Handing a pair of red gym shoes to my oldest, I fully expected him to quickly lace them up and take off running through the store in his typical all-boy fashion. Instead, he paused during our back-to-school shopping adventure, uncertain if he should share the thoughts that were clearly bothering him.
“I don’t really like them …”
“What? Why not? I thought you liked red?”
Another drawn-out pause. “The kids at school make fun of me when I wear that brand.”
At 9 years old, my sweet boy just wants people to like him. And it’s not like I can blame him. It’s not easy going against the crowd. Yet, while the choice of which gym shoes to buy may be a relatively small matter, I know that the pressures of school don’t end there.
That’s why I’m going to do everything within my power to give him the firm foundation he needs to resist peer pressure, navigate relationships with friends, encounter different worldviews, or simply try to live out his faith in the classroom and on the playground. Here’s my plan to do just that:
1. Begin the school year with prayer
While I’ve always prayed for my children, this year I want to be more intentional about praying with my children as well. Morning prayers over Cheerios. Evening prayers while we watch the news. Bedtime prayers as they snuggle under warm covers. Every day provides so many opportunities to model the joys and the benefits of a real, authentic prayer life for my children. I don’t want them to miss out.
2. Process the day together
Want to know a secret? I never used to look forward to picking my children up from school at the end of the day. We’d all be a little tired, a little hungry, a little grouchy, and I always wanted to get home as soon as possible. Until I realized what a valuable time of day this really is.
You see, at the end of each school day, the day’s events are still fresh in my children’s minds. And if I listen patiently and ask the right questions, all the day’s struggles and joys will eventually come spilling out of them, providing me not only with an opportunity to stay involved in my children’s lives but also an opportunity to provide godly perspective, advice, and direction for the situations they face every single day.
3. Read books as a family
Of course, not every topic I want to talk to my children about will naturally come up in conversation. And even when topics do, that doesn’t mean I’ll always know what to say! Thankfully, this is where trustworthy Christian books can be extremely helpful.
Looking for Catholic book recommendations? Here are a few faith-building books perfect for reading as a family:
- “My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories” by Heidi Hess Saxton is a great way to introduce young children to a number of Bible stories in language they can understand.
- “Saints for Young Readers for Every Day” by Susan Helen Wallace is a great read-aloud way to inspire your children with the lives of the saints.
- “Tell Me About the Catholic Faith: From the Bible to the Sacraments” (various authors) provides interesting facts and information about the Catholic faith in general.
From teaching my children how to read the Bible to answering the hundreds of questions they have about our faith and how it plays out in real life, preparing my kids for the real world isn’t always easy. But every time I make nurturing their child-like faith a priority, I’m always glad I did!