Sending Your Child to College as a Spiritual Adult

With high school graduations behind us, many parents are preparing to send their children off to college this Fall, where they will be on their own for the first time. As they move on to the next phase of life, many of these students will be responsible for their own cooking, cleaning, and studying, but also responsible for their own spiritual life. How can parents be sure they have given their children the tools to head off to college as spiritual adults?

Bishop Anthony Taylor of the Diocese of Little Rock stopped by Morning Air® to share what it means to be a spiritual adult, and how parents can prepare their children to make their faith their own.

“Becoming a spiritual adult involves getting to know Jesus personally,” said Bishop Taylor. “So you’re really no longer living your parents faith, you’re living your own faith. That personal relationship with Jesus, where you’re talking to Him all day long, serves as the foundation for everything else. And if you don’t have a living relationship with Jesus, then everything else is on a shaky foundation.”

So how can parents help their children find that personal relationship with Christ? Bishop Taylor suggests that “They need to be living their faith in a way that goes beyond simply meeting all the obligations – going to Mass and those sorts of things – and to share what a difference the Lord has made in their own lives. In their decision-making and how it was a living relationship with the Lord that drives everything else they do, and to share that with their kids in a way that is honest and sincere.”

But if you’re worried you don’t have exactly the right words to explain your relationship with Jesus, remember that the words aren’t the most important thing.

“That invitation to encounter Christ is caught more than it is taught,” said Bishop Taylor. “And when young people see their parents really living their faith, that goes way beyond anything in particular that they might say.”

For many parents, however, their children have already stopped practicing their Catholic faith, or they fear that as soon as they are on their own they will leave their Catholic faith behind. Bishop Taylor reassured parents that this is no reason to give into despair or feel like a failure.

“Parents need to have some ‘ambiguity tolerance’ and remember their own journey of faith,” he said. “Perhaps they had a chapter in their own life where they took a little vacation away from the Lord. But it’s part of the process also of making it your own. You don’t want your kids to live your faith, you want them to live their faith, their relationship with Jesus. And they can’t live your faith anymore than they can live your marriage.”

“A lot of it involves trusting the Holy Spirit, giving kids the space to encounter the Lord, but not throwing up your hands and saying, ‘Well, I did my best and they’re on their own.’ There is a journeying with them that’s involved.”

Listen to the full conversation with Bishop Anthony Taylor below:

Morning Air can be heard weekdays from 6:00 – 9:00 a.m. Eastern/3:00 – 6:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.