By the time this paper hits your hands, I will (hopefully) be holding my newborn child…or catching some sleep—I hear it’s hard to come by with newborns.
Obviously, the joys (and challenges) of parenthood have been fresh on my mind. While I feel extremely blessed that God has entrusted my wife and me with a human life, a bit of fear and lots of questions still remain. How do I raise faithful and virtuous children? How do I raise motivated children? How do I help my children fall in love with their Catholic faith as I have?
Of course, there’s no need to fear; thankfully, God’s consolation and guidance is always available, through the peace of prayer, as we embark on any new or uncertain journey in our lives. In fact, we can always turn to Christ and the Catholic Church for answers to the tough questions.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a presentation by well-known Catholic chastity speaker
as part of Catholic Schools Week where he tackled some of the toughest questions parents face: How do I teach my kids about sexuality? How do I raise pure teens?
While the Church’s teachings on sex and chastity are challenging and oftentimes in direct opposition to values promoted in our secular culture, Evert was able to clearly share them and reflect the Church’s valuable advice to parents in this sometimes harrowing topic area.
Here are Evert’s suggestions for raising pure teens:
Pray for them (and with them)
Go to confession once a month as a family and offer up “fasts” for our kids in conjunction with our prayers (water instead of coffee, etc).
Set the standard high and make the standard clear
The standard must be abstinence until marriage, NOT, “I want you to wait, but if you’re going to do it, at least use a condom/go on the pill.” We don’t tell our kids, “Don’t play in traffic, but if you do, wear a helmet.” We must show our kids that we believe they can achieve the standard.
Be a parent first and not a buddy
This gives our teenagers a useful excuse if they’re being pressured to do stupid things. (“My dad would kill me…!”)
Determine at what age you believe your children should start dating
Keep this in mind: What is the purpose of dating? To find a spouse. If someone’s not worth marrying, they’re not worth dating.
Form a parenting network
It’s helpful when our kids have friends whose parents have the same values as us. Not to mention, a parenting network keeps more eyes on our kids’ activities and being around good parents gives us good ideas.
Take Internet and media safety seriously
Pornography is everywhere. Put the computer in a high-traffic area of the house, use accountability software like covenanteyes.com (which protects the entire family) and have “cell-phone curfews.”
Keep communication open by asking the right questions
Simply asking kids the right questions about their own thoughts or actions can be more powerful than morality speeches.
Don’t just give them “The Talk” once; give them thousands of “talks”
Do we give our kids one English lesson to last them their whole life? Always find different ways to teach them about chastity and principles of delayed gratification, even when they’re little! (Read young kids “The Princess and the Kiss,” do a Google search for Evert’s products/resources.)
Get over our own insecurities
Our past is our business. But if we’ve made mistakes and repented, we can consider using those experiences to help our kids avoid making the same mistakes.
Demonstrate virtue in our own lives
Virtues are more easily “caught” than they are “taught.” How can I expect my children to accept the Church’s teachings on sex outside of marriage if I don’t accept the Church’s teachings on sex within marriage? Explore Natural Family Planning.
Another note worth sharing: We must praise our kids…at least twice as many times as we criticize them (even if we have twice as many valid reasons to criticize them). “Negative humor is from the pits of hell—leave it there,” Evert said.