Wednesday is our usual day for my opinion column, but because so many of you responded to Friday’s posting and Sunday’s FOX & Friends segment about raising children in a media saturated environment, I want to share with you some of the e-mails I have received.
If you are interested, you can also click here to see a segment I did Monday morningabout the newest low blow against art history, the humanities ... and, let’s be honest, against Christianity.
Here are your e-mails. I’ve decided not to respond to them online this time since I don’t want to distract from the good advice you all give. Thank you for writing!
God bless, Father Jonathan
• E-mail Father Jonathan
I had those same concerns for my three teenage sons; being a single mother and not having a male role model in their lives always has been a great concern of mine. Their father and I never married. He has not been present in their lives and both of us had a severe drinking problem. I managed to get help through my church and AA (sober two and a half years), but, their father continues to drink and have other children without getting married. I know I have made mistakes in my past and I'm trying to be a role model today. Believe me Father, It is just plain HARD ... I loved what you had to say about living our words. I will try to continue to keep that in mind every time I correct my sons. Sometimes Father, I feel like running away and starting over, but your words were very encouraging. Like Jesus would say, "Go and do not sin anymore." I try to remember that. I won't give up Father. — Delilah T.
Thank you so much for your article. It sometimes seems we are some of the very few parents who consider parenting to be a verb rather than a title. It is good to know that others are doing everything they can to raise their children to be kind, moral, strong and God-centered adults.
One thing my husband and I do with our 12-year-old daughters is to talk about real life examples of how people’s choices resulted in real problems and life-altering consequences, such as an out-of-state nephew who died of a heroin overdose at the age of 18; a different nephew who got his girlfriend of two months pregnant; neighbors who have terribly difficult marriages and children with big problems; teens who turn to racy apparel and promiscuity in an attempt to bolster their self-worth, etc. We discuss these problems with love, compassion, pity and pray for those whose lives are troubled. I want them to know these things really happen to people we know so that my girls are less likely to think it won’t happen to them and only to “other” people. We discuss the choices that contributed to the problems and the alternative choices that would have avoided the heartaches and life-changing consequences.
Thanks for doing all you can to help the battle against the “culture of death” that wants to rob our children of all that is good, innocent, and life-giving. — Katie
Do you think you can give useful advice on how to raise children if you have not experienced it yourself? It would be like teaching how to ride a bike if you have not ridden a bike. — Ben
As a father of three (14 and 11-year-old daughters and an 8-yearr-old son) this culture of death we are in is enough to make your head spin. I am also a practicing family physician and am asked that question frequently. The answer you gave, especially “practicing what you preach” is so important. Our children are mirror images of ourselves. If you want good kids, be a good role model and the only way they will know you are a good role model is to be a part of their lives. Doing positive things with them so they don’t associate parents with punishment or a hard time will keep them clean. Ultimately, they must make their own choices and even the best parents will have kids that turn out bad. Prayer is the only thing to assure they turn out good. God always makes up for our deficiencies when we ask. — Dr. Nick
I certainly can relate to her concerns. I am a nurse from Philippines and my husband is a surgeon from Nigeria. We have three children, all were born here in Saudi Arabia where we have been living and working for over a decade. Life in Saudi Arabia is not one that I will call ideal, but I am thankful that my young children were, so far, kept from the maddening course the media has led other kids to in the so-called "free and civilized world." We are in the process of emmigrating to the USA, a decision that up to this day, is giving me dread and sleepless nights. I am unsure if we are making a good decision. We want the best education for our children, hence the plan to relocate, but I am at the same time aware that we are moving to a different world where the likes of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Ritchie's bad behaviors are somewhat "tolerated." I am afraid that my 5-year-old daughter, who is so far well-behaved, will grow up with these celebrities' horrible antics being played out unapologetically in the media. We are afraid that our children will see such impurity tolerated by the society and glorified by the media and may be perceived as "OK." — Ertha
Regarding the woman who is asking questions about raising her teen, I worked with teenagers for 10 years. I’m a dad of three and a pastor at a church in Houston. The No. 1 piece of advice I can give her or anyone, is to read Parenting With Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. It addresses all of her concerns. I haven’t found anything better. — Kevin
