What children hear is impressed as a seal on the wax of their minds. Besides, it is then that their life begins to incline to vice or virtue; and if from the very gates and portals one lead them away from inquity, and guide them by the hand to the best road, he will fix for them for the time to come in a sort of habit and nature, and they will not, even if they be willing, easily change for the worse, since this force of custom draws them to the performance of good actions. So that we shall see them become more worthy of respect than those who have grown old, and they will be more useful in civil matters, displaying in youth the qualities of the aged.Saint John Chrysostom
If you’re getting tired of these quotes from my good friend John let me know, but I never tire of them. His homilies are full of great topical material to expand upon.
When my wife and I first moved into our new home the estate had only been erected. In addition to this, she had only been a few months diagnosed with cancer being pregnant with our second son. Some years had passed by and Joseph had become of age. We allowed a young kid of similar age in from the street to play with him. Sitting on the floor they played this little game where you aim to put the correctly shaped brick into the box.
The little kid couldn’t play the game properly. In his frustration, he began shouting, “fuck it. . .fuck it. . .argh. . . fuck it.” He said it so many times I, unfortunately, had to politely send him home without giving a further reason for him being only a toddler how could I? Needless to say, it took years to stop my son from saying, “fuck it” that is how quickly he picked it up.
We must be careful as parents what we say and do in the home for it shapes the minds of our children. If they grow up in a calm and peaceful environment where few arguments take place, they will naturally absorb this persona bringing it to the secular forum when they’re older. The same is true of those who speak inappropriate language at will in the household. In many cases the parents they’re learning it from are not evil people, just suffering from a bad tick themselves the victim of see-monkey-do behaviour.
We are called to love everyone, sure, but that doesn’t mean befriending them or having your children mix with theirs for the false idea you’re called to mix with sinners. Saint Paul says, “Bad friends ruin the noblest people”. Parents often forget that these children are entrusted to them by the Lord to guard their hearts against a dangerous world and to bring them up in the Christian faith.
Therefore, if the quality of the innocent children on the street is poor, find another way for them to interact with others on the same path to salvation. This is not to say they should avoid the entire world altogether, for that would be impossible. It’s important they experience some sort of interaction with the ungodly only keep it minimal. Also, be careful you do not mix them with rigid traditionalist (fundamentalist let’s be honest) Christian parents. They can be a nightmare to deal with and I’d much rather mix my littles ones with the ungodly heathen than those consumed by spiritual delusions and pride.
There are Christian parents who are too hard on their children. I’ve met them and some are even mentally messed up in the head and are control freaks. They declare that in their house there will be no Christmas, no Santa Claus, no T.V and no Xbox. These types of extremists are not evil. but do not know what it is that lurks in the shadows inspiring them to alienate their children from the culture around them.
Make sure your children are allowed to interact with the modern world around them. They’re not called to be hermits but to bring the light of Christ to the world. They cannot do this if they’re outwardly removed from that society having nothing in common with the culture around them. In this way, you guard them against Satan whose desire it is to alienate them from the faith, not the world. That is only an outward show. For when their babes grow older, such strict parents run the risk of having their children leave the Church.
Either that or they’ll be of no use to anyone around them not having anything in common with their peers. Christ calls us to be inwardly a Christian not outwardly. Therefore hang up your ugly 18th-century dresses and dress modern but modestly. Let your sons have those trendy haircuts and get them the latest PlayStation available (according to your means). In doing this you will be preparing them for interaction with the world where the inward holiness they’ve acquired will be of more use to them and to those heathen they’ll be communing with.
Believe me, as an ex heathen myself, had you approached me in your long medieval dress and persona I would have run a mile. Who wants to belong to a Church or hang around with someone who doesn’t know how to have a beer and be jolly? What child wants to hang around a kid who watches only Christian movies and has never experienced the thrill of Star wars and how to use a lightsaber? Not mine.
The parents are always miserable all the time. Look at them! Always to be seen walking with their heads down and afraid to be a part of the modern world. Whining and moaning about their sins as if they’re Saints already. Such parents may be dressed for a medieval banquet but certainly not that of the Lords where their outward show will not be recognized.
What I’m trying to get across is that you can put your children on the right road without being so extreme. The Lord wants religious fruits, not nuts. The parents who deny their children T.V and an entire childhood are indulging themselves. It’s about them not Christ and they’re spiritually deluded fools. Such people think they’re bringing their children closer to God when in fact they’re behaving like the apostles who drove them away from the Lord. Control freaks is all they are obsessed with the intellectual side of the faith imposing such Christian extremism on their kids. No no, do not let your children form friendships with the heathen but much less these types of Christian parents. Let the children be children.
Always aim for good theology and balance in your relationship with Christ. In doing this your kids will experience the same. Remember, you’re not always going to be able to guard them against the evil world and that’s not always a bad thing. It would be dangerous to completely shield them from every evil. When they experience evil it gives them the ability to see the contrast between light and darkness. It affords them the capacity to discern between what is spiritually good for their souls and harmful.
I don’t know how parents get like this. I think it’s because they’re being exposed to too much monastic material. Monastics are on a road to spiritual perfection that differs greatly to the marital vocation of bringing up children. Some mistakenly think that monastics are good choices for spiritual directors. They are usually not and their spiritual direction can do more harm to parents than good because the advice they give conflicts with the vocation the parent has. Therefore it’s a good idea to seek out spiritual counsel from a spiritual master who has experience not only of the monastic world but that of the world too. This type of man will be able to guide you from the pitfalls Satan lays out for everyone on the path towards salvation.
Strike a nice balance with your children and in this way, their growth in the faith will be steady. Then guard their little minds and who they make friends with. Stand watch at the golden gates of their innocent minds and don’t allow the filth to get in. However, don’t take it to the extreme. While the devil sits on the extreme of liberalism, he likewise awaits you on the other more severe strict right-wing where he will get your kids too. Choose the in-between for there it is that Christ walks, on the narrow middle path that leads to Salvation.
If you think children who imitate their heathen parents are something to be sorrowful at, don’t forget to include those spiritually deluded Christian parents either. The devil is clever. He is wily and his tricks are tenfold. He does not want that child of yours to grow in the faith and become an outstanding member of society. With heathen parents, he doesn’t wait and attacks at will, but with Christian parents, he will plant suggestions that appear holy and then wait for the year to come when the child grows and leaves the faith. The devil’s whispers, “Take away their T.V. Leave this place and go live on an island as a cloister of Catholic families. Get away from the culture, make a statement and put them in old 19th-century clothing. Take from them their Playstation for it’s all the devil. . . all of it.”
These are the whisperings of the Devil. To Adam and Eve, such whisperings appeared Holy but brought only death in the end. The same will be for your children if you do not bring them up properly in the faith, shielding them from the doctrines of the world and that of rigidity in the faith. Get them into the habit of being good and balanced little Christians. From this force of habit, they will, as St.John nicely puts it, end up “displaying in youth the qualities of the aged.”