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April 9, 2020

Welcoming little children

Nneka Ruiz Montalvo

With schools being closed and most adults working from home these days, those of us who are parents are now with our children 24 hours a day. We can react to homeschooling while working from home by being frustrated and overwhelmed. Another option is to react to this situation by opening our hearts our children like never before. Young children love nothing more than spending lots of quality time with their parents. As such, we have incredible power to make these days the best days of their entire lives!

Let’s examine the Word of God for some inspiration on how we should treat our children during this time:

  • Welcoming a young child is the same as welcoming Jesus and God the Father

Taking a child he placed it in their midst and putting his arms around it he said to them “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me” (Mk 9:36-37).

  • Jesus wants children to be brought close to him and tells us that we need to receive Him with the same innocence children have

Spending unlimited time with our children can really open our eyes to their incredible innocence and purity of heart and give us perfect models to imitate in our relationship with God.

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them (Mk 10:13-16)

  • We should love children because their angels are constantly praying for them

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven (Matt 18:10).

  • The greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbour

Our neighbour includes our children who may interrupt us when we are trying to participate in a conference call related to our jobs. Act like the good Samaritan and respond to your child with love.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:36-40)

  • The love we show to our children during these difficult days is a clear reflection of the love we have for God

“If anyone says “I love God” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him; whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 Jn 4:20-21)

Practical tips to make your children feel welcome during this pandemic:

  • First of all, set aside some quiet time alone every morning and night for prayer and contemplation on the Word of God. We need God’s grace to get through this difficult and unprecedented time in our lives while also having enough peace in our hearts to make our children feel welcome

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matt 6:6)

  • Smile warmly and encouraging at your children whenever they approach you.
  • Get down on the floor and play with them at their level
  • Purchase poster paint, scrap paper, glue and other craft items at a supermarket or pharmacy and create works of art
  • Find simple recipes for cookies, cakes and muffins to make with your children
  • Cut up some fruit and get your kids to help you create beautiful fruit salads
  • Go outside into your yard and create exciting obstacle courses for your kids
  • Get your children involved with cleaning and organising your home. Little kids find a way to make a fun game out of tasks that seem tedious to adults
  • Give them lots of hugs and kisses and tell them that you are enjoying spending time with them

God loves children and welcoming them is a clear directive from the Word of God. In addition, it is a precious and beautiful way to show God love and welcome Him into our hearts. While the world is experiencing unprecedented levels of stress, fear and uncertainty, as parents, we have the power to bless our children with memories of fun, love and happiness that they will treasure for a lifetime.

Nneka Ruiz Montalvo is a married mother of one son. She is an active member of St Anthony’s parish and is involved in the parish’s Sunday School ministry to children.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed belong solely to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Catholic News, the staff of Catholic Media Services Ltd or the Archdiocese of Port of Spain.