Column: Add this one to the list of conversations to have with your kids

by Father Mitchel Zimmerman

Have you had “the talk” with your kids?

What talk is the vocation director thinking about? Surely not the birds and the bees talk!

Parents are encouraged to talk to their kids about all kinds of things — about sex, about drugs, about relationships. There is no substitute for parents knowing their kids.

I am writing this week about a conversation that I sense is getting skipped in our Catholic homes. The conversation is about religious vocations.

Specifically, does your child know where you stand and how you feel about religious vocations in general, and your take on your own child possibly having just such a vocation? I could lament, I suppose, some statistics showing that as many as two-thirds of Catholic parents are not supportive of their child becoming a priest or a Sister. But I see it as more of a challenge for my office to find a way to educate parents. Most families do not have a religious vocation within the family, so there is more misunderstanding and unnecessary fear than ever.

I have found that God does not just call men and women from families who are supportive. God calls whom he wants to call for the priesthood and religious life. That means that all of our families need to have some competence and readiness should this call from Jesus come their way.

Talk to your kids about whether or not you would support their going to the seminary or to a convent. At what age would you be all right with your child entering formation, if at all? Would you accompany them on a visit to a seminary or monastery or convent? Would you support your child considering the priesthood or religious life as a first option, or do you expect them to save it as a last resort after all other options have been exhausted? Do your kids know whether a vocation to the priesthood or religious life would make you happy, or sad, or both?

Trust me. Your talking to your kids about vocations, married or religious, is important. Your kids need to know where you stand.

They may not share everything with you, and they may or may not want to talk about it with you, but knowing of your support is critical if they are to succeed in listening to the voice of Christ and in trying to do whatever he tells them (see Jn 2:5).

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