My 7 year old daughter has been saying she wants to be a nun for about a year. As a parent, how can I protect her vocation?
Dear Fr Anthony,
My 7 year old daughter has been saying for about a year now that she wants to be a nun when she grows up. I fully support her with words of encouragement and prayers. My concern is that she goes to public school and I don't want her to lose sight of her calling with all the distraction and false priorities in society. The cost of catholic school is high. We could afford it now with me working full-time but we are trying to have another child, and if that happens my income goes away. Do you have any advice? Are there any web sites that help or encourages parents to support their kid's calling?
First of all, what a beautiful attitude of openness to life and seeking the best for your children. God sees the heart, and is sure to bless your response to the grace and call he gave you and your husband in the Sacrament of Matrimony. So, by no means are you left on your own to find a solution to your present situation.
We are hoping in the new reworking we are doing of the vocation.com website to include a Parent's Corner. I don't know of a particular site devoted to encouraging parents to support their kid's calling, but I am sure there are many ones that do so indirectly or among other things. I am thinking of sites dedicated to spirituality and spiritual development and the call of the laity, the websites of the various movements, the Vatican website. I am sure you will come across a lot of helpful hints, suggestions and encouragement.
I think the key is to focus with your husband on making your home a real Domestic Church where prayer, love, instruction, service to others are all part of daily life. Keep your ears wide open to catch any hint of another mindset rather than the Christian/Catholic one developing in your daughter, and keep very close to her and her friends, their conversations, their interests. It is very important to keep the religious formation you give your children focused on the positive: the presence of Christ, gratitude and love for all he has done for us, a desire to pay him back in the best way possible, and a sense that the faith we have received is a gift God wants to give others through us, etc, as well as being central to our faith (or precisely because it is) this is one of the best preventive antidotes to what your daughter is sure to come up against as she grows, the idea that the Church is the Church of No, thou shall not, the universal killjoy, the death of all enjoyment and life, the enemy of progress.
On top of this, it is very important and helpful to be in contact with other married couples who share your concerns, so that your children can have good friendships that reinforce what they receive at home instead of systematically destroying it, as sometimes happens in public schools and private, non-religious schools. Sometimes you find this support in certain parish groups, or groups affiliated with some movement or order. Just make sure that whatever one you want to get associated with has the Churchs approval.
And, as always, prayer. God cannot turn down prayer from a heart that only seeks to know and do his will.