From the Trenches: Raising Orthodox Christians

Posted on Apr 9, 2014 | 2 comments

From the Trenches: Raising Orthodox Christians

It’s in those moments where the only strength we seem to be able to muster for family prayers that night is to tell our kids to get ready for bed, tuck them in, and then trace the sign of the cross on their forehead.  It’s in those moments where they hear us tell their coaches they won’t be able to make the game Sunday morning because we’ll be at church.  It’s in those moments where you bring them along to drop off food to someone who could use a meal, for whatever reason.

All of these moments teach our children.  They teach our children that even when mom (or dad) is completely and totally exhausted, we still found what little strength we had left to include God in bedtime. These moments teach our children that sports do not come before God and we are willing to not just say God is the priority in our lives but actually live it.  It’s in these moments where our children learn to give instead of just receive.

Our children learn as much from our moments of strength as they learn from our moments of weakness. Do we truly strive to place God as the priority in our lives or do we only do it when we have enough energy or spare time?  Our children are learning from everything we say and do.  Everything.

I read an excellent blog post today from Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick.  From my own personal experiences, I have to say I agree with him completely.  We, as the parents, are the primary example of what it means to be an Orthodox Christian.  For example, our children’s teacher can prepare a wonderful lesson on why it’s important for our children to brush their teeth.  The teacher can do a wonderful job explaining all the details to our children but if our children do not go home and actually brush their teeth every day, did the lesson present any real benefit for them?  We can even bring our child to the dentist to have any cavities treated, fix teeth that need attention, and know their teeth will get a good scrubbing.  What happens if we, as parents, never reinforce their teeth being brushed even after we went to great lengths to have them cleaned and fixed?  The teacher (Sunday School teacher) and dentist (priest) can only do so much without the support and help of the parents.  We are the ones who are down in the trenches each and every day with our kids fighting the good fight.  It’s in our homes – our little churches – where our children first pray, fast, celebrate traditions, celebrate feast days, and develop a relationship with God.

I am just a mom.  A mom who does not have any formal theological training from a school but strives to find moments in the quiet of the evening to pick up a book and learn more.  I am a mom who strives to pray during and between washing dishes and changing diapers.  I am a parent who learned from her parents how to pray before each meal and before bed as a family.  I am a wife who strives to bring her children to church every Sunday and as many Lenten services as possible along side of her husband.   

I may not always succeed in all my goals but I pray my children learn from my determination to never give up and always persevere when I meet bumps in the road.  I want them to know without a shadow of a doubt that God is the priority in our lives.

There are so many ways we live our faith in our daily lives.  A few days ago, I began to consciously think about this and taking one photo each day so I could reflect upon those moments.  You can follow along on this photo journey on Instagram by following me – sojourner76.

It’s in these moments that we begin to build our children’s relationship with God as we…

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…teach them to be stewards of God’s earth

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…bring them to church

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 (My youngest son’s 40 day Blessing)

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…read to them about the lives of the saints on a cool, autumn afternoon while sipping on hot apple cider and snuggled together on the couch

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…see them them serving on the altar for the first time

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…celebrate their name days

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…play hymns or Orthodox children’s audio books (Chrissi Hart on Ancient Faith Radio) for them at bedtime

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….pray for their newborn cousin in the hospital and let our kids pick out items to send to their aunt and uncle to help them out in their time of need

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…talk about the sacraments

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…include aspects of Orthodoxy in their school lessons (my boys did a lesson on India for our homeschool co-op and they also learned about an Orthodox orphanage in India)

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…read Orthodox children’s books with them

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….help them deal with life’s sorrows

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….and cultivate their relationship with their godparents (His shirt was from his godmother and says, “My Nouna Loves Me”)

 

2 Comments

  1. What a wonderful, heartfelt post. I am energized to continue and press on in out family life. Thank you for the inspiration.

  2. I really love this post! As I am preparing to be a parent myself, I love learning from you about bringing up Orthodox children!

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