by Parish Staff
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
May the Peace of the Risen Christ be with you!
As the school year begins, I would to turn my attention to you parents. One of the hardest jobs that one can have is parenting. It is a grave responsibility to teach your children what they need to know to be good, responsible people as well as to what they will need to know to survive in the world when they leave home. The different stages of growth that a child goes through present a different set of problems at each stage. Parents need to love each other so that their love will spill over onto their children. A single parent has a particularly challenging job. Parents need to have a strong love relationship with God that they can share with their children. Parenting is not easy.
A while back I came across an editorial in the Corpus Christi Caller Times entitled “Do your kids a favor. Say no” written by Linda White, an editorial writer for The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va. Some of you may have missed it so I want to share part of this editorial with you.
Parenting is an art. It is more than keeping a kid alive and more than simply making rules. It is a kind of leadership rooted in one’s character and grounded in love. Good parenting establishes a bond of mutual respect. Good parenting is an increasingly rare commodity.
And yet our children need it. Take sex, for example. I took my daughter, a high school senior, on a back-to-school shopping trip. We went to a preppy store that sells, among other things, T-shirts with slogans – the sort of thing that looks like you might have bought it on vacation but everyone knows you didn’t. This year, most of the slogans on the girls’ shirts contained sexual innuendos. I thought to myself, “Does that mean what I think it means?”
My daughter confirmed my suspicions. “Aren’t they skanky?” She groaned: “Skanky? Yes”. And why were the mothers in there buying them for their daughters? Paying big bucks? So their girls could look like tramps?
Good parenting sees beyond the latest styles and says “No,” rather then automatically reaching for the credit card. Good parents, in their hearts, know the value of purity.
Purity. What an old-fashioned word. Symbolized by traditional white wedding dresses, purity and her sister, modest, are lost virtues. Instead, women are encouraged to wield sexual power like a sword. Hollywood elevates Britney and Madonna to goddess stature, and blindly the people follow as if sex and power are the way to happiness and fulfillment.
If you have not established a bond with your kids in their younger years, communicating the value of modesty to teens is like screaming at a toddler to stop grabbing candy. It won’t work, even if you are two feet away.
And if parents have bought into the cultural model, if parents close their eyes to the sexual behavior that “skanky” dressing encourages, then the kids have no hope, for there is no one to help them set the boundaries.
Preschoolers need someone who has the courage to lovingly take their hand, calmly look them in the eye, and say “No” when they reach for the gum on the candy aisle. And do it again and again and again, coupled with firm discipline at home, until they get the message.
Today’s teens are looking for someone with the courage to say: “You are precious to me. I don’t want you looking like a tramp. Therefore, we won’t be buying those low-cut blouses or T-shirts with sexual phrases on them.”
Parenting is an art, and, like all forms of art, it takes time and dedication and a passionate heart. To the young mom in the grocery store, I would say, “Find another mom to help you learn how to capture your kids’ hearts (and respect) now, while they are young.” Producing masterpieces of any kind is a daunting task, and we all need help.
I hope you parents will find this editorial helpful. The example you set is extremely important especially in helping your kids have a meaningful relationship with the Lord. If you do not accompany them to Mass on Sunday as well as making sure that your family sets aside a regular time to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the changes that your kids will develop a loving relationship the Eucharistic Jesus and with the forgiving Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation are lessened. Your kids’ spiritual life is strengthened by your own spiritual life.
Please pray for me and all the priests and seminarians of our Diocese.
I love you,