We have officially kicked off a new season in this parenting journey. Our youngest is ten years old and our oldest is 24, the age I was when my husband and I got married!
Our adult to kid ratio has changed abruptly from 2:5 to 5:2 and the dynamics of this change have become more pronounced during this unexpected extended time under one roof.
For the first decade of parenting we received a few quips and knowing looks from veteran parents who insisted that the teenage years were something to be dreaded. Having now parented kids from infancy through to young adulthood, we can admit to facing challenges at all the stages we cycled through. We also recognize and remember the many joys, which is why we are hopeful and excited to embrace any new challenges and joys that this new season has in store for us.
We need to be prayer warriors for them first and foremost, and rather than scrambling to have all the answers to their numerous questions, we need to encourage them to develop their own healthy prayer lives.
With our five kids we have braved the years of diapers and tantrums, celebrated the many firsts and all their little victories. We’ve tentatively tread through new challenges, hormones, heartbreaks, and disappointments. We’ve been “hero support” as they pursued their passions, and a sounding board to their explorations. Through all this, we continued to strive to be their anchor in matters of the Faith.
Now that our kids are older and the dynamics of our relationships with them and between them are changing, we are actively trying to nurture their strengths and encourage them to learn from one another. We are all trying to keep each other accountable through good communication. We’re still very much a work in progress, but I will say that we feel very blessed that our young adults are good friends; we’ve seen them get even closer during this time that we’ve all been together at home.
As the kids are getting older, we’re continuing to support and direct them, but we are gradually realizing our limited capacity to ease their struggles or straighten their paths, especially as they navigate the escalating social justice issues of our time and where they stand personally and politically.
Though some of our kids are adults now, we’re still trying to steer them within our Catholic family values. We do however, find ourselves increasingly butting heads with the influence of peers and social media. Even so, we believe that it is our duty as parents to continue to weigh in with our perspective, especially when it’s counter-cultural and vastly underrepresented among their other influences.
During these last months, we have felt a greater need for deeper discussions, more open communication, and have all been challenged to make a greater effort toward understanding one another.
We are praying more intensely than ever for our kids and for their spiritual lives and maturation.
We need to be prayer warriors for them first and foremost, and rather than scrambling to have all the answers to their numerous questions, we need to encourage them to develop their own healthy prayer lives. They need to build their own prayer habits and learn to take their biggest concerns and decisions to the Lord, asking Him to guide them to live out His perfect will for their lives.
We want them to know how to seek God’s will, how to prayerfully discern big life decisions, and how to surrender their concerns, and trust in Him. The most compelling way to teach our kids this is by modelling this prayer ourselves: surrendering the deepest concerns we have for them and trusting in God.
In fact, this isn’t the first time we’ve grown spiritually in the process of guiding our children in the Faith. While encouraging them to establish their own prayer habits, we’ve also discovered our own practical plan for more consistent prayer from the heart, and it’s all documented in my newest book, Prompt Me to Pray.
As we all pursue a deeper and more intimate relationship with Jesus, we’re all learning more about prayer.
When we pray, “Jesus, I trust in You,” all the while coordinating our best backup plan just in case, we’re not actually trusting in Jesus.
When we pray ,“Jesus, I trust in You,” we can’t expect that things will work out exactly the way we want.
When we pray, “Jesus, I trust in You,” we’re not simply seeking His Advice to carry out our own plans in the best way possible. We are working to truly embrace His glorious plan for all of us.
We need to be ready to let go of the imaginary control we think we have in a given situation, remain confident in His Love for us, and with expectant Faith know that He wants what is best for us.
We just need to trust.
In matters concerning our children, no matter what age, we remind ourselves that He loves them even more than we do. While we can ask Him to continue to use us to guide and help our kids, we hope that the way we formed them in the Faith during their early years has taught them to always take their concerns and decisions to God in prayer.
Monica and her husband Bill are the founders of Arma Dei, a Catholic apostolate focused on helping other families celebrate their Catholic faith using a variety of tools and resources, including craft kits, quizzing cards, books, and more. Monica features her creations and family traditions in her personal blog, Equipping Catholic Families. She is the author of A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families, and the brand new title, Prompt Me to Pray: A Practical Plan for More Consistent Prayer from the Heart. Monica and Bill have five children and live in the same little town in which she grew up in.