Catholic Activity: Elementary Parent Pedagogy: Living and Loving
This instructions gives guidelines on how to show our children what living love really means. "Love is not a matter of petting and kissing; love is such devotion to another that you give yourself, your time, your strength, your health for that person." We can explain the child about motives, the parents' love, and opportunities to show our love for our family members.
Motherhood and fatherhood are not for cowards. Every mother has faced death; most fathers have faced the necessity of battling to support their wives and children.
Let your children know that it is love that makes mother and father brave and heroic and ready to meet death. Love is not a matter of petting and kissing; love is such devotion to another that you give yourself, your time, your strength, your health for that person. Quite small children love to do things for mother and father. Make it a point to encourage them to show their love in deeds. The frequent complaint of mothers, "I have done everything for my boy and now he does nothing for me," is sad; but it is the result of faulty training. Don't "do everything" for the child. Start when he is young and wants to help you, and train him to keep on.
Never let him slacken in his efforts. Now, with the school year beginning, write out for yourself a list of things in which your children can help, talk it over with them, and start to work on it.
Get the motive right. All children from six to fourteen can be told two things:
- You help mother and father because you love them.
- You help them because you love our Lord and want to copy Him. He loved and helped His Mother and St. Joseph.
When an occasion comes and the child rebels at helping, then you can say, "Of course it's hard and Mother would gladly do it for you. But if you have no chance to do hard things for dear Jesus' sake, you have no chance to suffer for Him and so show Him you love Him. Why not go to the store or cut the grass because you want to offer to our Dear Lord something that is hard for you?"
Suggested helps and things to do for love of mother and God are:
- Going to the store. A girl or boy of twelve or more can go to the store regularly and should be taught systematic marketing. Have him make a list with you. If inferior goods are delivered make him return them. Go and see the grocer occasionally yourself. Explain that he must wait on your child as scrupulously as he would on you yourself.
- Setting the table. From four years up children can set the table. Systematize the process of laying out knives, forks, etc. Then bread, butter, water, salt, napkins, — a list of things often forgotten should be memorized.
- Cleaning, dusting, bed-making, — even princes and princesses are trained to do these things.
- Cutting grass, weeding, arranging flowers are tasks which children can easily learn to perform.
- Brushing clothes, sewing on buttons, polishing shoes all give good training.
- Cleaning silver. Once a month the whole family may assemble in the kitchen, get out all the silver and have a polishing bee for one hour only — more time becomes drudgery.
What has all this to do with the Catholic religion? It trains children in good habits of generous helping and serving. A child so trained, easily learns habits of prayer, of self-sacrifice, of virtue. The idea of doing things for the love of the good Lord becomes part of the nature of the child.
Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938