Catechism classes start at home

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What the monkey sees, the monkey does. It is an idiom which simply means that children will learn their behavior by copying what they see happening around them.

Do people no longer know this saying? It will be a real shame if people don’t do it anymore because it is so obvious in a classroom full of children.

I have volunteered as a catechist in my parish, St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica in Toronto, for many years. Each year I clearly see that the gap between what we teach in the classroom and what is practiced at home is widening more and more.

Since most of the programs I volunteer for are reconciliation and fellowship classes, each topic is presented to the children in “bite-size” ways. So, it becomes more and more frustrating when the simple and basic tasks required of every practicing Catholic cannot be accomplished, such as going to church on Sundays.

This topic becomes a little trickier when we start talking about the Ten Commandments and the idea of ​​sin, accidents and mistakes is introduced. As an example, we take the choice of going to church on Sunday and it becomes unnecessarily difficult to explain to children that it is not their fault that they cannot go to church on Sunday. Sunday.

How can we tell them that the burden of sin is not theirs but that of their parents?

They are children; the autonomy of their actions is not yet entirely theirs. They still develop the ability to someday make the appropriate judgments. And that’s why we have parents; they are there to help us make those decisions until we are able to make them on our own.

In 2011, the Urban Child Institute published an article aptly titled “Children Reflect Parenting Behavior,” which hits the mark: “Our children are mirrors. Images reflecting what is happening around them. In addition to sharing genetic similarities with parents, they reflect the gestures, languages, and interests of the adults in their lives.

Laura Schulz, professor of cognitive science at MIT, was co-author of a study, published in 2019 by the Society for Research in Child Development, entitled “The actions, successes, failures and words of adults affect persistence. young children ”. She and her colleagues wrote: “Our study suggests that children are rational learners – they care first and foremost about whether adults are successful in achieving their goals. But when adults are successful, kids also watch how hard adults try and what adults say about the value of the effort.

That’s why it pains me to see children worrying about issues like this. They know in the simplest way what is good and what is not, and then they ask why their parents don’t take them to church the way they are supposed to.

Fast forward a few years later these children will be the same children who will take confirmation classes with us and half of them will take the classes to make their parents happy and the other half will partially understand that it is another rite. Catholic passage. Each year there will only be a handful of students who will understand what it means to be confirmed and initiated as a Catholic adult.

Karen Stephens wrote in 2007 for Parental exchange: “Children respect adults who walk in their speech. Children are sensitive and astute with a strange ability to distinguish between adults who only speak a good game and those who play the game by the rules they preach…. Choose to be a parent who shows credible family characteristics that are worth building on.

How are we supposed to teach them and impose on them what it means to be a good Catholic – one who follows even the simplest teachings of Christ – if they don’t see them at home?

(Ducepec, 22, recently graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science degree.)


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