Peter Kreeft is one of the best Catholic apologists of this generation. He is intelligent, witty, joyful, creative, and humorous. He is capable of writing impressive dissertations such as his classic Catholic Christianity which brilliantly articulates the teachings in the Catechism in ways few others are able. He is also capable of transmitting his wit and knowledge in a far more casual manner thanks to Twitter his account, @professorkreeft, which provides a steady stream of easily digestible tidbits sure to engage someone at any stage of their spiritual life.
I just came across what has been a presentation of his (at least to my knowledge). It’s called How to Raise Catholic Children and provides points for parents to consider in the formation of their ‘domestic church’. Enjoy and make sure to share with fellow parents!
HOW TO RAISE CATHOLIC KIDS
by Peter Kreeft
1. Treat them as what they are. They’re the King’s kids. You’re His foster parents. They’re not pets, or problems, or products. You don’t “raise” kids, you raise cattle. Love the Hell out of them. Love them twice as much every day as you did the day before.
2. Be Catholic yourself; you can’t give what you don’t have. Believe it, love it, live it. Don’t be ashamed of it, or worried about it. Actively assume it, like the air you breathe, so you don’t have to either push it, like a time share salesperson, or be skittery and worried about it, like someone accused in court. It’s not a product any more than your kids are. It’s truth and goodness and beauty. It’s a Person. His name is Jesus. If you don’t know Him, you don’t know the Faith and you can’t pass it on.
3. So get to know Him better. How? Pray more, and more honestly and passionately. For them and for yourself. God waits to give us good things until we pray for them.
4. Pray WITH them: at meals, at bedtime when they’re very young, and at special occasions, especially great joys and sorrows. When they’re young give them short prayers to say every day.
5. The one thing parents always wonder about is: how strict and how permissive should we be? The answer varies in practice but not in principle. The principle is obvious: treat them like kids, not like infants OR adults, not like devils OR angels – OR animals. The basic principle of all practice is to treat everything and everyone as what they really are. To do that, you have to look at them, listen to them, and feel what they feel. You don’t read a book on parenting and then apply it, like a car repair manual. They’re not cars, and they’re not broken, they’re just slow and sinful and stupid, like you.
6. Assume high standards. Kids respond to that: to honor, to do the right thing just because it’s the right thing, and to actively refuse to do the wrong thing just because it’s the wrong thing, not because there will be rewards and punishments that YOU attach. Truth comes first, you and they come second.
7. Cultivate good Catholic friends for them and for yourself. Peer pressure is very strong for teenagers.
8. Send them to good Catholic schools, even though it breaks your budget. But check out the teachers and the course content and the textbooks. Beware of truthlessness in labeling. Many schools call themselves Catholic just to get 30 pieces of silver from parents. Remember that advertising is the world’s oldest profession, invented by the Devil in the Garden of Eden.
9. Give them good books. Leave a lot of good books around the house. And movies.
10. Talk to them about your faith as passionately as you talk to them about your favorite baseball team. Even if they show a little embarrassment at the time, they’ll remember and respect it later. Words are like seeds. They may not grow instantly, but once they’re in the ground, that’s what they do.
11. The main problem everybody has with the Faith today is sex. Be both realistic and idealistic about that. Learn the Church’s Theology of the Body so you can talk to them from the Big Picture. The single most important principle in talking to your kids about sex is to be totally honest with them and with God at the same time.
12. Do what Mary did in the Presentation: put them in God’s hands.