My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Parents, can your child answer the question, “Who is Noah?” This story, which even many toddlers know should not be foreign to our homes. Children should not shrug their shoulders when asked, “Who is John the Baptist?”
ST. BASIL CHALLENGE
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention “Over the 20-year period from 1990 to 2010, suicide rates in the U.S. dropped, and then rose again. Between 1990 and 2000, the suicide rate decreased from 12.5 suicide deaths to 10.4 per 100,000 people in the population. Over the next 10 years, however, the rate generally increased and by 2011 stood at 12.3 deaths per 100,000.”
The suicide rate for children between the ages of 14-24 is slowly rising. There are many reasons that sociologists will point to: depression, and the most often cited are bullying, social rejection, academic failure, and insecurities.
While this is certainly true, family psychologists and clergy see a very dark pattern growing… Between the explosion of social media, the immediacy of information and communication via phones, and the extreme scheduling of children, children are piling on stress and losing their identity.
They are losing their identity because parents are less models and sources of wisdom, but have become glorified taxi drivers. Gone are the days when 5 nights out of the week, the family would sit down to dinner without any television or distractions. This is the biggest red flag for family therapists. Children that attend 3 or less family dinners have exponentially much higher stress, disassociation with family, and are less socially well adjusted.
Why? Family dinner teaches children to speak, to vocalize their problems and to receive important feedback from their parents and siblings.
If families would commit to the sanctity of family dinner, many problems would decrease socially, but that is not enough for us. We want the best for our children and it is our duty to see them grow not just into great citizens, but powerful Christians. It is our duty to prepare our children to be ready to stand before the Throne of God, to give an account of their faith. But as we see clearly… our children cannot articulate their faith… and they are leaving the Church’s loving embrace.
Children do not need to be enrolled in 3-5 different sports, and band, and choir, and dance, and theater, and club a, and club b, and club c. Worse, it is not the children who want this! It is parents…. Competitive parents who hear from one of their friends, “Lucy is in three activities,” and immediately commit their child Steven into four activities. This is a literal scenario that I heard regarding kindergarteners…. We must stop forcing our children to multi-task more than even the most competent adult can handle.
Therefore, for the sake of your children’s salvation, the highest priority of a parent, I invite you to take the Holy Trinity Challenge.
- First and foremost, commit to spending at least 4 out of 7 nights a week together, eating dinner as a family
-Ask your child what he/she learned in Sunday School.
-Ask your child about his/her day.
-Do not accept monosyllabic answers like “ok,” “good,” or “boring.” Have them elaborate.
- Commit to making Sunday a special day for your family
-How can you concentrate on your child’s salvation if your child is enrolled in an activity that will habitually keep your child and you away from Church on the Lord’s Day?
-Once or twice per season is one thing, but if games or practices are scheduled routinely on Sunday, even if your child is angry, you must tell the child, you have a higher priority: His/ Her Salvation. Your child will not resent you or the Church if this is explained lovingly and if the Church is framed as the most important part of the Family.
-Some part-time jobs do not allow the child to have a choice, but he/she can voice his/her desire to spend Sunday in Church with his/her family. We only have Sundays. Some employers will respect that.
- Choose 1 Activity per season for your child that involves great commitment of time and scheduling.
-This means, 1 sport or band, or choir, or model UN etc,
-How can your child study if he/she has 4-12 other activities?
-How can your child be a child if he/she is worrying about commitments to 4-12 activities?
- Commit to praying together as a family before bed
-Read the Bible!
-Tell the story of a Saint!
-Share the importance of Christ in your life so your child understands it is important in his/her life.
- Participate in some form of Adult Education to show your child that you too are committed to learning more about Christ and His Church
-There are many types of Adult Education for every type of individual.
-Be vocal about it so that your child sees it is important to you.
I PRAY YOU AND YOUR FAMILY WILL TAKE THE ST. BASIL CHALLENGE!
I remain your servant in Christ,
Fr. Dimitri Tobias, Proistamenos