Parenting Like Mary

Today, we’re talking about how to marianize your approach to parenting. I want to offer you one way that you can follow Mary’s example in being a parent. I’m taking this week’s formation point from a catechesis given by Saint John Paul II back in 1996 entitled, “Mary, Educator of the Son of God”.

What does it mean for Mary to be a mother?

There are two ways we can understand Mary’s role as Mother of Jesus, says St. John Paul II.

First, there is the biological meaning. The Holy Father taught,

“Although occurring by the work of the Holy Spirit and a Virgin Mother, the birth of Jesus, like that of all human beings, went through the phases of conception, gestation and delivery.”

The second meaning naturally follows the first. It is the educational meaning. The Holy Father continued,

“In addition, Mary’s motherhood was not limited to the biological process of giving birth, but as it happens with every other mother, she also made an essential contribution to her son’s growth and development.

A mother is not only a woman who gives birth to a child, but one who brings him up and teaches him; indeed, we might well say that, according to God’s plan, the educational task is the natural extension of procreation.

Mary is the Theotókos, not only because she conceived and gave birth to the Son of God, but also because she accompanied him in his human growth.”

That Mary is Mother in this second way is perhaps a greater mystery than the first! Let’s listen to what the Holy Father continued to say,

“We might think that, since Jesus possessed in himself the fullness of divinity, he had no need of teachers. But the mystery of the Incarnation reveals to us that the Son of God came into the world in a human condition similar to us in all things except sin (cf. Heb 4:15). As is the case with every human being, Jesus’ growth, from infancy to adulthood (cf. Lk 2:40), also needed his parents’ educational activity.”

And what exactly was Mary’s (and Joseph’s) educational activity?

“Mary’s educational task with regard to such a unique son presents several special features in comparison with the role of other mothers. She only provided favorable conditions for the development of the potential and essential values for growth, already present in the Son. For example, the absence of any form of sin in Jesus demanded a constantly positive orientation from Mary, which excluded any form of corrective intervention. Furthermore, although it was his mother who introduced Jesus to the culture and traditions of the people of Israel, it was he, from the time of his finding in the temple, who would reveal his full awareness of being the Son of God, sent to spread the truth in the world and exclusively follow the Father’s will.”

Although his way of being mother was unique to Mary because of her Unique Son, nevertheless it gives parents an insight into how they can marianize their parenting. I especially want to highlight that Mary “provided favorable conditions for the development” of her Son.

Parenting like Mary

Like Mary, the vocation of parenting involves providing children with the favorable conditions for human and Christian maturity. Like Mary and Joseph who created a home environment and style of family living that was worthy of their Son’s divinity and corresponding to God’s plan of redemption, so also parents who want to model their parenting on Mary’s way should do the same.

Concretely, this can translate into

  • creating a prayerful and orderly home environment
  • forming the habits of prayer at home
  • making a family schedule that prioritizes attendance at Mass on Sundays and going to Confession frequently
  • getting rid of worldly distractions like smart phones at family meal-time, and especially removing all occasions of sin.

Regarding the last point, whether parents realize it or not, in addition to being great tools of communication, smart phones today have also become occasions of sin. Creating a home environment conducive to holiness should especially keep this in mind, making sure that everyone at home forms the habit of leaving smart phones out of the bedroom, so that minds, hearts and consciences can rest peacefully each night.

Now, I know that for some people what I am proposing in today’s post might require making big changes. But big changes of this kind are the best changes, because they have your and your children’s salvation and holiness in mind. So, be not afraid, and take up the dignity and vocation of being the parent of a future saint by modeling Mary’s way of parenting.


Seize the day and make it all Hers!