Dear parents of our parish, know that there are many ways in which you can help your kids grow up in the Church. Rather, it is on you to bring them up in the Church or not. Principally, live out the Church in your home. Among many practical and simple things, this life means the following.
First, please speak to your children about church and church school as often as possible, especially with the smaller ones. Ask them what they have talked about in school, what they have learned, etc. This will help them remember better what they have been told in school and will make school even more familiar to them. Also, this will give you ideas about activities you can do at home. Many materials are available online (some free, some for sale), particularly on the following websites: https://dce.oca.org/page/resources/, https://www.goarch.org/-/religious-education-curriculum, https://antiochian.org/dashboard?name=christian%20education.
Second, keep in mind that, as they approach kindergarten age (about 3), our kids should participate in the liturgy rather than simply play in church. If your children are not there yet in age, then let them play, but please make sure they play in the most quiet way possible. Do not bring with you any toys which make noise or can be used in a noisy manner. Please, no Legos, toy cars, electronic games, tablets, etc. Bring instead coloring books (even better, bring coloring books with church images), or other books, soft toys, etc. But do keep in mind, quiet playful activities work in church if they are already introduced and become common at home. If a child does not play quietly and cannot hold his/her attention for long at home, he/she cannot be expected to play quietly and to be attentive in church. Fill your house with calm and quiet so that our church, too, is also filled with calm and quiet.
Third, please do not feed your children in church. If your child must be fed, then please step outside. This is an ancient practice and of great importance: in church one eats and drinks only what is blessed, what the church provides. By the way, it goes without saying that this prohibition includes us, the grown-ups. If one is sick or is elderly and needs to eat and/or drink something during a service, that is certainly allowed even right before Communion, but the eating and drinking must still be done outside of the church. Children should start fasting after the age of 7.
Fourth, please do not ask or—God forbid—force your children to take communion if they don’t come to church and don’t take communion on a regular basis. Often in such cases children spit out the holy Communion immediately after taking it. Talk to your child about church and Communion, bring them to church often, let them see how others commune for a few months, and then ask them to commune. Please do not expect that they would just do the proper thing out of the blue, as the saying goes. From now on, in order to avoid any spitting out of the holy Communion, I will refuse to give it to children whom I see rarely. If you come to church rarely, in order to avoid any misunderstandings, please do not send your children to the chalice.
As a related note, allow me to say one more thing: if you don’t come to church regularly, you will be the last generation in your family who will attend it at all. It is only by a miracle that your children may be brought back to the Church by God’s mercy alone, but statistics have shown that the parents’ habit of rare attendance almost always leads to the death of the faith in their children. Even if you come to church rarely, certainly you come because you think Church is important. Let me emphasize: your children won’t think like you. To them the church will be entirely insignificant. In their early years children are incapable of abstracting things and dissociating behavior from thought, and your rare attendance will be to them a sign that you don’t care about the Church, even if you tell them that you do. And in their later years, they will see the Church as an antiquated custom of old generations of no relevance to themselves. In today’s ferociously secular world the only good chance you give your own children for being part of the Church is your true membership in it.
Fifth, let me emphasize that how one prepares for church is very important. Our experience in church is very much determined by our preparation. Careful preparation will give us a sense of anticipation of something important and special, even a sense of awe and reverential excitement. We go to church joyfully, to meet God and to be in his presence. The preparation for church happens in every moment of our life. We cannot reasonably expect not to feel indifferent or out of place in church on Sunday if Sunday morning is the only time we give a thought to it and to God. As I already emphasized, children especially cannot put on a show of piety once a week and will rather act out their heartfelt habits. To put it another way, the manner in which we are in church is prepared by the manner in which we are at home and everywhere else. We, the parents, ought to be people of constant prayer.
Finally, let me point you to the page about "saints on the raising of children." Read and take their words to heart.