A child learns mostly by doing. They also learn by watching what the parents do. Be careful your children are paying attention to you. When you attend church as a family you are sending a very concrete and strong message to your child about who they are and who their family is. They know that they go to church, and that Mom and Dad do too. Growing up it was firmly ingrained in me that we attended church together. If we were home, even when we were in college we all attended together, no teenager going to 5pm mass to be with their friends while the family went Sunday morning.
What does a child learn by going to church with his family?
Studies show that children who go to church learn many valuable life skills outside that translate outside of church. Children who attend church/mass with their families
- increase their average life expectancy by 8 years
- significantly reduce their use and risk from Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs
- dramatically lower their risk of suicide
- rebound from depression 70% faster
- dramatically reduce their risk for committing a crime
- improve their attitude at school and increase their school participation
- learn right from wrong
- find an extended family - this is especially important today where biological families can be spread out over continents
- they statistically improve the odds that they will lead an active church life in their adults years
Growing up Catholic, a generation or two ago it was not uncommon to see Mom’s and kids only at church. In some parishes it was the norm. Church was considered something women did. Today, I still see moms alone with kids at church. I am in awe of them, the fact that they can get themselves and their kids out the door looking well presented. However, studies have shown that children who attend mass/church regularly with their fathers are the ones who are most likely to continue attending church on a regular basis.
A 1994 study in Switzerland found the following results. Surprisingly, it is important for a father to attend church with his kids, more important than the mother. According to the study if the father of a family does not go to church, only one child in 50 will become a regular church attendee. However if the father attends regularly then more than two-thirds of the children will become regular church goers. When I first read these statistics I was blown away. Yes these statistics are from Switzerland but they do relate to those of us not in Europe.
What amazed me most at these statistics is that I come from a family where the mothers were the ones to take their kids to church. I know for a fact that my grandfather was not a regular attendee at mass, but he was often away working. My grandmother on the other hand went to mass daily when her schedule allowed. My mother continued that tradition she not only attended mass solo with the kids, she was active as a CCD Teacher. My father would join us on Holidays but my mother never made him come to church. Some how my brothers and I beat those odds. We all still attend regularly, however my uncles, who did not see their father go to mass have fallen along the wayside. Surprisingly the study found that it was more important for the children to go to church with dad than with mom. It did not seem to matter how devout the mother was, it was the church going habits of the father that set the child up for life.