One of the things that I've found the most vexatious in my career as a parish priest is when parents stop coming to church with their children after the kids have received Confirmation. Many times, of course, the parents stop coming, too. It's as if some holy ticket has now been punched and that there are no more reasons to join in corporate worship, Gospel-centered community activity, or even the exploration and deepening of one's character and relationships. There are no more reasons to be a Christian, apparently, which negates to gibberish all of the vows they promised at their Confirmation.
words, by having your child stand before the congregation and make
sacred promises, and then enabling them never to have to live the vows,
you've made them into a liar. What will they do the next time they
stand in public and make promises? You know, like at their induction
ceremony or wedding? Will those vows be lies, too?
this is not about professional frustration on my part. Rather, it's
about a colossal sense of pity and, I freely confess, borderline
contempt for parents who so badly manage the most important years of
their kids' lives. The parents actively choose to remove themselves and
their children from any community of faith and self-excommunicate from
the sacrament. They give them a taste of religion during their
childhood and then, just as their questions and their wonder begin to
ripen, jerk it away from them.
Parents, you allow your children to become neutered Christians just when they're about to become interesting.
Now, I know the excuses:
1. They have sports on Sunday mornings.
2. We're very busy.
3. It's hard to get them going on Sundays; I'm tired of fighting with them.
4. There isn't much for their age group at church.
Well, whose fault is that? Speaking as a former coach, recreation
commissioner, and parent of sporty kids, it's the parents who ultimately
determine the parameters of any sports program. If you let some coach
or league official dictate a Sabbath-free life for your offspring, many
times because the coach needs to feel a surge of self-importance and
control, you've made the coward's choice.
dislike mentioning this, but the odds are 99.999% that your kid will
never be more than ordinary at a sport, so put away those dreams of a
luxury box for players' families in Foxboro or wherever. When he or she
is an adult and facing adult issues, that smelly jersey or those
disreputable sneakers will not address them. A foundation in faith
2. I know you and, I hate to break it to you, but you're not busy.
You're not even half as busy as my wife and I were when we were raising
more children than you. Raising them in a household of two
clergy, I might add, when both of us could not take the day off nor be late for
church. You're not as busy as were my parents, my dad with three jobs
and my mom with two; you are not as busy as grandparents were, running
both a farm and a furniture-making business.
Also, what's your kid doing? Reading Moby Dick? If your kid can name at least two Kardashians, you aren't busy and neither are they.
3. They learn that from you, so own it. You can fix it, but I think it's more your problem than it is theirs.
That's because they don't come to church. If they did, they would be
able to, like young adults anywhere on the planet, organize with other
young adults and actually do mature and appropriate things. Sleeping
late or playing with a smart phone just turns your offspring into a