Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver offered these 10 tips for parents to pass on the faith:
1. Be present to children: A real presence, not a virtual one that involves checking up by phone or texting. Eat meals together.
2. Be joyful witnesses to the Gospel: When parents evangelize, children are much more likely to embrace the faith. “Words without testimony are useless,” he said. “Young people recognize authenticity.”
3. Know your stuff: Parents must take pains to ensure that the faith they pass on to their child is not just a personal opinion. Documents such as the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” are helpful guides.
4. Stick to the core message: It is revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. “Jesus Christ loves you, gave his life to save you, and is now with you every day,” he said.
5. Pray with your children: Teach them how. It might be the most effective way of passing on the faith. Praying as a family leaves an impression on children. It is important for them to see the joys, hopes and disappointments of their parents. Keep it simple and make it a regular practice. “There are many ways to do it. Just do it,” Archbishop Miller said.
6. Go to Sunday Mass together: All Sunday activities should be grouped around it. Prepare for the Mass and make it a personal encounter with God.
7. Read the Bible as a family: Evangelization demands a familiarity with God’s word. Begin with a Gospel, a little at a time. “It’s like good bread that nourishes one’s heart,” he said.
8. Sacramentalize your home: The use of pictures, music and other symbols help children recognize that beauty is rooted in God. They are fascinated by rosaries, crucifixes and holy water. “A Catholic culture sustains our ability to pass on the faith,” he said.
9. Share experiences of faith among yourselves: Parents should tell their kids about their own faith journey and what God is doing in their lives. They should have their children share their experiences with them. It involves the art of listening.
10. Form the moral conscience of your children in truth and freedom: A very important component. Parents walk a tightrope in giving their children personal freedom and forming them in the truth. Young people are attracted to the truth, and parents cannot be afraid to identify what is good and what is evil. To have a well-formed conscience, children must be educated to know the truth.