When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother
What will I be
Will I be pretty
Will I be rich
Here’s what she said to me
Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be…
So begins the song Que Sera Sera, by Doris Day, which was very popular when I was, in fact, a little girl. I remember singing it with my mother. Children love to imagine what they will do when they grow up, and the beauty is that they believe all things are possible. In one moment they imagine they will be lawyers and in the next they see themselves as actresses or truck drivers. As parents, we try to cultivate their talents, helping them to become their best selves.
Children love to work alongside their parents, baking with Mom or helping Dad make repairs. It is a great bonding experience to work together. While we may teach them how to measure flour or how to use a wrench, what we are really teaching them is loving service to one another. Whatever our vocation in life, it really comes down to that. The rest is detail.
As the children grow and we guide them in their discernment, we discuss the various possibilities – whether they will marry or remain single, whether they are called to the priesthood or religious life. Each is a call from God, and children should be aware that they should pay attention to His call. Parents, too, should watch for signs of a possible religious vocation. Sometimes parents are quite bewildered to see a child with piety beyond their own and don’t quite know what to make of it. Just as we would encourage a gifted athlete to pursue his or her talents, so with a child with a powerful gift of faith, we should do what we can to allow it to flourish.
All children, of course, should be encouraged to develop their relationship with Christ and to know their faith well. When it comes to vocations, there are plenty of late bloomers, whose attraction to the priesthood is not apparent until they are older. Likewise, the child we imagine would be a wonderful pastor may turn out to be a great husband and father. It is not for us to decide, but rather to guide. And the best way we can guide our children towards fulfilling their vocations is to live our own vocation to marriage well. Selfless service rooted in faith is the common denominator of all Christian vocations.
It’s a good idea to help our children to have some exposure to the various vocations. Hopefully they have regular exposure to faithful single and married people. Encourage a friendly relationship with your parish priest or other priests you may know. If possible, have some contact with religious sisters or brothers so that your children are aware of their life and work.
Most importantly, pray! Pray for your children to discern God’s plan for them. Pray that they will become their best selves.