Easter: Stewardship and Prayer
Seven ways to raise children who care
There are things parents can do to make sure they raise Easter people
By Tom Rinkoski
Celebrating Easter is delightful. However, it is another thing
to live Easter after the celebration is done. The birth of a baby
also is a celebration. Raising a child, however, is an adventure.
Here are seven ways to raise Easter people -- children who
1. To raise children who care, be a parent who cares. Children
learn from what you do much more than what you say. Don't talk
about virtue and caring, be virtuous and caring. Your efforts at
caring do not have to be titanic. The small stuff counts! Welcome
your children home when they walk in the door after school. Notice
them every day. Listen with your whole heart and soul to their
stories. The primary skill of a parent who cares is to listen well.
Never underestimate the power of having someone listen to you with
the whole body and mind and heart.
2. To raise children who care, introduce them to other adults
who care. Research from the Search Institute (Minneapolis) has
shown that in order to grow up to be healthy and successful, teens
must have three positive adult relationships other than their
parents. Cultivate these connections. Affirm them when your
children find them. Help them to find others who can both be
adopted aunts and uncles, big brothers and sisters and who are also
Easter people. While we are at it, for which teens are you
an Easter person, a shining light, a friend?
3. To raise children who care, nurture a spirit of generosity in
your family. If you give allowances, arrange the money so that
giving to charity is an expectation. Re-examine your Christmas
giving. Become a creative giver, make giving a fun and exciting
participative sport. Volunteer your time and talent generously,
setting an example for your children. Better yet, volunteer as a
family. Not only will you nurture generosity, you also will gain
quality family time!
4. To raise children who care, grow a spirit of civic
participation. There are people right now fighting for our right to
vote, and yet we are not employing that right. Caring that only
exists within your house, is not really Easter caring. Pick a cause
(for example, the ecology) that inspires you and work toward it
with spirit and soul. Take your children to parks and enjoy your
common heritage. Accepting responsibility for the common good is at
the bedrock of Catholic social teaching.
5. To raise children who care, learn to honor Sabbath time in
your family. We desperately need citizens of heaven and earth who
know how to take time out to reflect and think about things. If you
are married, establish a date night. The best gift your can give
your children is a healthy, successful marriage. Make your family
meals a Sabbath time. Take vacations often and without guilt.
Rituals provide sacred space that becomes Sabbath time. Invent new
rituals for yourselves.
6. To raise children who care, learn effective problem solving
skills together and practice them daily. Avoid violence, always.
Teach your children to solve problems on their own with critical
thinking, brainstorming alternatives, and practicing forgiveness.
Good problem solving pays attention to feelings. These days
peacemaking is a skill that we all need to learn. Life provides us
with more than enough opportunity to practice getting better at
problem solving. Don't miss these grace-filled moments!
7. To raise children who care, help them stretch their horizons.
It is in reaching out beyond the comfortable that we grow
spiritually. Our children are growing into a world that is unlike
ours, teach them to value and embrace diversity. Learning another
language is a way to begin this process. Celebrate Kwanzaa, Martin
Luther King Day, attend Native American celebrations, join a Hmong
New Year Party. Our world is a marvelous gift. Think and act
globally, don't just watch the planet spin by on your TV.
Jesus did not die and rise so we could celebrate Easter. He died
and rose so that we could be Easter. Practice Resurrection. Be a
people known for caring!
(Rinkoski is the Green Bay Diocese's Family Life director and
a professional story-teller.)