith; we want to assist you. We want to overcome the idea that teens can be dropped off for faith formation and the experience is limited to a few hours in a youth group program. Help us to help you by providing opportunities for your own continued faith formation. Remember, children imitate their parents; if you frequent the sacraments (especially Eucharist and Confession) they will see it as a normal part of a Catholic life. A 2000 Swiss study showed that children who have parents (especially fathers) that attend Mass, continue to attend Mass themselves as adults.
- We will be teaching the Catholic Faith.This should not come as a surprise. There are many contradictory messages being thrown at our children through our culture and the media and by other people they may know. This makes it a challenge to teach the truths of the Catholic Faith to teens. Many saints encountered risks defending the Faith, even losing their lives. We are also obligated to teach those same truths, even when unpopular. We need your support when tackling tough subjects like marriage, Theology of the Body, temperance, and dignity of all people (including pro-life ethics — protecting life from conception to natural death).
3. Don’t let a difficult family situation stop you from encouraging your children in the Faith.
Those of us who work in youth ministry have seen all kinds of families and situations. We have walked with our teens through some of the most difficult situations imaginable: parent’s divorce or desertion, anxiety issues, abuse issues, concerns about depression, or even suicide. Please let us help you when you are struggling! We are your church family and we are here to support you as much as your children. When going through times of stress, it is easy to let go of the things you might consider optional. Youth ministry should not be on that list. Your children need a safe space with support; we can help. In difficult times faith can be an anchor, this is true for your children, too.
- Tell us how to help you.
We understand your family might have needs we are unaware of. Please trust us to help you get connected to resources that might help. Churches often have links to financial resources, counselors, food cupboards, even lists of babysitters. We cannot help if we don’t know what needs you have. If your need is for prayer, we can help. If you need to increase your own knowledge of what the Church teaches, we can help. Ask.
- We are not perfect and we need your help, too.
We are human too. We make mistakes; we get burned out; we don’t always communicate well. Tell us when you feel we have taken a misstep. Volunteer to help, if possible. Please, be forgiving. Youth ministry is a complicated endeavor. Yet we would not be doing this if we did not love your kids, and believe in this mission.
On the flip side: Youth ministers, here are ways your parishes can support parents:
- Adult classes on faith
- Parent nights of praise, worship, and Adoration
- Opportunities for Confession
MARY LOU ROSIEN is a Catholic author and speaker with a masters certificate in catechesis. Her experience as a catechist includes being an RCIA coordinator, Confirmation instructor, pre-Cana instructor, and assisting in youth ministry. Find her website at CatholicFamilyBootcamp.com.
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