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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 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