by Lindsay Schlegel
Children notice and mimic so much of what we do, for better or for worse. Sometimes it’s cute to hear our kids speak like we do, and other times, it can be humbling.
In either case, our children mirroring us parents is an invitation to us to show them how to approach the joys and the challenges of daily living. In repeating our phrasing and copying our gestures, our children are making us aware of the opportunity we have to give them the best possible example of what it means to live a life centered on Christ and His Church.
This is why it’s so important that we parents have a relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary and that we share that relationship with our children. We can’t be everywhere with our children. We can’t always watch over them. But our children have another mother, a spiritual mother, who can do just that.
Behold, Your Mother
At His crucifixion, Jesus told Mary, “Behold, your son,” and He told John, “Behold, your mother.” The Church understands this exchange to encompass more than these two individuals. Rather, Jesus gave all people Mary as their mother. He gave Mary all people as her sons and daughters.
Mary loves us (and our kids), prays for us (and our kids), and wants to intercede for us (and our kids) to her Son, Jesus. When we make a habit of turning to Mary for her help by praying the rosary, the memorare, or just a Hail Mary, we not only grow in holiness, but we also set a good example for our children to follow as they grow up.
Try this: Next time you think you’re going to lose your cool, take a deep breath and say a Hail Mary. Pray out loud. You might invite you child to join you, or you might do it on your own. See if it makes a difference in the way you respond to the situation. If you can make this a habit, you may soon notice your children doing the same.
Reflecting His Love
Mary is everything a Mother’s Day card describes and more: she is beautiful, patient, gentle, humble, joyful, loving, and kind. She is a woman we can all emulate, but for some, her example may seem too perfect, too tough to follow. I’ll never be that holy, we might think.
I doubt Mary would see it that way. She gave herself fully to God. Her “yes,” her “fiat,” was never about her. Her whole life was about the Lord, whom she loved so dearly. If we want to live and love like Mary, we simply need to love with all we have.
I love thinking of Mary this way: she is like the moon, and Christ is like the sun. The moon only shines because it reflects the light of the sun. So it is with Mary—she is lovely and faithful and generous because she gave her life so fully to Christ. Everything she does reflects Him. Everything she shows us points us back to Him.
That is something we can try to do, too. In the way we speak to others and in the way we respond to the needs of our families, we can conduct ourselves as if we were serving Christ Himself (because we really are!). When we practice this shift in mentality—this change of heart—we bear fruit for more than ourselves. We set the tone for a Christ-centered home.
For Us and for Our Kids
If we are striving to be holy and striving to be saints, as we are all called to do, Mary is our finest example. If we can say yes like she did, then we can be holy, too. And if we want to help our children be holy, we need to show them what it looks like to strive for holiness.
We can and will make mistakes. So will our children. But if we accept Mary as our Mother and we encourage our children to do the same, we will find that our families—today and tomorrow—are in the very best hands.
Lindsay Schlegel is the author of Don't Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God. She and her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband live in New Jersey with their five children.