Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Notes from the 2016 Notre Dame Symposium 1: Parents Matter

CHRISTIAN SMITH & JUSTIN BARTKUS:  "From Generation to Generation: How American Catholic Parents Today Approach Passing on the Faith to their Children"

Parents are the biggest influence on American teenagers. The predicted religiosity of young adults can be identified by age 15. Parents who attend religious services regularly have teens whose religiosity is stable- high. Other factors don't have quite as much effect. The most powerful factor is parents who talk about faith at home.

Studied 245 parents 73 were Catholic from upper, middle & lower classes. Personal in depth interviews

The household is a culture in miniature a meaning-making project. It is fundamental to children's existential initiation. It is permeable to other cultures - sports, faith, etc.

Parental transmission of faith is a cultural project
Catholicism is a lifelong commitment
Success happens when maturing children see that Catholic commitment = success.
Failure happens when maturing children see that Catholic commitment = failure.

Children must perceive intrinsic value to religious commitment. They easily see inauthenticity when they see gaps in modeling or elevation of other priorities.

Parents are "arch-celebrities" in their household by power of personality practices and way of being - they model & generate culture of household. they are the dominant influence.

Many Catholic parents outsource religion to the parish program.

Interview with mother of 3 teens who is personally devoted to faith.. has the intention to transmit, but her religiosity is thin. So sends them to religious ed.

Any household that intends to transmit faith has to have

  1. narrative of motives
  2. degree of conscious intentionality
  3. parents supplying religious content
  4. enacted interpretation of intended religiosity at key moments in family life

Common motives:

  • Dogmatic
  • Individualistic
  • Morale boost
  • Ethnic -family identity 
  • Formational
  • Moralistic

Many are inarticulate/ineffective

Key question is there gap between motive and commitment?

When parents reflect on their motive there is coherence
Frequent, repetitive and participatory

Religious content takes several forms:

Institutions and programs are secondary to parental modeling.
Failure is not because of bad programming but failure of parental modeling
Effective households reflect inter penetration of church & home
Religious content is not in itself enough

Enacted interpretation:

  • Conversations in household
  • Parental explicitness about transmission
  • Outward manifestation of parental conversion
  • Substantial processing of religious motives in life experiences I the household

Spiritual personality of parents is single most powerful force. Possible only if they intend transmission

Parents and churches both need to understand centrality of parental role. Faith cannot be seen as belonging only to parents.Parents are Gatekeepers, Sponsors, Interpreters of Catholicism to their children

Q & A
Who is the carrier of Catholic faith now? The old carriers in our culture don't carry any more. The challenge is for parent and churches to be reflexive now.

Empower parents to share faith, don't shame them.

NEXT NOTES: 2 - "Digital Media and the Liturgical Capacity of the Christian"

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