You make me nauseous. What do you know about raising kids … typical pontificating with no basis in reality. Nobody cares about your suggestions. They won’t work and things are so bad there is nothing we can do. You make me so mad and I can’t believe I keep reading you. If I have kids some day, you can be sure I won’t follow any of your advice. I bet real parents are laughing in disgust when they read you. — Jim
Your article contains excellent advice to parents and I commend you for your stance on TV, Internet and cell phone use. I call those "the electronic babysitters." I hear parents around me complain about their children's manners, attitudes and behaviors — however, they will staunchly defend their decision to allow their children to have all manner of electronics in their rooms and their lives, while at the same time wondering why their children are out of control. My husband and I are not perfect parents and our children aren't perfect kids, but what they are are active, compassionate, loving, creative, and inquisitive human beings. They aren't missing anything by being "unplugged," on the contrary, they're seeing and doing more and loving their childhoods. I look forward to reading your next installment. — Cheryl
I would also recommend that the mother spend time talking with her children everyday and focus on listening to her children. I try to initiate conversations with my daughters about things that are important to them. We also discuss current events and I try to ask for their opinions before offering mine. At first they didn't seem to be interested in my opinions, but now they both ask what I think about issues. We also are sure to tell our daughters (ages 10 and 17) that we love them every day. Even our 18-year-old daughter still likes to hear those words. A few years ago, we unintentionally let this slide and when my husband had a long talk with our then 15-year-old ... she later told me, "Dad told me he loves me!" and I could tell that it really meant a lot to her. — Susan
I have been away from my family for about 28 out of the last 36 months, but I still maintain that constant communication with my kids weather it be through e-mail or a phone call home. My wife will e-mail me and tell me about my daughter's behavior and if I get a chance to call home and talk to her it seems that she gets her act together because she knows what we expect of her and that her behavior is unacceptable. A drill sergeant once told me, "It is always better to take the hard right then it is to take the easy left," and I try to do that in every decision that I make. — Sgt. Paul D Martin
I loved and appreciated your article and mentally said, “Whew!” We try to do the things you mentioned — no TV in the bedrooms, spending time together, setting positive examples and knowing what they’re watching. Our girls are 10 and seven. This summer, we started a family project. We chose a soldier from a Web site who is stationed in Iraq. We all wrote him letters, and gathered things for a care package that he can share with his platoon. We will continue this for as long as it takes.— Katie
Oh boy can I relate! As a mother of five sons, two of which are now teens (13 and 14), I have all of the same concerns as this Mom does. I believe that I would have given her similar advice as to what you have.
Yep, I’m strict, but I feel that’s my job. I’ll continue to do things just the same way. I do know, that even though my kids think I’m strict, they do appreciate what their Dad and I are all about. They might not say it as often as we would like to hear it but every now and then — they let us know that they think our rules are good ones and that they are glad that we are watching.
All you can do is stick to your guns and pray for them. With good, loving and watchful parents behind them, I think most kids will turn out okay. They may make a mistake or two but when they have their parent’s love and guidance behind them, they will actually learn from their mistakes. — Shel W.
Interesting Selection of Articles for Today
Values and Politics
• Romney: Faith Shouldn't Count in Race
• Giuliani Questioned About Catholicism
• Fred Thompson: ‘Criticism of My Wife Should Be Directed at Me’
• Conservative Talk Radio Hosts See New Side of Bush
• Study: Breast Implants Linked to Suicide
• To Gain Popularity, 'Wannarexic' Girls Yearn for Eating Disorders
• Survey Reveals Biggest Spiritual Challenges for Christian Parents
• Companies See Benefits in Hiring Chaplains to Help Employees
• Clinical Drug Trials in Spotlight in Wake of Patient’s Death
• Oxford Ethicist: ‘Babies should be Custom Made’
• Future of Stem Cell Tests May Hang on Defining Embryo Harm
• After Doctor Charged with Hastening a Patient’s Death for his Organs, Those Awaiting Transplants Ponder Case’s Effect
• Twin Cities Unite in Prayer for Bridge Collapse Victims, Survivors
• Pastor Poised to Replace Haggard Plans to Focus on Faith instead of Politics
• China Tells Tibet's ‘Living Buddhas’ They Must Apply for Reincarnation
• Further Fervor: Missionaries Going from East to West
• Protestant Churches Losing Young Adults in ‘Sobering’ Numbers, Survey Finds
Not All News is Bad News
• From An Outpost, a Marine Witnesses the Birth of his Child
• Chaplains Reflect on 232 Years of Being There for Troops in War
• Teen Makes Money Just to Give It Away
• Memoir Traces Grieving Widow’s Path to Warden Service Ministry
News Which Never Made the News
• New Bridge-Monitoring Devices Go Unused: States Lag in Buying Safety Technology
• Jewish-Born French Cardinal Lustiger, a ‘Champion of Interfaith Relations,’ Dies at 80
•‘It Was a Big Risk’: Doctors Deliver Medicine to Korean Hostages in Afghanistan
• Royal Must Renounce British Throne Claim to Marry Catholic Fiancé
• Click over to visit Father Jonathan's Column Archive