But when I do, they’re good ones.
After Sandy Hook, I posted on here about how the common factors in most of these mass shooters (and most serial killers) are:
anti-Christian rhetoric in the media + violent movies and video games + mental health problems + “dabbling” (to say the least) in occultism.
I called on parents, as I have done many times, to be more careful in censoring what their children are exposed to, and I quoted, yet again, the St. Pio story about the couple who were worried about their children in prison, and he refused to bless them because their children were in prison because of their own permissiveness.
To this, a liberal lady who’s been a frequent commentor here of late (but seems to have disappeared after telling me I was “full of myself), insisted there is *nothing* that “poor people” can do about these problems but pray until “rich people” produce media content that is wholesome (or, adding to the theme of the cartoon, clothes that are modest?)
What do you do as a homeschooling parent when you try to teach your kids modesty, and the DRE or Youth group leader (not singling anyone out in particular: my parish has wonderful people in both jobs, and I’m truly abstracting a friend’s story) sends her kids to Church on Sunday wearing prostitute outfits? I was once at Adoration in an incredibly conservative parish, and saw a mother come in with her three daughters: they were all wearing mantillas, but one of the girls was wearing short-shorts and a tube top!
There’s something between dressing like a Muslim and dressing like a slut.
Parents: Guess what? You can say “no.” It’s your job. In fact, you know what? If you don’t just say no but *explain* why you’re saying no, you’ll teach them a valuable lesson, and they’ll start to respect you for it, and understand the values you’re trying to teach.
Overly draconian parents? There’s something to be said to raising one’s kids the way St. Therese of Lisieux was raised, since St. Teresa of Avila attributes her mother telling her fairy tales to why she took over 40 years to get right with God. However, beware that you may be raising kids who are unprepared to face the world’s temptations or who may be chomping at the bit to rebel. A “yes” or “maybe” now and then goes a long way to backing up the “no” when it’s important–and, yes, it can be a gray line sometimes, especially in areas where the parents have slightly different views.
Another problem that plagues our society is the absurd notion, so popularized in movies, that parents who committed certain sins in their youth are hypocrites for expecting better behavior of their own kids. Father in movie: “I don’t want you going to that party; there will be drinking.” Kid: “Dad, I’m 18!” Mother: “You went out drinking when you were *16*.” Dad: “OK, you can go.”
Indeed, one thing that *totally* perplexes me is “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” paradoxes like this. “What business does some celibate priest have talking about sexual morality? What does he know?” Yes, what does a guy who’s living (hopefully) in celibate chastity know about how to live in celibate chastity? What business does an Olympic athlete have telling people not to be couch potatoes?
But, if a person *does* have “experience,” they’re a hypocrite. “You did it, too, so you don’t have any business talking about it.” In that case, we have a person who did it, found out the deleterious consequences of the action, and at some point repented, and now that person wants to save the younger person the dangers of falling into it. That is not hypocrisy. That’s valuable life experience. In this case, it’s the winner of “Biggest Loser” telling people why it’s bad to be a couch potato.
And when it comes to parents, even if they’re still stuck in the bad habit, that’s still valuable experience the children should take to heart in *not* falling into it to begin with.
The other day, I was talking to my wife and eldest daughter about a project I’m working on, regarding _Les Miserables_ and how Catholics from traditionalists to liberals think it’s a great work even though it was once on the Index. I said how in my research I haven’t been able to turn up an exact reason, and that one would have to dig through the Vatican Archives to find out. “Probably Fantine,” my 11 year old daughter said.
I took her and her 8 year old sister to see the movie the day after it came out–and was shocked that it was a bit more graphic than I expected–because they have become big fans, like their parents, having heard the soundtrack so many times and having watched the 10th and 25th Anniversary concerts with me several times.
However, there’s a lot of stuff we *don’t* let them see, watch, or listen to, and it doesn’t always even have to do with the moral content. It may just be that I feel the aesthetics are too postmodernist, Masonic or otherwise subversive.
Last year, when they were in Catholic school, our now 8 year old had trouble getting along with her peers, most of whom seemed like great kids to us, except for one kid (whom I later learned is just as “sheltered” by his mom as my kids are). When Thanksgiving or Christmas break was starting, I was taking them to the mall one afternoon, and my daughter started talking about how the kids in her class were playing “vampires versus werewolves” all the time at recess, and she didn’t know what to do (I suggested she bring a large crucifix and a bottle of holy water with her to school on recess day and use them). I thought I had given my children enough “secular” exposure by letting them watch the old cartoons I grew up on on DVD & Boomerang, then sent them to *Catholic* school to deal with second graders who were into _Twilight_!
This is how perverse and saturated with filth our society is, and parents really need to be diligent about the spiritual well-being of our children!
Anyway, the point I’m making is that yes, our kids don’t often fit in with “peer groups,” though as the late Carrol O’Connor said in his activism following his son’s death from drugs, “The *last* thing you want is for your kid to get involved in peer groups.” We’ve taught them that friendships are important–real friendships based upon common values. They have friends, and they have social lives through our homeschool friends and different church groups, but we’ve taught them they don’t have to indiscriminately “friends” with and fully “accepted” by everyone–just polite and respectful. So they don’t have to feel bad if they don’t fit in because the other kids are into things they know are wrong (though we encourage them to try and redirect the other kids’ interests). They don’t have to feel bad if the other kids at Catholic school make fun of them for dressing up as saints for All Saints Eve (aka Halloween).
1000 years from now, it isn’t going to matter if your kid was “popular” in elementary school or high school. It isn’t going to matter what kind of grades they got, or what kind of job they had, or how much money they saved for retirement, or whatever. 1000 years from now, the only thing that will matter is what C. S. Lewis says in his famous “Weight of Glory”:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
Or, as Leon Bloy famously said, popularized by Jacques Maritain, “There is only one tragedy: not to be a saint.”
In the end, that’s all that matters. That is our primary duty and obligation as parents: to do everything we can to help our children become saints.
If we fail at that, we fail at everything.