Have you ever had to disappoint your children by saying, “No” or forced them into something they didn’t want to do? Yes, every day! I told my children they’d be disappointed less if they’d ask me less for things they know we’ll say, “No” too. However, I think they began asking more often, figuring I’d relent more because I felt bad that so often I said, “No.” And sometimes it worked – especially when I felt guilty for being busy with work.
It’s a reality, but it wasn’t good for them. From the world’s perspective it was often minor and totally acceptable. From a faith perspective, I wonder. It introduced inconsistencies. My children learned that my “state of being,” fully focused on time with them or busy with other tasks, could determine how well I would stand on our principles, especially regarding the shows or movies they could see. Unfortunately, the message they got was that standings on some issues were less firm when I was busy – which called into question the reality of principles – where they actually just arbitrary parental decisions?
Growing older, the young lawyers-in-training remembered every precedent - each inconsistency – and filibustered to wear us down, if we gave them the chance. They’d easily recall our words and actions in relation to current events and issues when they thought we weren’t following it ourselves – and launch a full assault in the form of “teen-lawyer” debate.
Being a parent is hard work! Being a good parent is even harder. Being a good Catholic parent in today’s world who consistently and perfectly upholds our Catholic principles – this can be long-lasting exhaustion! But it is so needed! Consider this argument when discussing current events: “So why does a serial killer who tortured people have to have the most painless death possible, or not be killed at all, but a born child is left to die of neglect because he or she was supposed to be aborted?” While their logic can go in circles, there can be great clarity that flows from them as well!
A saving grace for me has been the consistency of our Catholic teachings. When inconsistencies seemed present, we had teachable moments by digging into the underlying principles - to discover the fullness of each and how they were reconciled. There were fewer debates when my boys learned that it wouldn’t end with a one-minute exchange! The Catholic faith is more of a “both-and” faith, rather than “either-or.” There are principles and individual circumstances. Circumstances impact how a principle applies, but does not change the principle and does not change whether the “evil or good” inherent in some actions. Killing is an evil. Killing someone attacking us can be a necessary evil – still an evil act, but our culpability is mediated because we weren’t given much choice.
Follow the logic to the end!
Or you might become known as just noise!
That was my line-of-defense as they grew older. “Your point looks valid – now follow it to the end.” And thus they could arrive at the question above regarding the death penalty and abortion survivors.
Too much work it might seem – but when someone’s physical life and eternal soul are in the balance, stopping at a ten-second sound-bite is an insult at best. If your children want to debate on a principle – and it is not a “Because I said so!” situation, hear their thoughts and discuss right-wrong. Keep the Catechism of the Catholic Church handy (accessible online!) and find solid Catholic apologetic (defense of faith) sources (MANY internet options like catholic.com). And always pray, pray, pray to develop a relationship with God that lets you hear Him and that strengthens you to heed Him.
Hug your children tight, remind them that God is real and loves them intensely, and encourage them to seek His Wisdom!
-- Linda Bader, Coordinator of Religious Education
P.S. Did you know... St. Francis de Sales was blessed to receive a good education in the late 1500's and overcame his father's objections to become a priest and eventually became an archdeacon. He shared his blessings as an ordained, bringing the Good News to people, personally assisting the poor,ministering to the sick, bringing the sacraments to the faithful, and starting organizations to aid those in need and those who wanted to become consecrated to God but had obstacles to joining other religious orders.