Many men are drawn to the God Squad conferences because they are Dads and want help and advice in raising children in today’s environment. Our youth today are faced with a very different world than many of us grew up in. The technology and expectations are very different; the world is a much smaller place and everyone knows what is going on.
I have been working with youth at risk and it seems that there is always a crisis or drama happening. These crises or dramas are perpetuated by texting and chatting on social networks. There are fights and threats of fights over every little issue. None of the young men want to be punks, so they will never back down or ignore a sleight. Then they need 5 friends to watch their back as they won’t stand on their own when they show up for the fight. The rules of fighting have changed from meeting face to face in the school yard after school to today where the young person tries to jump their prey when they can out number their opponent.
Where is all of this coming from? This is my opinion and not scientific research: In the media for several years there has been an onslaught of reality television shows. The only thing that keeps them on TV is if they can top the next show with more trash talk and drama. The problem is that our youth think this is the way life should be lived. We used to watch drama for entertainment but our kids think they need to be part of it.
I am a father and I will tell you some of things that happen or don’t happen in my house and how they may be helpful. These may seem over the edge to some, but they have been working for me as I have 3 grown children out of the house who made it through the teen years with their faith, integrity and purity intact. First of all, expose your children to the beauty of our Catholic faith in their terms; youth groups, conferences, camps etc. I don’t allow the majority of the reality shows to be watched and definitely no adult themed ones (my wife likes watching about needy families getting new houses). These are the reason our young people think they need to always have drama in their lives. I have even cancelled the cable at different times as it is not a right but a privilege (this is hard for the parents, as watching the Flames or Stamps must be given up). There are no cellphones allowed until they become a necessity and/or the child is 18 and can afford the payments on their own. If the kids are responsible enough to be on a social network, we, as parents, are friends to oversee what is happening. Finally, there is no dating until they are 18 and hopefully they have a better understanding of what the church’s teachings are in this area.
Parents, you need to live the example. If there is a personal issue in your life or relationships, don’t display the drama in front of the children. They do not need front row seats for your domestics or hearing about what’s going on with the Jones’s. Do show them the example of what a loving couple /family does on a daily basis. Listen to your children and try and help them navigate through today’s society. Love them unconditionally. Teach them to talk to God who can help them in their darkest times.