Building a culture of life in the home not only helps society, but transforms our families as well. Here are three ways to start.
Editor’s note: We’re pleased to welcome Laura Kizior and Mary Kizior, content developers for American Life League, to Peanut Butter and Grace. This is the first installment of a monthly column we’re calling Pro-Life at Home.
by Laura Kizior and Mary Kizior
What does it mean to be pro-life? When we think of the pro-life movement, we imagine rallies, protests, and heated arguments on social media. Hundreds of thousands of families and students attend the March for Life in Washington, DC every year. Families like yours respect preborn children and are open to the gift of life, yet abortion still remains legal in our country. With the negative influences of sex education, contraception, the contraceptive mindset, and other elements of the culture of death seeping into schools and homes through television, billboards, pop culture, and magazines, we need to do more if we want to restore the dignity of the human person in our society.
In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), Saint Pope John Paul II talks about doing more than simply “being pro-life.” If we want to end the threats against the lives of innocent human beings, we must do more to change the culture than spend one weekend per year speaking on behalf of the voiceless. We have to create a culture that respects the dignity of each person. This starts in our homes.
For families, this means actively teaching our kids pro-life values and showing them how to live those values. Building a culture of life in the home will not only help society, it will transform our families. Here are three areas you can focus on as you build a culture of life in your family:
Build stronger family relationships
A culture of life reinforces the truth that each person is a gift from God. There is no such thing as too many people, for God has purposefully willed each person into existence. God has a special plan for each of us—a job that no one else can do. In a true culture of life, every person is valued.
Pro-life education trains children how to form good relationships with their fellow man. When children learn about the dignity of each person, they learn a new way of life—a new way of treating others with respect. The way that we treat our family members carries over into how we treat our fellow man. If we cannot even use kind words when talking to those we love, how will we respond when we meet someone we disagree with or someone who is awkward or different? The home is a training ground for the world. If our children don’t learn patience, understanding, and charity at home, we cannot expect them to become charitable adults.
In your family, build a culture of life and strengthen personal relationships by encouraging respectful speech among family members. Teach how to tease kindly; guard against gossip and name-calling. Take time to remind an argumentative child to see the face of Jesus in every person he disagrees with and set an example for your kids by listening to others before responding—even when you disagree.
Cultivate a spirit of service
Remind your children that God has a special job for them and guide them to seek opportunities to help others. The culture of life contains a necessary element of service. If we don’t reach out to those who are struggling in our own community, how can we hope to end the suffering in other parts of the world?
As we build a culture of life in our homes, we become more aware of ways that we can serve the people around us. But we must encourage a spirit of service in our children by our own example. When you take your children to do acts of mercy, like passing out cards at a nursing home, volunteering at the Special Olympics, or helping at a soup kitchen, if helps them realize how lucky they really are and reinforces service as a regular part of daily life.
Teach your family that doing acts of “service” is much more than preparing for Confirmation or going on a yearly mission trip. Little acts of service, such as visiting an elderly neighbor, reaching out to a shy child, babysitting for a single mom, or even having a tea party with a little sister when the child would rather be playing Legos are just as important as building houses in South America.
Offer comfort to others
Suffering teaches us that we are not all-powerful. As Christians, we understand that suffering is a part of life and that through offering up our pains and sorrows, we can better unite ourselves with Christ and His suffering on the cross. Suffering can help people (including great saints like St. Francis and St. Ignatius) turn back to God.
Selflessness doesn’t come naturally to most people, so that’s where we must lead by example. For your kids, comforting others might be as simple as cheering up a wounded sibling, writing to grandparents, helping mom when she’s tired, or putting the needs of siblings first.
Learning about the culture of life helps children understand the necessity of caring for every person, especially in the midst of suffering and near the end of life. When we learn to recognize the inestimable value of the human person, we understand the importance of caring for those who are ill or dying. A culture of life focuses on helping people live with dignity until God calls them home to Himself. As euthanasia and other threats to human dignity take hold in our society, it is important for children to recognize the worth of suffering in their everyday lives.
Understanding the sacredness of every person is the foundation on which we will change our culture into a culture of life. Through living the culture of life in your home, your children will learn how to reach out to the people around them and learn how to defend their beliefs about the dignity of the human person.
A society that values the dignity of each person starts with pro-life education in the family. Visit CultureOfLifeStudies.com to find more tools and resources that you can use with your children to create a culture of life in your home.