Advice, tips, resources, and help for parents and grandparents
In this special edition of Catholic Times, hear from diocesan priests, medical experts, and lay leaders on the subjects of raising your children, discipline, how to build a faith foundation for your child, how to get your adult child back to the faith, COVID-19 advice for back-to-school, why you shouldn’t put off baptizing your infant, resources for parents and grandparents, and much more.
The importance of you!
Young people are leaving the Catholic Church. How parents can stop it.
Fifty percent of Catholics who are 30 years old and younger have left the church. One out of six millennials (those who are 24-39 years old this year) in the U.S. is now a former Catholic. For every one person joining the Catholic Church today, more than six are leaving.
Those were some of the sobering statistics reported last year by Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.
“Seventy-nine percent who leave the church leave before the age of 23,” Bishop Barron said. “The median age of those who leave is 13.”
Where are these young people going? Bishop Barron says that 25 percent are becoming evangelical, 25 percent join another mainstream religion, but most become “nones.” A “none” is someone who is religiously unaffiliated.
They are leaving mainly because they no longer believe the Catholic Church’s teachings, especially the teachings on sexuality. Bishop Barron also points to relativism and the Catholic faith as being seen as illogical or unscientific as reasons. There are signs of hope, however. Few “nones” are anti-religious. They have more drifted away from religion.
“We’re not up against a fierce opponent at every turn,” Bishop Barron said. “Most are ambivalent about religion rather than hostile to it.”
In addition, online engagement about religion has seen a great increase of interest. More religious resources are available than ever before and are just a click away. Catholic Missionary groups like FOCUS are growing and Catholic Newman Centers on college campuses are seeing new life. For example, at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, they will have a FOCUS team for the first time this upcoming school year.
How parents can make all the difference
Bishop Barron approached Dr. Christian Smith, a professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame, and asked him, “What is one thing you would say to Catholic parents who want to prevent their children from becoming a ‘none’?” Smith replied simply, “Talk about religion with them.”
“Young people are craving those deep and rich conversations about faith and God,” said Carlos Tejeda, director for Marriage and Men’s Ministry for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. “Parents must make time for that. Read the Bible or books about the saints. Pray together as a family. Talk about deep theological issues like heaven and hell or how to live a virtuous life. Explain the church’s teachings as best you can. Those short conversations about our faith can make a big difference in the long run.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that parents are the “first heralds of faith” to their children (§1656). At each child’s baptism, parents accept the responsibility to train the child in the Catholic faith, to teach them to keep the Commandments, and to instruct them to love God and neighbor. This is a fitting promise since, as the Catechism reminds us, parents are “the principal and first educators of their children” (§1653).
“Parents, remain encouraged,” Tejeda said. “Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers, but take steps now. Take deliberate action and live the example of an authentic faith life. Think of it like you’re learning a new instrument or language. Practicing the faith and learning about the faith is similar. You won’t know everything, but you’ll get better every day. Talk to your children, ask them questions, and most importantly, go to Mass together. We all must persevere and keep going. God will not abandon us or our families. So, keep at it and keep praying with and for your family.”
Information for families seeking to raise their children right, create a healthy family dynamic, and set children up for a faith-filled life:Information for families seeking to raise their children right, create a healthy family dynamic, and set children up for a faith-filled life: