In Part 1, I talked about the band-aid solutions offered by popular culture being inadequate to address the prevention of same-sex attraction/homosexuality itself.
Speaking to those causes listed by the Catholic Medical Association, I’d like to make the following suggestions, based on 22+ years of parenting experience, the collective wisdom of the parents and fellow Catholics I’ve networked with over the years, and books/authors that I’ve/we’ve read and that helped us in our parenting journey.
- Parents need to learn how to be parents. If you come from a family where you weren’t exposed to positive parenting, network with like-minded parents who can give you information and guidance. Don’t be afraid to look at fruits. If they have kids who are polite, seem to be well-rounded and well-adjusted, have a positive outlook in life, are even-mannered, these are indications that the parents are doing something right. Ask them what they do. Your faith community would be a good place to start networking with other parents. There are family programs out there — look for them. One example is CFC-FFL. If you’ve got a homeschooling network in your community, that may be a good place to start as well; homeschooling parents tend to be very committed to their roles as children’s primary educators. Even if you don’t homeschool, you can learn a lot from them.
- Parents need to be secure in their own sexuality. Network with parents who are clear examples of authentic femininity or masculinity, and who are not afraid or apologetic about their womanliness or manliness.
- Addressing physical separation: For Catholics, I think it is essential that we educate ourselves on Catholic Social Doctrine. Children should not have to endure prolonged physical separation from their parents. Unfortunately, many are forced to endure this because of work. I think that one of the solutions we need to talk about as a society is how to bring the parent home. If this is an unavoidable situation, then the parent who stays home with the child needs to find suitable mentors within the community, within a parent network, within the Church, where children can be exposed to positive role models. Of course, this can be tricky especially in the current moral climate, so remaining ever-vigilant is key.
- Many of the statements I’ve seen from LGBT reveal destructive behaviors of the father — abandoning the family, “starting over” with a second family, being an alcoholic, exposing children to pornography, etc. In one news article I read, a father beat up his own son after the son revealed that he was homosexual. These are parental behaviors that need to stop.
- Parents, your children need to see you being affectionate with each other. It is in the home that they are first exposed to healthy expressions of love for each other — if mom and dad aren’t modeling these behaviors, where would they learn? We are educating our children with our actions, even more so than with our words.
- Don’t skimp on physical expressions of love for your children. Hugs are spiritual and emotional vitamins, they need them on a daily basis. We give each other back rubs here at home; they do the spirit good.
- Don’t forget four essential words/phrases: Please, Thank You, Sorry, I Love You. Say them often, say them and mean them. (If you think about it, these are the same sentiments found in the Lord’s Prayer, except we’re addressing them to our Heavenly Father.)
- A shoring up of marriage and family is sorely needed. Develop an awareness of what’s happening globally in relation to parental rights and traditional marriage. There are many laws being proposed and advanced that undermine marriage and family. Our help is needed if we are going to stem the tide.
- The parent-child connection needs to be established early on. One way to do this is to support/practice breastfeeding. Learn about Attachment Parenting. Network/share ideas with parents who practice this as well. Filipinos are naturals at this since it’s usually the way we were raised (family bed, close ties, etc.).
- Addictions like alcoholism or substance abuse need to be addressed professionally. These are highly destructive to the family and will likely start/perpetuate a cycle that could have dire consequences.
- Commit to spending time together as a family. Family dinners are a great way to connect with everyone at the end of the day. Guard this time fiercely. There should be nothing interrupting it like social media (cell phones at the table are a no-no).
- Be picky about your friends and about your children’s friends. There is nothing wrong with this. You don’t choose to be friends with everyone, do you? Teach your kids to choose wisely.
- Read good parenting books, such as Hold On to Your Kids. More info here. You can listen to the first chapter here. Below are sample videos of the authors. You can find more on YouTube.
