Children require a sense of protection, acceptance, and the reassurance that the child is loved by his parents or legal guardian. The virtue of love serves as the par excellence of virtues between parent and child because of God’s love for us, and second, it affirms the parents love for their own child as a gift from God
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of parents serving as their child’s primary spiritual director. A central aspect of this charism is the responsibility of the parent as both an evangelist and catechist in their child’s religious development. However, the development of any child’s religious identity is predicated on the parent’s willingness to live as a child of God themselves. This means that any parent I argue should exhibit an authentic and genuine trust in Jesus Christ that reflects the development of trust between parent and child.
The development of trust
The relationship between parent and child begins with establishing an environment of trust the child can comprehend. Physical presence is the first step in developing a relationship of trust between parent and child because the child needs to physically experience a parents’ presence in their daily life. A question to discern in this parents is to ask yourself; Am I available as much as possible to address their child’s physical needs of food, clothing, shelter, playful activities, and visible constant activity of prayer throughout the home? A child first learns by what he can physically experience, this is called learning through the body.
The second step in the development of trust is the spiritual presence. This step coincides with the first where the physical presence merges with the spiritual and we now have an active and visible expression of the faith the child can begin to mimic, gradually comprehend, and ultimately apply in his own life.
The third step in the development of trust is the exercise of the mind, the development and strengthening of the intellect and will in the child where he begins to make a conscious decision to accept Jesus Christ in his life and embrace a desire to live life through a Catholic world view as entrusted by his parents.
Parents as spiritual directors must always have a specific end in mind when they actively choose to lead their children towards a relationship with Jesus Christ, in short, heaven is the aim. This is what is called the mystagogical where the child is provided with an ongoing opportunity to mature in his relationship with Jesus Christ as a child of God, and seek the trustful wisdom of his parents to do so.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has something to say about the importance of trust any parent should read when spiritually directing your child:
When Jesus openly entrusts to his disciples the mystery of prayer to the Father, he reveals to them what their prayer and ours must be, once he has returned to the Father in his glorified humanity. What is new is to “ask in his name.” Faith in the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father, because Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life. Faith bears its fruit in love: it means keeping the word and the commandments of Jesus, it means abiding with him in the Father who, in him, so loves us that he abides with us. In this new covenant the certitude that our petitions will be heard is founded on the prayer of Jesus.
While Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but he instructed them in order to convert them and save them.
Pope St. Pius X
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