How do parents and caregivers raise a UU child? By talking to their children about being a Unitarian Universalist and modeling UU values. The Religious Education program at UUCWC teaches children UU values and traditions, but children learn and internalize their concepts of faith, morality, responsibility, and justice from their parents.
I grew up Catholic in an interfaith marriage. I attended religious education school once a week but this did not make me a Catholic. Religion, faith and spirituality were never a topic or practice in my childhood home. My parents must have been uncomfortable with the whole subject of religion. As a result, I never felt or identified as a “real” Catholic.
I’d like to help our UUCWC families be comfortable about integrating Unitarian Universalism in to their home life. One idea for parents that I’d like to focus on this month comes from the Think Orange series. The book pinpoints four times during an average parent’s day that are great faith-building opportunities for children.
In the morning, a parent’s role is “Coach” – a time to build a child up with encouraging words that give a sense of value and instill purpose for the day. Parents can help their children get psyched up for what’s ahead and send them off in the world with the conviction that today will be a good one.
At drive time, a parent’s role is “Friend” – chatting about the day to help children interpret life. There is something about not having direct eye contact with children that helps them to open up more in the car.
At mealtime, a parent’s role is “Teacher” – having discussions about the family’s core values. It’s a time to have discussion about something that came up in a family member’s day, to highlight teachable moments, and to appreciate successes. Families can highlight when UU values came in to play during the day.
And at bedtime, a parent’s role is “Counselor”– a time to listen to the heart of a child. Don’t try to fix things, help the child process their worries and go to sleep easily.
Even as an experienced Religious Educator and parent, these suggestions had a lot to remind me. They would have been a helpful guide for me when I was dealing with my own family a few years ago as I navigated through the hubbub of sports and choir schedules, homework, housework, and planning a meal that 5 people would all enjoy. I know many parents face the same thing today.
Today, I encourage our families to think about the four times you have a lot of contact and influence with your children. Which one is really stressful right now? Which of these roles does your family need a little more of in the coming months? Pick one to try, and give it a committed shot! Remember that a little bit of time and attention each day to your family’s faith builds up to something amazing by the end of the year.