This is a good question and one I wish I heard more! The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.” (CCC 2223) This includes education in our faith. It is incumbent upon you, as parents, to take seriously the preparation of your children for the sacraments. So, thank you for taking this responsibility seriously.
Here’s some practical advice:
1. Find out from your pastor or faith formation leader what knowledge your child is expected to have before receiving the sacraments. It’s good for you to know what your child needs to know. Take time to contact your pastor or the formation office at your parish to find out what’s necessary, so you can begin to have conversations with your child at home about the sacraments.
2. Share stories with your child about how the sacraments have affected your life. If you don’t know how to do this, try telling that story to yourself first, write it out, and say it out loud. Then think about how you would explain that “Jesus moment” to a 9-year-old. It is OK to rehearse important conversations. Your child needs to know the sacraments are important to you and why.
3. Make sure you know what the Church teaches about these sacraments. It is all in the catechism. Find the paragraphs on the sacraments and familiarize yourself with what the Church teaches. This is indispensable to answering questions your child may ask and will make you a better teacher of the faith.
4. Once your child has identified their confirmation saint, go all out on learning about the saint and discuss it with your child. There are many things you can do to reinforce the saint’s presence in their life, such as get a statue, an image, or a prayer card to help make sure your child has something that reminds them of this heavenly relationship. Or find a movie or YouTube video about the saint if one exists. Just be sure to reinforce the relationship between your child and the saint throughout their formidable life.
5. Take your child to confession in the months leading up to their reception of confirmation and holy Communion. Your parish may already make this a regular thing, but, as a parent, you can demonstrate through your actions that it is important to regularly confess sins so that you can be in the best condition to receive God’s grace in the sacrament of holy Communion.
6. Don’t forget the most powerful weapon you have at your disposal: PRAYER! Pray for your child that he or she may receive the grace of the sacraments with a grateful heart and a curiosity to grow closer to the Lord every day of their life. And remember, you should be their model for how this looks!