As much as we do our best to raise our children to stay active in the Church, sometimes they drift away. And sometimes your children don’t find their way back before they have children themselves.
It can break your heart to see your loved ones, especially your children and grandbabies, not find their place in the Church and chose (or not be given the choice) to leave its teachings behind.
(Thankfully, we have the examples of numerous saints who left the Church and found their way back – they would be happy to pray for your family! St. Monica, Pray for Us!)
Which brings up the question; how do you honor your Catholic faith while being respectful of your children’s distance from the Church and the choice to raise their own kids away from the Church?
This may be a non-issue in some families and a larger one in others. Whatever the case is with your own, here is some advice on how to navigate your family and your faith.
How to Honor your faith while Respecting your Family.
Talk with your Adult Children
Keep it relaxed: Take a drive together, grab a coffee, go on a hike and have a chat.
No matter where you have your conversation, you do need to have a talk with your children on what they are comfortable with their family experiencing of the Catholic faith.
As much as you love those grandkids, you aren’t their parents.
You don’t get to choose the schools, set the bedtime, decide on screen time, and make them eat the vegetables before the cookies. (Thank goodness you don’t have to worry about all that! You can still do ice cream for dinner and let them watch a movie past bedtime)
You do get to learn how your kids want to raise their children – trust me, you did a great job with your own. You will be so proud of what they have learned from you, regardless of if they sit with you at Mass or not.
This is your chance to let them experience Christ-like love and patience from you. Listen to what they have to say without judgment or interjections. Just sit and really focus on what it is they would like for their family. Learn their expectations and ask questions to clarify what they want.
Your son and/or daughter will appreciate that you are listening and respecting them and the conversation.
Be Just as clear with your expectations
It is still your house and your faith. Take into consideration what your children have told you but let them know what the non-negotiables are for you in your faith. What you will continue to do: going to Mass every Sunday, praying before meals, evening Rosary, etc.
Work with each other on what each of you are willing to do for the other to respect everyone’s needs.
– Grandkids are allowed to go to Mass but not to CCD or bible school.
– Praying before meals is fine, just don’t make the kids say the prayer (if they join you in saying it, that is a blessing!).
– The grandkids can sit and read while you pray your Rosary.
Decide together how you will answer your grandkids questions about Catholic beliefs and practices
Knowing how, or if your children even want you to, answer the grandkids questions is a good thing to find out. Some people are just really particular. It is also best to avoid the, ‘But Grandma said…’ in that tone that only a sassy preschooler can muster.
I know this seems like a lot of up-front work, but you want to keep and build on the relationship you have with you children and grandchildren. By respecting their wishes and giving them space from feeling whatever they feel about the Church – you are leaving space for God to do His work.
Let Him work through you and your new connection to your children; them as parents and you as grandparents, to guide them back to Him in His time.