According to the Catholic Church…
Families are domestic churches, the smallest Christian communities, whose daily practices are acts of Christian discipleship. “Parents should, by word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children.” (Lumen Gentium #11).
Families are also, according to Catholic Social Teaching, charged with the duty of solidarity, or uniting in compassion and service with the marginalized in society. This can often mean estranged family members. (Call to Family, Community, and Participation; Option for the Poor and Vulnerable)
If this is so, then we need to ensure we are getting parents involved in the catechesis of their children. How do we do this? According to Florence Caffrey Bourg in her article “Spirituality and the Family Life Cycle,” we should “grab them where they are!” Of course we are talking primarily about at home and in the classroom at church and during the whole life span. We are lifelong learners. Let’s take a look at opportunities within an average Catholic family’s life cycle for opportunities!
Baptism-the child is baptized in public at mass or at a private baptism with witnesses, but one of the first exposures to the liturgy and catechesis is at the baptism. We have a wonderful opportunity to catechize the parents on baptism and should take the opportunity as we do.
First Communion and Reconciliation–these sacraments present the opportunity to directly involve parents in the catechesis of their children. Most publishers offer sacrament preparation books that include family lesson plans. By using at home lessons you are placing trust in the parents who are the primary catechists of the child, according to the catechism. In addition, including parents in the retreat or day of reflection, and the celebration of the First Eucharist mass are additional ways of engaging and involving parents.
Confirmation-for confirmation preparation, consider sending home a question to discuss each week. Some dioceses post question lists that can be discussed at varying intervals. These or similar themes are great discussion starters at home yet have probably been discussed at home very little!
One DRE identifies seven main points or themes for each grade per year and calls them the “Magnificent Seven.” She sends them to the parents to be working on with their child over the year. She even provides a quiz at the end of the year for getting parents involved with their children. This reinforces the content in a positive family friendly way that encourages learning.
What are the most effective ways you have used to reinforce parent involvement at home or at church?