GIVE YOUR KIDS THE KEYS: NAVIGATING YOUR CHILD TO A PERSONAL AND SUSTAINABLE FAITH
By Adam Stadtmiller
With Karie Stadtmiller
ISBN-10: 0830757201 (Kindle)
Reviewed By Carolyn Moebest
I had the pleasure of meeting Adam and Karie Stadtmiller and their kids while I was a Barista in a Coffee House filling the gap needed to pay for my four kid’s tuition at Catholic School. Adam is a very tall man who looks like he should be a boxer not a pastor. I know that beneath his rugged exterior is a gentle man who would ask me to “add a little water” to his “too strong” coffee. We became fast friends, and I often teased him by offering him “old lady coffee” …
Adam and Karie were both hard workers. I did not know what they were doing, but they were working and drinking coffee like there was no tomorrow. Drinking coffee and typing went on for months and months. Somehow, I learned that they were writing a book on “discipling children” which I thought was delightful. I have just finished reading the final production, and have enjoyed it very much. Here I will share my impressions of the book and some of my own parenting observations.
Stop for Junk Food, it is Okay Sometimes…
As a mother of eight children, I know how important it is to make your children “own” their faith. Each of my adult children and I often recount the moment that they “got it”. This is for certain a memorable moment – better than learning to walk, ride a bike, or make your own breakfast- although the latter would tag close behind. In “Give your Kids the Keys”; Adam recounts a familiar moment to me when he became what I call a “Donut” Christian. He, as did one of my sons, begin as a “Donut Christian”. Most of you know what that means, simply: kids who go to Church for the Donuts. It’s an augmentation of the term “Rice Bowl Christian”. I learned about the Donut Cult from my own son, who led me to believe he enjoyed the early Mass, and realizing finally that even donuts can lead a child to a close relationship with Jesus. .
A “Road Map” the Bible
I was reminded when reading Adam’s book of my oldest son’s journey. He was not a great student, but when I purchased a picture bible for him (which is one of Adam’s suggestions- (an age appropriate bible). I remember having to yell, “Put that Bible down!” After all, table-setting and obedience to the fourth commandment have to fit in somewhere. At the time we were sure he had a vocation to the Priesthood. He can to this day answer even difficult theological questions and quote scripture and verse of just about any bible story. However, I had to sigh with embarrassment when one of the priests at our parish asked him why he wanted to be a priest and he answered, “Because you get a cool place to live.”
When You Run into Trouble, You Don’t Always Have to Hit the Brakes
I have also had what I call “baby dissenters”, those who fight you from the moment they wake up until the Homily when you have to take them outside. They are those who stand up in the middle of the Canon while their mother and father are praying devoutly and shout…”I HATE CHUUUURRRRCCCHH!”A new Catholic Mom, with a four year old, may feel panic inside when something like this happens in front of the entire Parish. One of my sons was that kid that the parents just wouldn’t let their kid play with. That could have been why. It also could have been the time he heckled Father Stan Fortuna when he was giving a talk at a Youth 2000 retreat. Father Stan minced no words, and my son learned an important lesson. Thanks to that incident all is well; he is a 22 year old devout Catholic and United States Marine.
Fulton Sheen once said that Saint Francis of Assisi had as much potential to do evil as good. Saint Francis was a larger than life character, which Sheen says could have made him a terrible sinner! Even though he rebelled for the first part of his life, he had been taught the faith at some point and it stuck. It returned at one of the darkest moments in Church History and Saint Francis (The kid you probably would not want your kid hanging out with) and his brothers reformed the Catholic Church.
Open the Windows
Over the Christmas Season, I watched the documentary the “Bethlehem Star”. One of the amazing revelations in the documentary is that the people of ancient times were very close to the Natural World. Pope John Paul was a great lover of Nature and was known for his campouts with his Parish. Adam insists that your children be granted plenty of time in the outdoors so that they can witness and perceive Gods Majesty and digest it for themselves. His insights here are quite valuable.
Park it…and Go Inside With Them
The Stadtmillers main point is that we often become over-protective and micro managers of our children’s faith life. We can also be “droppers offers” and never enter in to our faith or even the Church! Idling our own engines is sure to affect our kids, especially as they grow older. Are we a model for our child to follow? As too concerned parents we may not allow our children to “drive their own faith”. I am in strong agreement with the Stadtmillers that these errors can eventually cause a teenage child to lose interest in religion entirely.
For faith to last, a parent must stop braking and pressing the “gas pedal instead.”
Of course we, as Catholics, have the daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, Stations of the Cross, and the Rosary that already are a part of our daily family life. We do not have to rebuild the wheel. Catholic Moms, all we need to do is prompt our children, entrusting them to Our Lord- He will have their engines running rich. The Stadtmillers book will give you the inspiration you need – do not fear! – For since we have the keys, (Mt 16:18) Give them to the kids!
Carolyn Moebest is a free-lance writer and mother of six boys and two girls. A Master Catechist, you can read her blog at www.rcinexile.blogspot.com