Little Way of the Family


Violent Video Games Delay Development of Moral Judgement in Teens

If you needed more reasons to keep violent video games out of your home, here it is. New research shows a clear connection between playing violent video games and a lack of moral development in teens.

What struck me most about this particular article was not the confirmation of the obvious – that video games are bad for kids – but one throwaway comment by the author of the study.

Bajovic concedes that “prohibiting adolescents from playing violent video games is not realistic.”

The notion that it’s unrealistic for parents to prohibit destructive behavior in their teens is self-evident to a Science Daily journalist and accepted by a researcher in teen behavior. It’s a pretty common delusion. I know parents of 2nd graders who can’t say no when their kids ask for a smartphone. I have had other parents tell me to just send my kids to public school. You can’t keep them from being exposed to that stuff anyway, right?

It’s so wrong-headed it makes me want to hit my head against the wall. Our kids don’t have to play video games. They don’t have to be sexually active. They don’t have to try alcohol as a minor.

As parents, we must have a firm loving hand. We need to show strong moral leadership. We have to keep them away from bad influences and surround them with positive.

It’s a ton of work, it requires sacrifice, and there are no guarantees. Our children are humans with free will, after all. But that doesn’t mean it’s useless to try. Car seats and seat belts aren’t guaranteed either, but we’d never consider not using them.

Be strong and protect your kids while you can. They’ll enter the big bad world soon enough.



Teach Your Child to be a Prayer Warrior!`

Today our six-year-old son Elijah earned his Prayer Warrior trophy. He’s been looking forward to this moment all summer, working hard toward the goal, and today he accomplished it.
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What is a Prayer Warrior? When we moved to our new parish, we wanted to instill in our younger kids a more reverent attitude toward Mass and toward daily prayers. Our son Elijah is an accomplishment-oriented child. He loves competing in sports and games, and he loves earning trophies and medals. Even the medals from the summer reading program at the library are special to him. We thought that a trophy would be a suitable motivation for him to learn to really pay attention and participate at Mass, so we set up a Prayer Warrior program, taking advantage of the fact that the whole “spiritual warfare” concept would be appealing to a six-year-old boy.

We set up on the refrigerator a paper with ten blocks. Each day, if he paid attention and prayed out loud during our nightly prayers, he would get a star in the block for that week. Then on Sunday, if he had achieved six stars, and if he did a good job of sitting still and paying attention at Mass, he would earn a sticker for the block. As the weeks progressed, our expectations for his behavior at Mass and during prayers increased gradually. He knew that once he received ten stickers, we would send away for his Prayer Warrior trophy.

He did a great job, and his behavior at Mass has been transformed. It was never particularly bad behavior, not distracting to those around us, but he fidgeted and didn’t really pay attention as well as he should. Now he sits like an angel, faces forward, and participates as well as he can. It is inspiring our four-year-old as well, who can’t wait until she is old enough to be eligible for the Prayer Warrior program.

We’re thinking about extending his Prayer Warrior program further. Perhaps having medals akin to those achieved in Boy Scouts, perhaps having an “advanced level” trophy. He could achieve these levels through memorization of prayers, regular reading and/or memorization of scripture, saying the rosary on his own, and so forth. The biggest benefit is that he sees that prayer life is important to us, both our own prayer life and his prayer life. These little motivations help to instill a sense of that importance within him.

It was really easy to put together the “program”. All it took was a quick printout formatted in MSWord, and a trip to the local trophy shop for a $4 trophy. But it will be something that he remembers for a very long time.



Sitting on the Lap of the Father
February 17, 2012, 1:53 pm
Filed under: Children, Daily Life | Tags: , , ,

This morning, in the pre-dawn, as I prepared to go to work, I found my 4-year-old tugging at my pant leg. They had the day off school, so the rest of the kids were still asleep. Mom was downstairs studying.

“What do you need?” I asked.

No answer.

“Did you have a nightmare? Do you need a drink of water?”

He just should his head and mumbled sleepily.

I paused for a moment. I needed to go to work. I considered ushering him back to bed and getting on with the task at hand.

“Do you need to sit on my lap?”

He nodded silently. I sat and gathered him up and onto my lap. We just sat
silently. I held him and enjoyed his presence, happy that I had grasped the opportunity that I so nearly let slip through my fingers. It is so easy to do that as a parent. “Go back to bed.” “Go watch some TV.” “Go outside and play.” “Go leave me alone.”

Our Father in Heaven never says “Go”. He always says “Come”.

“Come sit on my lap.”

Sometimes I need to sit on the lap of the father. I need to enjoy His presence, without asking for anything or complaining about anything.



The “Mom’s Out of Town, Dad’s In Charge” Morning Checklist
January 16, 2012, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

1. Pants on backwards? Check.
2. Socks don’t match? Check.
3. Breakfast of cookies and chocolate bars? Check.
4. Hair brushed? Nope. That’s too hard. Besides, it’ll just get messed up again.
5. 9am field trip to Chuck E. Cheese? Check.
6. All 4 kids accounted for on departure from Chuck E. Cheese? Ummm… wait a minute…
7. 11am field trip to hardware store? Check.
8. Assistance from two-year-old in den painting project? Check. Put that down!
9. Pantry door propped open so two-year-old can get herself a snack while Dad cleans up the spilled paint? Check.
10. Lunch fed? Oops. I knew I was forgetting something.
11. Kids bribed to smile for “we’re having fun” picture to send to Mom? Check.
12. Gone running to Grandma for assistance? Check.
13. Bedtime prayer for Mom to return really soon? Check.



Sharing 9-11 With Our Children
September 11, 2011, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Children, Culture | Tags: , , , ,

Today we toured the U.S.S. Yorktown with our kids, as a way to commemorate 9-11. On our way, we had a chance to not only teach them about the attack, but also to tell them about what we were doing at the time, and how it affected us.
It occurred to me that, especially for our younger kids, 9-11 is history, no less so than World War II is history to me. What I was doing, was passing down oral history to my children.
Oral history is, I think, important for our children. Knowing where there parents and grandparents were during a particular event gives them a context they can’t get at school. It personalizes history and makes it real. The dividing line between entertainment and reality is getting more and more blurred (see, for instance, “Apollo 18”), so anything that can make that line more clear must be valuable.
We have experienced a wealth of history that we can and should share with our kids. I have seen the end of the cold war, the rise and fall of the space shuttle program, the Iranian hostage crisis, the dawn of the PC age and the internet, Chernobyl, Katrina, and so many other events. How many have I shared with my kids?
9-11 is clearly the “where were you when” event of our generatio

n, but it is not the only bit of history we have been a part of to share with our kids.