Faith in the Family

Faith in the Family

I’m struggling with parenting. Why? I think it is because I now find myself in the strange position of parenting adults. Our youngest turned 18 recently so we now have a family of adults and last weekend we had them all home. Not only that, but our three daughters had their boyfriends home with them too. So there was quite the crowd in our house for a weekend of birthday celebrations.

So, what is the struggle then? I think it is to do with knowing when to step up and when to step back. In many ways our four are capable, independent adults and then there are the moments when they just aren’t!

At one point over the weekend my husband used the phrase “oversized toddlers” to describe them – whatever antics were going on! Although they got involved and gave a hand with cooking and washing up it was definitely mammy’s job to produce meals and organise the day.

Getting all nine of us out the door to go anywhere reminded me of days gone by! I occasionally wondered how they manage to function out in the big wide world.


The lads all came to Mass with us on Sunday, more out of a desire to be polite I think rather than because it is their usual habit. And it all got me thinking about who our children will marry and what challenges they may face if they want to bring their own children up as people of Faith.

Now a wee word to my aunties who read this column – do not go running out to buy the posh frocks and the fascinators just yet. It is way too early for any of that!

But I find myself wondering – even worrying – about grandchildren we don’t yet have. I think it is becoming more challenging in many ways to raise a family.

One challenge is to nurture the spirituality of children and empower them to value their relationship with God as something which gives context, direction and meaning to life.

To do that a family needs to live consistently in a way that shows that Faith matters, that it is a part of everyday life and not just for the big occasions. To live like this becomes even more difficult if one parent is resistant to or ambivalent about Faith. As we know children have so many questions about everything. When they begin to question why we believe or pray or go to Mass it is much harder to give an answer if the reality is that either mammy or daddy don’t consider any of that to be important.

And so, I look at our own adult children and wonder what the future holds for them. Will they be with someone who will love them, share their Faith and together commit to raising children as people of Faith?

Or will they be with someone who loves them and commits to them but stands apart from the business of nurturing Faith and spirituality in the children? What impact will that have on family life? And are these questions as important to my children as they are to me?

We had joked about having questionnaires about Faith, family and football for the three boyfriends to complete at the weekend. We didn’t do it – but it could have provoked some very interesting conversations! So, I have had to settle for conversations with my children about all this, hoping that at whatever stage they do decide that they have met the person they want to marry they will have the courage and conviction to talk about things like Faith and family.

In the meantime, I am learning what it means to parent adults, to pick up on the signals about when they need to be independent grown-ups and when they just need their mammy.