Stepping Up As Parents to Be Kids' Primary Educators
Families together in a whole new way may revel understandings taught your children that are counter to our Catholic faith.
Think about the hours of exposure your kids have to moral and formative teaching from others outside the Catholic Church. Public school system? 8 hours a day. Shows and movies and social media and video games and books? 4-8 hours a day by some measures. How many hours do you talk with them about faith and morals in a given day? A given week?
Now, all of a sudden, families are thrown together close to full time, and conversations about when life begins, how many genders there are, climate change, just be you, and you can be anything may collide with a new awareness in parent's minds that what their kids understand is different than Truth. It may be time to step up as your children's primary educators.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church lays out the right and responsibility of parents to educate their children this way:
The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. “The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.” The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.
—Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶2221.
“Just be you” vs. “You be just”
Streaming entertainment is popular as people seek to relieve boredom of being at home. Yet much of that content spreads the belief system of the heresy of personal “truth,” in which a person is only limited by who they imagine themselves to be and how stubbornly they proclaim it against all nay sayers. Put simply, the cultural phrase is, “just be you;” the Catholic response is, “you be just.”
The idea of the heresy of personal “truth” is that there is no truth higher than personal truth. What is personal truth? Whatever you want it to be. Whatever your heart desires. Or, in our Catholic understanding, whatever our inner sinner dupes us into thinking we desire. Personal “truth” is a denial of God, of actual truth, and actually proves itself false by imposing a truth higher than personal truth (itself).
Enter justice: right relationship between God, self, others, and nature. These four aspects of justice, also known as right relationship, love, and mercy, are revealed in Genesis in the description of the Garden of Eden. God makes us as who we are, life is a sacred gift, we have an eternal soul, and we don't get to choose who God makes us to be; we do get to choose what we will do with our life, and those choices will lead either to eternal death or eternal life.
No screens except when we watch and discuss as a family
Try this radical step: No screens except what we watch and discuss as a family. Pick whatever shows or movies you desire, but discuss this simple question: if the characters had lived morally, upholding the seven heavenly virtues instead of falling for the seven deadly sins, how would the story have been different?
Heavenly Virtue v. Deadly Sin
Every deadly sin has a heavenly virtue, that willfully chosen, defeats the sin every time. But to willfully choose virtue requires faith, for we humans are unable to choose God's will over our fallen will on our own. Here's the guide:
- Pride (vanity) – Humility vanquishes Pride (selfishness)
- Chastity vanquishes Lust
- Temperance (self restraint) vanquishes Gluttony
- Charity vanquishes Greed
- Diligence, perseverance vanquishes Sloth
- Forgiveness, composure vanquishes Wrath, anger
- Kindness, admiration vanquishes Envy, jealousy
If, as you talk these virtues and sins over, you begin to wonder a few things, the Saints through the ages have revealed that:
- Each virtue contains all others, so if you get really good at one, you become really good at them all.
- Humility is the gateway virtue, the ironically greatest of all virtues, the precursor to each virtue, for without humility, none of the others is possible.
- Similarly, pride is the gateway sin, and all sin is willful, prideful defiance against God.
Bonus round conversation: What is Church Teaching on this anyway?
What is Church teaching on a given topic or idea in the show or movie? For example, characters engage in sex outside of marriage. Gay marriage is often presented as normal, and anything short of celebrating this is hate. Murder is celebrated, sociopathy viewed as neutral instead of an evil. Various and sundry moral dilemmas that are the fodder of drama. What is Church teaching on these topics and why? The Catholic Catechism is a great place to start if you aren't sure. Ask your priest or deacon as well. And...
Prayerfully consider starting or joining a Halo in your parish.
The time will fly by and you will begin growing new muscles as a parent, that you didn't even know you needed. Grin.
May God startle you with joy!
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