hosting an on-going conversation on how to raise a big, happy Catholic family. Good; parents need guidance. But I'm here to offer some caveats.
Don't assume that all Catholic parents can or will have BIG families or that they are contracepting if they only have 2 or 3 kids. You don't know what is going on: infertility, loss of fertility, health or financial issues, etc. You can have a great Catholic family and it can be small.
Don't assume there is a "magic formula" that will guarantee you practicing Catholic children. "Let's see, Gregorian chant + no tv + homeschooling = vocations and perfect kids!" Uh, no. Sorry. Just like the rest of us, God gave your kids free will. You can do everything "right" and still not have a practicing Catholic adult child. Conversely, you can do everything wrong and end up with a great kid. And, your "formula" might work for you, but not another family, and that does not mean they are doing it "wrong".
We live in a fallen world. Our kids, despite our best efforts and intentions, are often exposed to things we'd rather they not see, hear, or come in contact with. We have to offer loving and faithful guidance at every step of the way, but as adults, they are responsible for their own choices and decisions. Yes, we parents bear a heavy burden to raise our children well, but once they are grown...well, it's up to them, and we may not like that.
It's hard to see your kids make bad and sometimes sinful choices. We can look back and see where we made mistakes in our parenting, and some of those mistakes might be sinful on our part. However, most of us do the best we can.
Don't stand in judgement of another family. Even with our close friends, we rarely know the struggles another family faces on a daily basis or what determines their choices in how they raise their children. Let's be prayerfully supportive of each other, and keep in mind that we have just a short time to raise little ones, and that we must not do anything to alienate our adult children should they make choices we don't agree with. We may just be their lifeline back to the Faith.
Soldier on, Mom and Dad!
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