Building respect life culture in the family

January has always been an important month in my life. It is not only the beginning of a new year, but also the month where respect life issues seem to be at the forefront of most of my work and activities. 

I remember back to when I was in college and I had first heard of the March for Life. Sitting on my lofted bed in my dorm room, my roommate was trying to convince me to go on the annual pilgrimage to Washington DC. I have to admit, I was not raised with any knowledge of what this event was. My parents certainly loved life, it’s just that we never had conversations on Roe v. Wade, or other such life issues when I was growing up. 

I can still clearly hear my roommate telling me all about the march and how important it was to stand up for life issues. I was in awe listening to her explain how her parents helped run a pregnancy center and took in pregnant teen moms, and helped others in need. She went on to speak firmly of her convictions. No question I could ask or throw at her shook her in the least. She was knowledgeable, kind and firm in her beliefs. I finally asked her, “Where did you learn all this?” She replied, “My parents raised us in a pro-life household.”

Since that moment, I have often thought of what it might mean to raise a family in a pro-life household. Certainly, there are several things that a family can do to positively incorporate life issues into the everyday. Starting with the premise that we love and respect all life, from conception to natural death, my husband and I set out to define what this meant specifically in our family. 

We began with ourselves. Knowing that all life is sacred, even from the moment of conception, we began with learning natural family planning. By knowing how God creates life through fertility and health, we have been able to make many decisions to be open to God’s will for children in our life. The Diocese of Green Bay offers many classes for couples to learn natural family planning and there are even scholarships available so it can be accessible to all. By taking some time to understand how life comes to be and how a couple can cooperate with God and this process, a tremendous respect forms for the miracle of life at conception.

Another way a family can set out to form a pro-life household is to love and walk with those who are nearing the end of their lives. Something this past year of the pandemic has taught us is how time is so precious and sometimes too short. After losing several friends and loved ones this past year, it has always been important to have our children understand that there can be beauty and hope in the dying process. 

Although death can be frightening to a young person, we found this past year that the more we educated our children as to what was happening, the less scary it seemed to be. We looked for ways to brighten the final days of those we loved and found opportunities to share a memory and a laugh together. By showing those at the end of their life that every moment they are here on earth is precious to you, they can move into the next life with the dignity and respect that we all deserve.

Being pro-life is not defined as just respecting the beginning and the end, it’s also in finding ways to love all the years in between. Having a pro-life household also comes in the thousands of moments that occur in the everyday: praying for a mom who is pregnant, donating clothes or toys to the needy, and learning how to treat all of those around you with dignity and respect, at school, at work, etc. It can also be through working with organizations to help those who are marginalized, or even being excited when you see a baby at church. There are so many selfless acts a family can do to tell those around them that a life has meaning and importance in this world.

Finally, I highly encourage all families to have pro-life conversations in their homes. Talk to your children about life issues, research together what the church says on different pro-life topics, and help your children understand the context and reasoning behind these topics. Talk to your parish priest or deacon or become involved in a pro-life group at your parish. You can also join us at the upcoming Disciples for Life Conference on Saturday, Jan. 23, which is being held virtually or with limited in-person attendance. 

Join us for the whole afternoon or any part of the day. You can register here at gbdioc.org/disciplesforlife. Take time this year to create a pro-life household. No matter the age of your children, there are always creative ways to show dignity and respect for all aspects of life around you. “Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Tremblay is marriage and life ministries director for the Diocese of Green Bay.