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 | By Sheri Wohlfert

Newborn owner’s manual

How to Raise Saints - Part 1

Much to a parent’s dismay, kids don’t come with instructions. We know they are a gift from God, but there are many times we’re not sure how to handle the gift. This article is the first in a three-part series designed to help new parents navigate their way from the newborn to school-aged child. Many parents know the words of Hannah from 1 Sam 1:27: “I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request.” But once the prayer is answered, we can feel a little lost. Raising saints is the mission of Catholic parents, and the ideas that follow are designed to help new (and seasoned) parents do just that.


The biggest thing:

Your child is a gift from God, and he loves that child more than you ever could. He has a plan for this little human; and as he knit this child in the womb he equipped this baby with every gift needed to live out this plan. Run to God often in prayer and ask for his wisdom, strength and grace to cooperate with his will for this child.

Simple truth:

You will be tired; life will be messy and unpredictable. The power wielded by your tiny human simply boggles the mind! You won’t get everything done, most things you own will have spots and stains, and you might not feel put together for several months … that’s the NORM! Don’t compare your new-parent journey to anyone else’s because no two babies are alike. The first year, everything comes in seasons … they come and go quickly so just roll with the change … this new little person is so busy trying to learn how to just be alive and you’re busy trying to figure out how to keep them that way. Prayer and laughter are your greatest strategies. Soak it all in, love hard, laugh often and know it will pass in a blink!

Best friend:

You won’t always be able to choose your child’s friends … except for the first and best friend they could ever have. Pick a saint for your baby and call on their intercession often to bless and guide and inspire your child. Choose a saint who embodies the qualities you hope to instill in your child. Allow this holy hero to be a part of your child’s daily life and pray often for their intercession for you as the parent.

Learn, learn, learn:

Google doesn’t know you, and shouldn’t be your first go-to for raising saints. Knowledge is great, but don’t rely on product manufacturers and doctors to tell you what’s best for your family. Do your homework and seek the wisdom of parents you admire. You are responsible for this baby, so in a threefold approach identify your trusted circle of wisdom, trust your instincts and steep each decision and milestone in prayer. Popular doesn’t mean best … you define that!

Listen and sort:

A fair bit of the “wisdom” you’ll be slathered with will be unsolicited. Remember it is offered in love so listen, offer thanks and sort the message to see if it fits with your goals and style of parenting. If the advice is persistent, lovingly promise you will pray about the best way to proceed.

The mission:

Your mission is to raise a saint, and that is done through praying for and with your child and your spouse. When things seem overwhelming, remind yourself that your job is to keep them holy and safe, and to love them as hard as you can. Sacrifice is the greatest form of love … just look at the crucifix. Know that all the sacrifices of body, sleep, energy and productivity you make these first months as a parent make all the difference.  A good rule of thumb … babies need half the stuff and twice the time. Every day pray, play and read with your baby and you’re getting it right!

Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic wife, mom, grandma, speaker and writer. Catch her blog at

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