Family matters

Column: Does your child know what a gift he or she is to your family?

Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.

Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.

by Deacon Tony Zimmerman

As we were going through old pictures with our grandchildren, we came across a picture of my wife Barbara and me all dressed up for our senior prom.

Very quickly, our grandchildren identified the two people as our daughter Amy and our son Tim. It was amazing to see the resemblance.  It reminded me that one of the gifts of being open to life is that it brings more of our beloved spouse into the world. How awesome it is to see this reflection of our love for each other in our children.

Let’s face it: We have an important message to proclaim to the world about the beauty and richness that being open to new life brings to our families. We simply cannot wait to proclaim this message until couples come to us for preparation for sacramental marriage. Trying to overcome years of the culture that surrounds us in regard to the beauty of life in a few marriage preparation classes is not enough. So, what is the answer?

It begins with consistently celebrating the gift that each child has brought into our family. Beginning when our children are young, we need to speak to them about what it was like when we first found out that they were going to become part of our family. Tell them about the excitement and anticipation that we experienced waiting for them to be born.

Tell them how we made room for them in our house, preparing a special place just for them. Tell them about how it felt to hold them in your arms moments after they were born. Tell them how your life and your family would not be the same without them. Tell them why you chose the name that you gave them.

With a little gentle encouragement, you will be able to get your children to share around the dinner table one special thing that they would miss if their sister or brother were not in their life. I guess what I’m saying is that so often the treasure that we have right in front of us in our family is lost in the fast pace of today’s life.

How do I know that this can overcome our culture and change the world? I know simply by reflecting on how touched I was earlier today when Sam and Beth Meier brought their two sons, Samuel and Zachary, in to visit with their new little girl, Jane Frances. What a beautiful sight it was to see Zachary pull his sister down for a kiss and to see the joy on the faces of Sam and Beth.

For an older married couple, it reminds us of the joys we have experienced. For engaged or married couples, it inspires them to want to have this joy in their lives.

About the author

Deacon Tony Zimmerman

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