Little children are exuberant, joyful, full of wonder, curiosity and a sense of awe and trust in big people. They love unconditionally, without judgement, when they are loved. These are qualities God values.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 18:3
Let The Children Come To Me
However, we can act just like the apostles and try to dismiss children because kids are loud, messy, and they can’t sit still, especially at Mass. Parents must guide children gently as we try to encourage them to be quiet in Church so Mass does not become a miserable experience for all. Jesus said to the disciples and to modern day parents,
“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”- Matthew 19:14
The Almighty loves children just as they are, even though parents often wish their kids acted more like mini-adults.
Family Life: God’s Joyful Chaos
As I mothered, I tried to let kids be kids at home. Of course, they were brought up to be polite and well behaved in public and at school but at home, I let them enjoy their childhood. One afternoon an acquaintance stopped by for a cup of tea with two preschool children in tow. At first, she was very nervous and jumping up at every disturbance she heard as the kids played. Trying to soothe her nerves I explained,
“Relax and let them have fun; anything that could be broken probably is and anything that is not, probably should be.”
Her mouth dropped open but then she laughed and stopped straining her ears for the smallest sound of trouble because she realized that expensive knickknacks had no place in my child-centered home. I might seem foolish to some but I am proud to admit that our house was a very, very fine house with a dog at the door, a cat or two curled up on the best chairs, goldfish swimming circles on my too-small counter, sometimes a hamster, guinea pig or rabbit in a cage on the kitchen floor, paintings and crafts displayed anywhere and everywhere and of course way too many plants.
A Lived-in Living Room
Our living room was a lived-in room with all sorts of activity centres and corners with block or lego structures left intact to be admired. Unfinished puzzles were covered with a tablecloth for meals. After dinner, the older kids and their dad would sip tea or water and talk as they worked on the puzzle.
Most importantly, in the midst of our joyful chaos, the littlest ones often spoke spontaneously about God, surprising and shocking my husband and me.
It is all about mutual respect. Not only demanding respect but respecting little people’s need to explore, create and learn. Catholic life is lived in a spirit of humility, gratitude, and joy. I know when, as a parent, I allowed His Spirit to permeate my life and home, I consequently modeled mutual respect, kindness, and joy towards my spouse and my kids; they modeled mutual respect to me as well. Respecting children means parents allow kids to be kids.
Copyright 2016 Melanie Jean Juneau