Building the Faith of Our Children

It’s a weighty job, this parenting gig.  We teach them to share and get along with each other.  To read and tie their shoes.  To manage money and be responsible with time.  But as Christians, we know that the end is just the beginning. Our real job?  The most important thing?  We want our children to live with Jesus in heaven, eternally!

No pressure.

I’m honored to be participating in this new monthly series, The Faith of Our Children, with the following inspiring bloggers.  Be sure to visit them to see what they have to say this week about employing faith traditions in their own families.

As for our family, as much as I’d like to proclaim hard and fast traditions that have surely paved the path to streets of gold, well… we’re still learning. Our Christian faith is important though, and we do work hard to share it with our children.

Prayer Tradition

Just yesterday, in the middle of a wheat field with two other families, our 8 year old took a few bites of her supper and looked at me with round eyes.  “Mom, we forgot to pray!”  I’m glad she knows that giving thanks is important, even in the middle of a field at the peak of harvest.

Praying before meals is one tradition we work hard to maintain.  My husband also has a sweet time of prayer with each child individually as he tucks them in at night.  This is a special daddy thing, and I’ve often thought “I couldn’t love that man more!” as he bends over our little ones before they sleep.  On nights he’s out late due to a coaching commitment, I get the privilege of subbing.  I’ve caught him more than once, though, with a hand on their sleeping figures and a prayer on his lips late at night.

Church Tradition

Well, now.  It’s come to this.  Some of you will likely be quite surprised with my next statements, because it’s not something that has really come up here before.  I trust that you’ll gush the grace and reign in the rash judgement.  Here goes…

I’m Catholic.  My husband is protestant. We’re a dual denomination family, if you will, with different church traditions.  There is much that could be said about that.  Another post (or twelve), maybe.  For now, just know that through all the trials that come with our unique situation (and yes, of course there are many) there is this:  What unites us in our Christian faith is oh, so much more than what divides us in the details.

Also, know that our children may very well be the most well-churched kids in the county.  ;)  Yes, we respect each other and encourage each other, and strive to teach the children both traditions.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it perfect?  No.  Are we following God’s will for our family?  We’re sure giving it our all, seeking his guidance every step of the way!

In addition to attending two different churches with as much regularity as we can muster, our older children participate in Sunday school each week, and PSR (the Catholic “Sunday school” if you will) on Wednesdays during the school year.  It’s a lot, but it’s what works for our family.

The kids and I also have a blast each summer at our week-long Vacation Bible School, where all three churches in Tiny Town come together for a fun time of praise and learning.  I’m thrilled with our community’s effort in this ecumenical endeavor.

Holiday Traditions

Admittedly, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are pretty popular characters ’round these parts, but Jesus trumps all.

The way things have worked out, the highlight of our Christmas celebration is most often attending Christmas Eve Mass at my childhood church, and participating in the Easter Sunrise service, complete with a raging bonfire overlooking a picturesque pond, hosted by the Methodist church in town.  It works for us, and our children look forward to these special events each year.

Our situation is unique, to be sure.  Our traditions, though, are rooted in faith, hope, and love.  It is our sincerest prayer that our children walk with the King!

What special faith traditions do your family enjoy?

 

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Comments

  1. charity crawford says:

    I mean this rude in no such way just curious…Please forgive me ahead of time if you become offended and i understand if you do not post this…It says the husband is to be the head of the home he is the authoritative say on final decisions do you not believe you are going against your husbands authority by attending a church away from him? “A house divided cannot stand” Even if both of you agree and say it is OK do you not think it may be confusing your children? God wants us to be together as a family in all the decisions we make especially when it comes to worshiping him. Again I just get a little curious sometimes on others view of things and that is how I learn so hope no offense is taken.

    • “God wants us to be together as a family in all the decisions we make especially when it comes to worshiping him.” Agreed. And that is why we work so hard to make these decisions together, and support each other. We knew it would be interesting when we committed to this marriage! No offense taken. ;) This is something we live with on a daily basis.

      Confusing for the children? Very possibly! But we trust that by emphasizing our common denominators, God will take care of the details. In the end, we hope they are knowledgeable and well-equipped to make their own decisions as they grow and mature.

      • charity crawford says:

        Thanks you are so sweet! I knew you would have a great answer. I love to learn and that’s how I grow.

  2. Christi says:

    Amy, thank you for your courage in sharing your own family’s religious calling. Our family mirrors yours: I am Catholic and my husband is Protestant. We have long seen the commonalities between our denominations, rather than the details that could been seen as divisive from the outside. It is challenging and delicate and requires much mutual respect and true love of the Lord to bridge those gaps and present a united spiritual front for our children, but I truly know it is worth the effort. God brought me this wonderful man to marry and have children with, knowing that one difference in our relationship would be the “title” of our faith traditions. I just wanted to support and encourage you in the same way that your sharing encouraged me this morning. It is nice to feel know that there are others journeying along the same path! Blessings, Christi.

