Parents are the first educators of their children's faith, but for how long?
Parents play an irreplaceable role in educating their children in faith. Does this responsibility end only when they die, or just until the children are older? Abbot Vincent Baumann, founder of KT Sens in Paris, an association for the religious formation of students and young professionals, shares his thoughts on this question.
How long are we responsible for our child’s spiritual formation?
Since the aim of education is to foster true autonomy in the child, parental intervention must progressively diminish as the child grows older. This does not mean parental responsibility ceases, but rather that it evolves. Until their deaths, the parents should strive to remain a model for their child while gradually receding, to the point where they become exclusively available for advice when requested.
Can we still intervene in their spiritual life after they become adults?
Young people who mature before the age of 18 are increasingly rare. Ultimately, the young adult will use the values they have inherited from their parents in any way they see fit. This is the consequence of their freedom.
What should we do if they stray from the faith?
It would be good for parents to adopt the position of the father in the parable of the prodigal son, by remaining ready to receive their child unconditionally. It is not a matter of never correcting the child, which the Gospel also recommends, but of remembering that this is only one of the ways we show mercy. Parents should not be afraid to let their children distance themselves from their perspective once their work as educators is over. Although their responsibility towards them remains, they are now only co-educators of these offspring, entrusted to them by a Father who never ceases to watch over them and who holds everything in his divine hand.
Interviewed by Elisabeth Caillemer