The following is some good advice for parents:
- Make the most of our time together. My son and I have been having great conversations on the way to lacrosse practice and when we throw the football in our front yard. The important thing is to maximize every minute with our children as opportunities to share and guide them to good decisions in life. Making family dinner time a priority is one way to help make this happen. Know that efforts to get our attention are often potential cries for help. They need us, but are we available?
- Listen before lecturing. This is difficult for me! The fastest way to have my son clam up is for me to cut him off with a “coaching moment.” I can coach later, but I need to hear him out first and encourage him to share his thoughts.
- Be great Catholic role models. It doesn’t get more basic than this, but do we realize how often our children are watching our every move? They will love God, be excited about Mass and have devotion to our Catholic faith if we do. They will likely pray faithfully if we do. They will be more likely to grow up following the Magisterium and staying out of the “Catholic cafeteria line” if we do.
- Honor the Sacrament of marriage. Want to see our children get married and start great families some day? Love our spouses and model the kind of marriage we want them to enjoy. Show open affection, say “I love you” and make sure the kids know how much we honor and respect the person we have married. We are dooming our kids to a marriageless future or possible divorce if they grow up in a home where the Sacrament of marriage is not treasured and valued.
- Tune out popular culture and “detach.” Guess what? If we are obsessed with American Idol, buying junk we don’t need and trying to keep up with the neighbors, our kids are likely to emulate our behavior. I am beginning to feel that every minute spent in front of the TV or the computer is wasted time and a missed opportunity to interact with the family. This may be the hardest thing on the list, but we can do a better job with our time and focus.