Katie Dalton, Director of the Boston College Women’s Center, spoke at Agape Latte in Hillside last week about raising her children, faith, and failure. Various student musicians also performed before and after Dalton’s talk for the Christmas-themed event. Dalton was supposed to speak alongside Carroll School of Management Assistant Dean Ethan Sullivan, but Sullivan had to cancel last minute due to a sick child.
Dalton discussed her journey trying to raise her eldest son, Liam, in the Catholic faith and the various challenges she has faced in that over the course of the first two years of his life. She
focused primarily on times when she tried to be intentional in planting faith into Liam’s life, but fell short. She began by recounting the day she and her husband brought Liam home from the
hospital. They got out of the car and walked down the street to their parish with the intention of going inside to present their child to God and pray over their newborn. However when they got
there, they were met with locked doors. “Strike one,” she recounted.
She went on to tell many similar stories of Christian-parenting efforts gone awry. Her stories included tales of managing a walking, running, talking, and shouting toddler in Mass, and trying to teach him the true meaning of Christmas—which ended up being just a sugary, candle-less birthday cake for Jesus.
Students especially enjoyed a story of a time that Liam asked his mom, “Who God?”
“This is my moment” she thought, “This is the moment he will talk about one day in his Kairos talk!”
However, the moment was quickly averted from attention to God, to attention to a spider Liam saw on the ceiling. While Dalton was carefully crafting her words in order to best answer her son’s theological question, “Liam needed that spider down STAT.”
Over time though, between her struggles to insert faith into her young son’s life, Dalton also began to find God at work in ways her plans never could. She found God in Liam snuggling with his grandfather, telling her what he was thankful for, and sharing smiles over chocolate-y, syrupy pancakes on Christmas Eve.
Dalton’s message was clear: Boston College students strive for perfection. We like to think we have it all together, and that we can neatly and easily plan faith into our lives. We crave structure, and struggle with failure and letting go of control. Likely, we will someday struggle as parents in a similar way that Dalton has: feeling like we need to insert faith in to our children’s lives in a perfect, clean-cut way. But that is not always how God works best. He works in messy situations and in imperfection, and if we take a step back and just let moments unfold, often we will find God already at work.
Dalton and her husband now have a second son, and with him she has decided things will be different. She will not abandon structure, but rather embrace the grace of God, and know His goodness will abound no matter what.