- Be careful what you allow into your home. If you wouldn’t allow a prostitute into your home, there should be no reason you allow pornography into your home. If you are viewing pornography on your computer and you think your kids aren’t seeing you, think again. If you don’t want your child to read a certain book, or watch a certain movie, or listen to a certain song, ask yourself, what makes it right for ME to read/watch/listen to it?
- Pray, pray, pray. Teach your children the power of prayer. Cultivate the habit of prayer in them by praying a family Rosary nightly, for instance. Say grace at meals.
- Let them fall in love with the saints. They are powerful examples of people who chose to swim against the tide, often at great odds, to follow Christ. They will not lead your children astray.
- Protect your child from harmful teasing, either from yourself, from siblings, or from other people. Teasing has different effects on children, depending on their particular sensitivities, personality, temperament. Some teasing can actually be perceived as a subtle form of bullying. Avoid inflicting emotional hurt; often these have the most devastating effects of all. A helpful book — life-changing, really — about learning to be a kinder, gentler parent is The Hidden Power of Kindness. If your child comes to you with a complaint that he is being teased, discuss ways on how he/she can respond; if necessary, talk to the parent of the teaser. That is your job.
- Learn appropriate ways of expressing anger. I tend to be a yeller, so over the years, I’ve had to learn to tame this monster. I still have occasional outbursts; it’s something that needs to be worked on constantly. For Catholics, prayer, the Sacraments, getting to know the saints, are all immensely beneficial. If necessary, seek professional help.
- Read up. There’s no reason in this information age not to be able to find help to help you improve your parenting skills. Fathers for Good is a good website. So are Catholic Mothers Online and Catholic Mom. There are many others.
- Remember that your children are not yours, they are on loan from God. They are not your mini-me, and their personal journey will probably look very different from yours. They will make mistakes, just like you.
- If you find you need to change something in yourself or your child, focus on one behavior at a time. If, let’s say, you go out and drink on a weekly basis with your friends, consider cutting that time down to once a month so you can spend more time with your children. Parents should ideally be spending the bulk of their time with family anyway, but I see this phenomenon happening everywhere, where parents still act like they’re singles even when there are children needing their time and attention. Know that how much time you spend your children will have lasting effects on their psyche.
- If you don’t seem to have the communication skills necessary to effectively communicate with and parent your child, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk is a classic that has helped countless parents. Some of it will come naturally to you, others will take work. At some point after you practice the skills in the book, you’ll find a way to personalize the techniques and make them your own.
- When talking to your kids, speak from the heart. Nothing touches your child quite like knowing that you’ve been where they are. Share your sufferings from when you were young, tell them how you coped. If you’ve suffered from same-sex attraction, been addicted to pornography, etc., figure out a time when you can talk to your child about these things — you know best when they’re psychologically, mentally, spiritually prepared for that talk. But don’t wait until it’s too late.
- Find wholesome ways to occupy your time. Sports are good. If your child isn’t interested in team sports, consider an individual sport like martial arts, where they can go at their own pace.
- Find out and cultivate your child’s interests. If you can find a common interest you can pursue together, so much the better. In our home, it’s been martial arts and scouting. Find ways to bond outside the home.
- Demonstrate moderation and self-control; your kids are watching you. Watch for addictive tendencies and behaviors.
- Early on, encourage a positive view of the human body and sexuality. How you talk about sexual topics will affect how they see things. Catholic parents need to immerse themselves in the teachings found in JPII’s Theology of the Body. Talking about the beauty and sacredness of sex in marriage is not something we should be shying away from as parents, so if we don’t have the language or terminology to address these issues adequately, then this needs to become priority ASAP. There are way too many people out there eager to educate our children on things we are not willing or ready to educate them on.
- Lastly, unconditional love and acceptance of children. This should go without saying, but sadly, very much forgotten today. Whatever problems our kids have to go through — bullying, a mean teacher, peer pressure, same-sex attraction, etc., we need to establish a relationship with them BEFORE THE PROBLEMS COME, so that WE are the first people they approach for help. We need to be their first line of defense.
Related Post: 100 Ways to Rebuild the Culture of Life