  3. How wonderful that your children will have the opportunity to celebrate the core of Christianity more than the minutiae. I simply cannot believe that our Lord is up there going, “Now, those Presbytarians (or insert any denomination you’d like), now THEY’RE the only ones who got it right!” ;)

    • I love this statement! I think as long as you are having a relationship with God he could care less where you choose to worship. A very wise lady told me a long time ago that I didn’t need to go to a church to be able to talk to God.

    • God is SO much bigger than the earthly rules and limitations and whatnot that we carve out in the name of serving Him. Wow, just even typing that feels ridiculous.

  4. What a big job we do have! That is of course, as it is any christian parents I’m sure, my biggest prayer too. When I’m praying for their health and safety, it always ends with but most of all Lord, I pray they know and love You with faith that can move mountains. I fear as adults their world is going to be much harder on their faith. And I pray I can give them a firm enough foundation that it will not falter under any type of persecution.

    On another note, good for you guys for finding a compromise that works. I honestly hate the denomination labels. I prefer Christian when asked because that’s what we all are. As long as the church teaches that Jesus died and rose again for our sins and IS the son of God does it really matter what the sign outside the church says! I’m positive it doesn’t to the Big Man Himself! : )

    • Yes! We joke that the first thing we’ll ask Jesus when we get to heaven is “Ok, now. Who’s right?!” But then we laugh that because we’ll be so busy BEING WITH JESUS in heaven that NONE of this will matter in the first place!

  5. Thank you for sharing. We were the opposite, I am protestant and my husband is Catholic. We were married protestant, but I converted to Catholicism when we moved back to his home town a year after we were married. I often wish, though, that I had maintained my faith and just did both, like you. We thought it would be better for our children to be in a one denomination household, but I often feel like something is missing. It is a big cause of contention between us. I just try hard to let it go and remember that I’m sacrificing for a reason. I must say it is pretty difficult, though.

    • I’m not going to tell you what to do, but yes, it IS hard. Neither of us feels comfortable converting, so we’re simply doing the best we can with what we have and learning a lot along the way!

  6. Amy~ I think you are giving the kids a wonderful foundation by exposing them to the two denominations. As far as I can tell they are turning out to be strong in faith, not confused at all. Good job momma!!

  7. This is fantastic! My fiance and I are getting married next Saturday, and I am Catholic and he is Protestant. We’ve been looking and looking for others in our situation, but we surprisingly haven’t found any. Most of our friends are Protestant, and are marrying each other, and my Catholic friends so far have only married fellow Catholics. I hope you post more about how you two make it work, because sometimes I’m just at a loss.

    • Hopefully I will gather the courage to write more on that. Thanks so much for the encouragement!

      • Amy,
        You definitely should muster it up – so many people need your wisdom and encouragement, I guarantee it. :) My mom is a “nothing” and dad is Catholic; interesting in other ways.

        Thank you for the post! :) Katie

      • I would also really like to see posts on this subject. I am Catholic (and single), almost everyone I know and dated have been Protestant. It’s never caused any problems, but I worry that it will when I do find the right person. I want to raise my family in the traditions and beliefs I was raised in, but I worry that my husband will feel the same way, and I won’t know how to handle it.

        Thanks for always being so honest with us! I look forward to this series!

        ~Elizabeth~

        • Thank you for your encouragement. Definitely not easy to talk about something that I *know* will cause a rift or two. ;)

  8. It’s funny you would post this today. Or maybe it’s funny I posted about what I posted about today. My Finer things in Life is about how my older kids volunteer at VBS every year. They are 19, 16 and 14. They love our Catholic faith and love sharing it. It’s such a wonderful thing to see! :) Great post!

    I also want to say, I’m so excited that the Catholic Church is finally starting to teach about our beautiful faith more. It’s such an exciting time for our kids and us… to really learn why we as Catholics do what we do. It is an amazing and beautiful faith. :) I love it!

    PS ~ We are all learning ~ one day at a time. :) So excited about the new posts.

    • Knowledge is power. I’ve always been frustrated that converts know much more than I do. Being married to my (fabulous) protestant hubby has given me new reason to dig in and learn, and that has been so good for both of us.

  9. Thank you for sharing some of your family’s religious story. I was raised Protestant (Calvinist), became interested in the Anglican tradition, spent a semester in Egypt learning about Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and came home wondering about Catholicism. I would say I’ve been all over the Christian map! In doing so, I have formed a strong conviction that what really unites believers around the world is Jesus Christ. I just can’t find it in me to throw stones over doctrine…not when I’m so far from blameless myself. Thanks again for your openness. :)

  10. I NEVER comment, but had to this time. I am a product of a Catholic/Prodestant household that sounds very similar to yours. As a kid I loved being apart of both worship communities. I’m now so grateful for the opportunity to know the importance of my faith and not my religion. My Catholic husband and I attend a wonderful Catholic church with our 3 kids, but I try to instill this knowledge in them too. I feel I got the best of both worlds and I’m sure your kids will feel the same.

