Easter night I was tucking my boys in, and we were having a discussion about Easter, comparing it to Christmas, and I was making the point that though Christmas has more decorations and gifts, Easter is still the most important Holiday of the year. One of them summed up the discussion with the question:
“Why isn’t New Year’s at Easter?”
If you needed more reasons to keep violent video games out of your home, here it is. New research shows a clear connection between playing violent video games and a lack of moral development in teens.
What struck me most about this particular article was not the confirmation of the obvious – that video games are bad for kids – but one throwaway comment by the author of the study.
Bajovic concedes that “prohibiting adolescents from playing violent video games is not realistic.”
The notion that it’s unrealistic for parents to prohibit destructive behavior in their teens is self-evident to a Science Daily journalist and accepted by a researcher in teen behavior. It’s a pretty common delusion. I know parents of 2nd graders who can’t say no when their kids ask for a smartphone. I have had other parents tell me to just send my kids to public school. You can’t keep them from being exposed to that stuff anyway, right?
It’s so wrong-headed it makes me want to hit my head against the wall. Our kids don’t have to play video games. They don’t have to be sexually active. They don’t have to try alcohol as a minor.
As parents, we must have a firm loving hand. We need to show strong moral leadership. We have to keep them away from bad influences and surround them with positive.
It’s a ton of work, it requires sacrifice, and there are no guarantees. Our children are humans with free will, after all. But that doesn’t mean it’s useless to try. Car seats and seat belts aren’t guaranteed either, but we’d never consider not using them.
Be strong and protect your kids while you can. They’ll enter the big bad world soon enough.
Posted in Children, Culture, Daily Life, Passing on the Faith
Tagged child rearing, children, Faith, kids, morals, parenting, teens, video games
Today our six-year-old son Elijah earned his Prayer Warrior trophy. He’s been looking forward to this moment all summer, working hard toward the goal, and today he accomplished it.
What is a Prayer Warrior? When we moved to our new parish, we wanted to instill in our younger kids a more reverent attitude toward Mass and toward daily prayers. Our son Elijah is an accomplishment-oriented child. He loves competing in sports and games, and he loves earning trophies and medals. Even the medals from the summer reading program at the library are special to him. We thought that a trophy would be a suitable motivation for him to learn to really pay attention and participate at Mass, so we set up a Prayer Warrior program, taking advantage of the fact that the whole “spiritual warfare” concept would be appealing to a six-year-old boy.
We set up on the refrigerator a paper with ten blocks. Each day, if he paid attention and prayed out loud during our nightly prayers, he would get a star in the block for that week. Then on Sunday, if he had achieved six stars, and if he did a good job of sitting still and paying attention at Mass, he would earn a sticker for the block. As the weeks progressed, our expectations for his behavior at Mass and during prayers increased gradually. He knew that once he received ten stickers, we would send away for his Prayer Warrior trophy.
He did a great job, and his behavior at Mass has been transformed. It was never particularly bad behavior, not distracting to those around us, but he fidgeted and didn’t really pay attention as well as he should. Now he sits like an angel, faces forward, and participates as well as he can. It is inspiring our four-year-old as well, who can’t wait until she is old enough to be eligible for the Prayer Warrior program.
We’re thinking about extending his Prayer Warrior program further. Perhaps having medals akin to those achieved in Boy Scouts, perhaps having an “advanced level” trophy. He could achieve these levels through memorization of prayers, regular reading and/or memorization of scripture, saying the rosary on his own, and so forth. The biggest benefit is that he sees that prayer life is important to us, both our own prayer life and his prayer life. These little motivations help to instill a sense of that importance within him.
It was really easy to put together the “program”. All it took was a quick printout formatted in MSWord, and a trip to the local trophy shop for a $4 trophy. But it will be something that he remembers for a very long time.
My eldest daughter is preparing for confirmation. It’s an exciting time – the first in our home since mine some twenty years ago. We are starting to have more intense discussions about the faith, and I find myself wanting to be a bigger part of her preparation. It would be easy to leave it to her and her Catholic school. They would do a good and complete job, but I think my involvement can make a big difference as to how strong her faith is at the other side.
Why? A few reasons.
First, I provide a different perspective and different life experiences that can help her to dig deep into complex topics.
Second, I know her and how she thinks. That will help me to explain things in a way that she can see even more of the truth.
Third, every time she sees me living my faith, studying my faith, interested in my faith, it reinforces that all this is not just lip service. It’s real and it’s serious, and people like me build their lives on it. Hopefully she will realize she needs to the same.
So over the next several weeks, I am going to be making some simple posts about simple truths that every Catholic should know. And based on my experience and that of others I know, most people will not know these things.
I’ll be writing these as lists. Lists can be memorized. Memorization, which was heavily denigrated when I was in college, is, I think, an essential element in learning a complex subject. It puts a key set of data at your beck and call. Once it is there, you can use those fact as the foundation for deeper learning.
So, soon I will start with the basics: the precepts of the Church.
The 21st century, with the Internet, cell phones, gay marriage, condoms in public schools, and a 50% divorce rate, poses unique challenges to parents. We want to protect our children from predators, from themselves, and from the moral corruption that is running rampant in our society. This requires a radical response from parents. Anything less puts our kids at risk of following the world’s way of life and not God’s. Here are some radical tips to put into practice that radical response.
- Don’t let your kids on Facebook, MySpace, or other social networking sites. There is nothing positive to be gained from a child or teen being on those sites, and there are so many ways they can be hurt.
- Just pull the plug on cable TV. It sucks money, time, and vitality from the family. There is little of value on cable TV and much that is dangerous. Do our kids really need to see who’s sleeping with who on Jersey Shore or the Real World? Do they really need to know about the glorified life of Teen Mom?
- Don’t allow video games into the house. As with cable TV, video games are, at best, a colossal waste of time. Time that could be spent in reading, music, hobbies, or sports.
- Keep the computers and phones out of the bedrooms. The internet is one giant near occasion of sin for everyone, especially teenagers. Even the “good kids” can be tempted by porn that is one click away. Keep the computer in an open, highly trafficked area, and monitor its use religiously,
- Kid’s don’t need cell phones. Well, not all the time. If there is a legitimate need – such as for calling home when an after school or weekend activity is finished, then get them a simple no frills phone and let them use it during those times. The rest of the time, it is back in the parents’ possession. Texting, sexting, and camera phones are another huge opportunity for sin.
- Pray together as a family. Morning prayers, evening prayers, and grace before meals. That’s a minimum. From there, move on to the family rosary.
- Eat dinner together as a family. Turn the cell phones off. Turn the TV off. Pray, eat, and talk. You will be surprised what you learn and how much you enjoy it.
- Go to Mass together. Don’t divide and conquer; replan those weekend activities around the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Nothing is more important.
- Father’s, bless your children before bed. You are a priest in the domestic church. Your blessing counts.
- Fill your children’s lives with good things so there is no room for bad. Kids who are at ballet lessons aren’t out with questionable friends, getting into trouble, and they aren’t sneaking onto internet sites better left un-surfed.
- Start Family Fun Night and don’t miss it. Give your kids a reason to want to be home with you. Make them feel they will be missing out if they spend Friday or Saturday night with their friends.
None of these steps should be radical, but our culture makes them that way. Our lustful, gluttonous, voracious culture tells our kids they must have everything, especially freedom they aren’t ready for yet. It is our job as parents to put our foot down on the brake and stop the insanity.
Posted in Children, Culture, Daily Life, Family Time, Passing on the Faith
Tagged catholic, childraising, christian, kids, morality, parenting, tips