I have no illusions that today’s popular culture is in line with the orthodox Catholic culture I try to create for my family. However, some days I really feel like I have entered an alien universe. I found myself in a waiting room yesterday morning. I hadn’t really planned for much of a wait so I was without my own reading material. I picked up the latest issue of Redbook and perused a few pages. I had read Redbook on a more regular basis during my college years, but my interests took me in other directions as I got older. Returning to it now I was greeted with the latest installment of a series entitled Sex and the Single Mom by Emily Listfield. This month’s issue details how Ms. Listfield can’t wait to send her thirteen-year-old daughter off to camp for a month so she can enjoy a month of sexual pleasures without worrying about being discreet around her daughter. Never mind that she doesn’t have a husband or even a steady boyfriend. This is going to be a month of uninhibited lusty adventures. Well, the month doesn’t turn out exactly as planned, though not for her lack of trying. Am I really supposed to find this entertaining? As a modern American woman am I supposed to relate to this? I thought feminism was supposed to liberate women from being sex objects. Yet here we have one of the radical feminist magazines celebrating a woman who defines herself by her sexual prowess.
Then I left the waiting room and went in for my appointment. The woman who was helping me began to chat about her only child. He is soon to be five. She laughed about how this little tyke was always calling her “dumb-head” or “rude-head” or “meanie” when she told him to do something. Isn’t it amazing how they pick up these things from older children? Of course she doesn’t tell him it is wrong to call his mother these names. Highlighting something as negative just makes him want to do it more. She just lets the names go without comment and figures he will quit using them if she doesn’t make a big deal about it. Am I that far removed from raising pre-schoolers that I don’t understand this parenting style? I think the child will more likely continue this pattern of disrespect because his mother’s silence means consent. Do today’s young parents really believe that bad behavior will extinguish itself without correction? Our labeling of something as bad is what perpetuates a child’s inappropriate behavior?
Most (but not all) of the parents I interact with through soccer teams, school, Boy Scouts, or church activities are closer to my own image of parenting than those I encountered yesterday morning. Yesterday’s experiences were stark reminders of the broad spectrum of parenting styles that are shaping our culture’s next generation. I will do what I can within my own little domestic church to influence this culture. I hope this blog helps others build up their own domestic churches. I really encourage anyone who might be interested to take a look at the series of posts, Keeping your Kids Catholic, linked on the left sidebar. This book by Bert Ghezzi has been a huge help to me over the last twenty years. Finally, we all need to get to our knees and pray. Place all families under the patronage of the Holy Family. The health and holiness of our families will determine the health and holiness of our society.