“Why do you believe in God?” the teacher inquired.
The child thought a moment and then answered, “I don’t know why. I think it runs in the family.”
We realize that what happens in our sessions gets, talked about at home (hopefully), but is there more to it than that? Are there ways we can be intentional in ministering with/to the parents and the family? Let’s explore some, looking at two categories: connection and participation. (Choose the ones that will work for you.)
Connection with parents and families
- Before the year begins, call your parents, introducing yourself, sharing your plans for being a co-partner with them during this year of continuing growth in faith. (Call each child/youth in your group, too, before the year begins.)
- Be available, as much as possible, before and after each catechetical session, as the parents are bringing and picking up the children/youth, to talk with them, see how they’re doing. Learn their names right away, their concerns and interests.
- When a child mentions to you that there is an illness/death in the family or a new baby/special occasion, etc., send a card, make a phone call to the parents to see how things are or offer congratulations.
- Each week write a note, email, or make a phone call to a different one of your child’s parents, simply to let them know what a joy it is to have their child in your group, or specifically compliment the child/youth on something they have recently done. Use this time, too, to affirm the parents for the great job they’re doing. (Keep a list/chart so that each child gets a turn; when you have gone through your group, start over.)
- Use the parents’ pages which come with your catechetical text (or make your own) to keep your parents up-to-date on the topics experienced in your sessions.
- Ask the parents for their thoughts on how things are going for their children/youth, for their family. What else do they need? What else would help them?
Invite On-going Participation
- Plan prayer services at the end of your sessions, inviting parents to join their children.
- Plan your sessions as often as you can in which help is needed, e.g. other adult-aides in the learning area with you. Invite your parents to be partners with you.
- Involve your families in the life of the church. Let them know of seasonal prayer experiences, parish service opportunities, family social events. Encourage their participation.
- Request the parents’ email addresses (explaining why you want them). Once a week, send them a short email with one idea: a family prayer, a question to talk about, a Scripture passage to discuss, something to do as a family, a service activity, etc.
- Prepare for a future session by having the children/youth “interview” their parents, grandparents, etc., such as: “What is your definition of church?” “When do you pray?” “When do you find it hard to be a Christian?”
- Design your session activities to carry over at home: writing a prayer for before dinner; my family’s plan for caring for God’s creation, etc.
- Provide questions for families to analyze their favorite TV programs (or the commercials) according to Gospel values, Jesus’ lifestyle, or a specific theme you are studying.
- Email or send home an explanation of a family ritual for each liturgical season. Explain it to the children/youth first, to create enthusiasm.
- Plan a service opportunity for your families. Each family can drive themselves, meeting at the location (you won’t need, then, to provide permission slips and chaperones). Provide reflection time afterward: What did I learn? What happened to me? How am I different because of what I experienced? What will I do now because of what I experienced?