Ten Ways to Raise Pro-Life Children
Somehow, my kids have never been to a pr0-life march or rally. Every year I resolve to remedy this. But even if we never do, I know that I am raising pro-life kids, who are proud of their beliefs and will not hesitate to share them. Here are some of the things that help kids become pro-life and stay that way for life:
1. Make sure they spend time with the greatest spokesmen for the pro-life cause: nice little babies. So many Americans grow up without ever having held or spent time with a baby, and are taught that pregnancy is an expensive catastrophe to be avoided at all costs. People with this warped view are easy to persuade that a fetus is a parasite with no right to life. Plenty of people love babies and still somehow accept abortion, of course; but I remember being about 7 and holding my baby brother. I admired his smooth cheeks and silky hair, and then suddenly realized, "Some people think it would be okay to kill him." That was when I fully realized that abortion wasn't an abstract problem, but something that exterminated real people with real souls, babies who just want to be held, just like my baby brother.
2. Teach them about civic responsibility. Legislative tools are not the only one in the pro-life work box, but they are invaluable. Make sure kids don't think government is some boring hobby for nerds. Let them see you contact your state rep, and talk to them about how pro-life issues affect your vote.
3. Give them the whole pro-life picture, from conception to natural death. Pro-life work includes saving women and babies from abortion, but it also means visiting nursing homes, treating weirdos with respect, feeding the hungry, helping a new mom with babysitting, and anything else that brings hope and comfort to other people.
4. Be forthright about what the Church teaches. If some aspect of the Church's teaching about the sanctity of life doesn't sit well with you or your kids -- IVF, euthanasia, family planning -- look into it together, rather than glossing over it or saying, "Well, that's what the Church says, so it must be true."
5. Don't get sucked into negativity or infighting. It's called "pro-life" for a reason: because we're for something. If "pro-life" in your house means bitter arguments, name-calling, or endless hand-wringing over those morons who are doing it all wrong, then your kids will either draw all the wrong lessons about what it means to be pro-life, or will stay away from the issue entirely, as soon as they're on their own.
6. Even if you keep it positive, don't let it be the only thing your family does. Because it is such an intense and important mission, it's vital to get away from it every once in a while. If you are a super duper pro-life warrior, that is fabulous! But even warriors have to rest, and so do their families.
7. Make it part of routine prayer. I am not crazy about Fulton Sheen's spiritual adoption prayer. I don't know why; it hits all the right points, and is simple and direct, but it gets on my nerves. But we say it anyway, because I love the idea of taking responsibility for the well-being of someone else. Anyone with a prayer life should routinely pray for an end to abortion.
8. Be on guard against misogyny. Most pro-lifers just want to help, but there is a small faction who are motivated by the desire to humiliate and punish women -- women who are pregnant and single, women who are considering abortion, women who repent of their abortions, or just women who have new ideas about the best way to fight abortion. Mary didn't call Eve a slut or a whore, even though Eve was the one whose sin led to the death of Mary's Child. When we're tempted to demonize women, we can follow Mary's example of generous love, and pray to see our own sins more clearly.
9. Model courage in speaking out about pro-life matters. You don't have to be on the radio or leading a rally. You just have to have the guts to be the one who doesn't nod in approval when someone in your group says something that isn't true -- "Abortion is safer than childbirth" (of course it's not) or "It's just a blob of cells" (yes, people still say this. My daughter heard it in school the other day -- and yes, she spoke up). Kids notice these things, and will follow suit when they have their own opportunities to go against the crowd.
10. Be joyful! We know who wins this fight in the end.