    • Oh, friend. I’m crying now! Thank you so very much for encouragement from “the other side.” It’s rough sometimes when we can only pray that we are doing what’s best for our family. So thankful to hear from you!

  11. The prayer tradition is so huge! I was secretly watching our 2 1/2 year old play with her Little People family one day last week. It warmed my heart to see that she made the family sit down to dinner, pray, and then I heard Isabelle’s little voice say loudly “A BEN!” (amen). They’re watching everything we do, whether we realize it or not!

  12. I have to admit that I definitely wondered where you stood when you posted that “Works based Salvation” link. I think traditions have their place in family life but faith should just be lived out every day. Of course you can use traditions to teach about your faith. Another thing though – faith seems like such a generic word these days. What does that mean? You can have faith in lots of things. Faith in God, in Jesus, in Buddah, in the environment, whatever you feel like having faith in. If we are going to talk about faith, then lets really talk about it. I am honestly not trying to be combative, but there is so much misinformation and so much “do what feels right to you” out there that people are not getting the real Message.

    • “Faith should just be lived out every day” I agree with that 100%. “Preach the gospel, use words when necessary” is one of my favorite quotes. *living* my daily walk with Jesus is incredibly important to me, and I do hope that is a vibe readers get when they visit here. What you will NOT get here is the hard and fast, my way or the highway teaching. (If you’re looking for theological debate, I’m sure I can seek sources for you from people much more knowledgeable and passionate about the details than I am. Please let me know if I can help with that.)

      I’m not perfect, and until I’m in heaven I’m convinced that I will not know 100% who’s “right” and who’s “wrong,” but my guess is that those of us who love the Lord are going to have a fabulous time rejoicing that the strife is over!

  13. (((HUGS))), Amy. I know this was something that you probably prayed over sharing with everyone so publicly. It can be hard knowing how people will react.

    Loved reading about your family’s faith building!

  14. Hi Amy,

    I found this post through a link and am so glad I did! I am Protestant and my husband is Catholic, and we have 3 children. We entered marriage this way, and there are NO expectations that either one of us will convert. It is tough though, because people who aren’t in this situation assume there are many more “issues” in the marriage than there actually are! We too focus on our similarities (which are SO numerous!) and always continue the theological conversations. As I put it to a concerned inquirer when I got engaged, I have less in common with people of other Protestant denominations than I do with my husband! Labels truly mean nothing. Our children are being raised in both churches, and I am so excited about this because my hope is that they will grow up with NO bias or negative view of other denominations. As a group, Christians really need to get past judging people based on the Church Label they give themselves. We need to stop assuming we know exactly what a person believes because we know which denomination they belong to.

    Thank you for posting, I too have had trouble writing about it on my blog. And yet, I sit here thinking there must be others out there in our same situation! Sometimes we have trouble finding friends because we find out a bit into the relationship that X-Protestant person feels it their mission to convert my husband, or Y-Catholic feels they need to give me lots of books and links and cds to help me understand why I need to be Catholic. As if my husband and I don’t talk theology all the time!!! Lol!

    • Ah, yes. Thank you so much for commenting here. “I have less in common with people of other Protestant denominations than I do with my husband! ” I’ve often felt the same way with some Catholics. It’s crazy.

    • Krista, your story sounds identical to mine, although we are not married yet, but get married his summer. After we have 3 kids, it could be identical. :) I have been craving friendships with women in a similar situation. Amy and krista, is it possible to get contact info so we can encourage each other? I don’t want to lose this blog post in the midst of everything online. I think there is a huge need for support for folks in relationships like these. All in all, I’m so glad to have found this post as it seems there are women who can truly relate to me. Thank you!

  15. Cheryl G. says:

    Just stumbled across this – blog? (I’m not too computer savvy on what’s up these days!) Here’s the real deal: God is not concerned about what building you sit yourselves in. The true name for you all is not Catholic or Presbyterian, but CHRISTIAN. If you are following Christ and seeking to live the scriptures (our ONLY rule for faith and practice) then go where you want on Sunday. And any other day. God’s with you 24/7 any way we slice it.

  16. Simone R says:

    Man I wish my other felt that way. Things are so much easier when you view it from the “What unites us in our Christian faith is oh, so much more than what divides us in the details” prospective. Love that! My little guy (4) needs to know that since we are a dual-denomination household as well. I am going to share this with my big guy. Glad I found this blog! And to think all I was looking for was a waffle recipe!

    • I don’t want to make it sound overly chipper, but yes… when things get rough (because they do, and they will), we always go back to the important things!

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