Unfortunately, babies don’t come with users’ manuals, and the job of parenting doesn’t get performance reviews. There is no single right way to be a parent; however, there are some ingredients that we all need to incorporate. Here are four things that every Catholic parent should strive to make sure their children know before leaving home. How you do these things, and how you incorporate them into your parenting, is where your own personality and your children’s personalities come in.

1. You are loved.
It has been proven over and over that young adults who know beyond any doubt that their parents love them are less likely to engage in risky behavior, including premarital sex, drugs and alcohol. This doesn’t mean you will condone all their choices or bail them out of every difficult situation, but it does mean that in a changing world, your love will be a steadfast constant they can rely on.

2. Know your faith.
The “real world” is going to challenge our children’s Catholic beliefs. Catholics with a weak knowledge of the teachings of the Church often fall victim to evangelization by other faiths or, worse, fall away from faith completely. Even if your children have had the best Catholic education, don’t assume they fully understand what they’ve been taught. Take time to discuss the faith. Listen to your children and ask pointed questions.

3. The Church is your home.
Make sure your children know that they may be leaving your family home, but they never have to leave their church home. When bouts of homesickness threaten (as they probably will), a nearby Catholic Church and the Mass can be a touchstone of safety in what can feel like an impersonal world.

4. Pray daily.
As important as friends are, friendship with God is even more important. Our children need to understand that friendship with God requires time and energy. While it is true that God is always there waiting for us, and that God does, in fact, take the initiative to contact us, we need to spend time every day in prayer in order to know and understand God’s will for our lives.

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