378 • Part III. Christian Morality: The Faith Lived
dren by their continuing love, their example, and the benefit of their life-
time experience. While it is right for society to help care for the elderly,
the family remains the rightful source of support.
PARENTS’ LOVE FOR THEIR CHILDREN
Parents exercise their love for their children by caring for their physi-
cal, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and moral needs. Concern for these
needs takes much time and commitment on the part of both mother and
father. Giving proper example to children is the most powerful form
of childrearing. Helping children to grow in virtue contributes to their
character formation. Inspirational stories, good parental example, and
repetition of acts of virtue are basic ways of forming the young.
Parents should teach their children to pray by praying with them
from their earliest years. Parents, as the first and primary educators, must
also ensure their children’s Catholic religious education and regular par-
ticipation in Mass and other aspects of parish life. Sharing with them the
lives of the saints, bringing them to church, helping them to participate
in the Mass, and encouraging them to go to Confession are necessary
ways to help children grow in faith. Catholic schools and parish reli-
gious education programs can help parents fulfill their responsibility to
educate their children in the Catholic faith. Parents are encouraged to
use Catholic schools and parish programs whenever possible.
Parental example in all these areas is essential, for the young need to
see a living faith in those they love. Emphasis on fundamental elements
of the faith—such as fostering a relationship with Christ and devotion to
Mary, the angels, and saints, along with love and concern for everyone
they meet—gradually forms the religious life of the young in a produc-
tive and creative way.
When children become adults, they assume the responsibility of how
they will live and work. Parents should not exert undue pressure on
their children when the children are faced with these decisions (cf. CCC,
no. 2230). However, since parents often know their children well, they
can direct their children to make decisions in harmony with their gifts