By Katie Curtis
I have six kids, so when I hear comments about how hard it must be to have so many children, I often say that at least I’m not doing it alone. Yes, raising six kids is a lot of work, but when I consider the alternatives, it seems harder to raise even one child without my faith. Here are 10 reasons why being a Catholic mom is easier:
1) We’re not solely responsible for them. Not their happiness, well-being, or their future. God has a plan for them. My job is to be the face of his love for them, and let him do the rest. Which leads to my next point…
2) We worry less. Parenthood is fraught with worry. But because we trust that we are not the only ones looking out for them, we stress less. Many parents feel a pressure to give their kids everything - the right travel team, the right tutor, the right school, so that they can get into the right college, to get the right job, to get the right income level. We try to support our kids in developing their gifts but there seems to be less anxiety around all of it (or at least there should be). And when it comes to safety and accidents and illness we have so many saints and prayers to pour our worry into. Like the Irish saying goes, God looks out for drunks and babies.
3) We know we’re not perfect. When people talk about getting past perfect, I always think, ‘I don’t understand…I’m Catholic. We’re pretty clear on the imperfect part.’ Our view of humanity as fallen and imperfect means we know we’re not perfect. And we tell this to our kids. We make mistakes, say sorry and admit when we’re wrong. We don’t get hung up on being perfect. And we don’t expect our kids to be perfect. This helps us forgive easier and find mercy easier (most days).
4) We don’t keep up with the Joneses. If we are taking the 9th and 10th Commandments to heart, then there is zero social climbing on our radar. This seems to account for quite a lot of misery in some families that we just get to bypass. We aren’t measuring life through homes or cars or vacations, but by growth in holiness. This has huge implications on our happiness and stress levels.
5) Everything counts. With a morning offering, literally every prayer, work, joy, and sufferings can be meaningful. Having conversations about this with our kids weaves richness and meaning into every day events and moments, and helps them handle adversity. And gives us something to say when they’re complaining and we tell them they can offer it up (my favorite).
6) Teaching Virtue Makes Good People. Many parents say, “I just want my child to be a good person”. By educating our children in virtues and the sacramental life, we are weeding out potentially big character flaws such as selfishness, entitlement, and egoism, and instead planting ideas such as sainthood, holiness, gifts of the spirit, and compassion for others. This character development translates to kids who play nice in the sandbox (most of the time). We know they’re not perfect (see #3), but they have a better chance of becoming that elusive ‘good person’ then kids without faith do.
7) Faith Becomes a Part of their Identity. Having faith become a part of your child’s core identity means they have so much richness to lean on in their inner life. They can learn about examples of the saints and learn how to pray and develop that inner well of resiliency. And having resilient kids makes everything easier.
8) We have our Heavenly Mom to lean on. The example of Mary makes motherhood so much richer and more beautiful and peaceful. Whether or not our own mothers can support us in motherhood, Mary’s support is endless and loving. She always has a listening ear, and we can call on her any time with the Rosary or the Memorare. Motherhood without Mary to lean on would be rough.
9) We don’t have to dread the teenage years. So many Catholic moms of older kids gush, ‘it just keeps getting better!’. And yet, so many other parents complain about the teenage years. Why are there such different experiences of the same age group? If things like casual sex, drug use, and a pleasure-first principle are assumed to be givens, and the expectation is they will of course do these things, no wonder they complain about these ages! They’re stressed about the harm that can befall them. I would be too. But if your child is on a path to develop who God made them to be, then that is a joy to watch, bumps in the road and all.
10) Last but not least, we trust our job has a pretty good retirement package. We are trying to win Heaven through fulfilling our vocation. And it happens to include cute babies and giggly kids. On our hardest days, we know that there is merit to our trials, and that this merit is storing up our treasures in Heaven. (Even if we did yell too much.)