Comprehending the concept of heaven is seriously challenging for Catholic adults. Explaining heaven to our children can be even more difficult.
Catholic parents and grandparents must first understand the developmental stages of their children, their capacity to understand, and their desire for information, advises the Diocese of Orange’s Katie Dawson, director of Parish Faith Formation.
“Young children intuitively know there’s more to life than the material world,” Dawson explains. “They know they come from somewhere. They understand God as a mysterious presence who loves them.
When someone they love dies, she adds, parents want to offer comfort. Sharing information about the afterlife can provide solace.
“It’s important that we don’t give them more information than they need,” Dawson warns. “They need a thimbleful of information – not a firehose. If a child starts to ask about what happens after death, that’s a great opportunity to talk about heaven.
“We should give them the truth [about what happens to our bodies when we die] and then share the idea that we are more than just a body. As people with souls, when we die our souls return to God. We call that heaven.”
Catholic parents can keep conversations about God, the things of God, and heaven going among family members, she recommends. “The best thing is if there’s an ongoing conversation about life with God in the family,” she says. “This is where it’s important to build the practice of praying together, reading good books that provide spiritual input and creating a strong foundation.”
As parents we must set strong and lasting examples of faith for our children. Then, she notes, “If we turn to the Holy Spirit to see what kind of conversations our children need, how to address and anticipate their needs, then we lay the foundation for our children to share their feelings with us.”
Full story at OC Catholic.