January 22, 2019 will mark the 46th anniversary of the landmark abortion decision of Roe v. Wade–46 years of unmitigated infanticide in our country. It is an absolute scandal and a tragedy that must be ended. As parents of the next generation, we have a sacred duty to raise our children to respect life at all stages.
In our family, life issues are discussed frequently and at length. My husband and I have felt it to be vitally important for our children to understand and embrace the sacredness of life; from conception to natural death. We have employed many of the following 15 strategies in guiding our family toward greater respect for life.
- Make a big deal out of birthdays. This does not mean spending large amounts of money on gifts. This means making sure your children feel that their presence in your family is precious. In our family, we allow the birthday child to choose the meals for the day and the birthday cake. We make them king or queen for the day. If their birthday falls on a school day, I allow them to have it off (much easier to do if they are homeschooled). Making birthdays special may seem like a no-brainer, but if a child does not feel that they are themselves are precious, I firmly believe they cannot see how every other person is also precious.
- Speak of motherhood and mothers with deep-seated respect. Motherhood is a remarkable and very unique vocation. Our culture actively seeks to devalue motherhood. Our children need to know that God himself has given motherhood profound dignity. One just need to look at the singular grace and honor He gave to His own mother.
- Welcome each new life into your own family with great joy. I know from experience, there are times a new child seems overwhelming and you may not feel so joyful, especially at first. Do not let your children see that. Eventually our apprehensive feelings subside. So even if you aren’t feeling it, model joy for your family.
- Be open to life. We are called to life and to embrace each new one that is gifted to us. As Catholics, we are prohibited from using contraception. Often a hard teaching, but adhering to it is integral to the promotion of the pro-life cause. It is not difficult to see that contraception and abortion go hand in hand.
- Take joy in new babies where ever you go. Point out babies when out in public and talk about how sweet and precious they are. Smile at and encourage new moms.
- Make a book for your children showing the different stages of development during pregnancy. When I did this for our children I printed the photographs from this WebMD slide show and put them in page protectors in a binder. I then wrote out appropriate, significant milestones in an unborn baby’s development for each month. My kids loved this book and still look through it.
- Pray your family rosary offering it particularly for greater respect for life at all stages.
- Do not be afraid to discuss difficult life issues with your children at appropriate ages. Reinforce the truth of the dignity of every human life; that we are given that dignity by God and it is not dependent upon what we can and cannot do. The world takes a utilitarian view of human life which is completely counter to the Christian understanding.
- In word and action acknowledge the beauty and dignity of those who have special needs and/or special care. Every life is a gift from God.
- Speak of aging and of the elderly in a positive and respectful manner; once again emphasizing the dignity of every life at every stage.
- Visit and/or volunteer in a nursing home. Bring your children if you are able.
- Volunteer in a pro-life pregnancy clinic.
- Participate in a 40 Days for Life Campaign.
- Attend the March for Life if you are able. During our years in the Washington DC area we were able to attend the March on multiple occasions. Our children participated even further as teens; attending the Youth Rally as well as the March with our parish youth group. The experience is remarkable and invigorating and we always came away filled with hope for the future of the pro-life movement. Many states hold their own rallies in front of their state capitol or state supreme court buildings. A little research on the web should provide details needed for your family to participate.
- Pray in front of an abortion clinic. This one is tough. Among the things that might discourage one from praying with their children in front of an active abortion mill are graphic posters of what abortion really entails and insults and profanity often flung at those gathered in prayer by those who support and embrace abortion. On the occasions we have taken children to either the March for Life or a pro-life rally in front of an abortion clinic we offer a prayer of protection over our children and ask their guardian angels to guard their eyes and ears from things they are not at an age to handle.
I firmly believe one day the laws protecting abortion will finally be overturned. I pray it is our children who will take up the banner and accomplish this. Until then, we must fight the fight and teach our children that it is a battle worth fighting and winning.
I am sure this list is not exhaustive. How do you foster respect for life in your family? What strategies would you add?