Chapter 7 Reflections

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    1. What kinds of formation are advocated by Pope Francis for the integral growth and education of children? AL 259-290
    Faith formation begins in the home and family. The home must be the place where children first learn the faith. As children mature and reach adolescence, they must be encouraged in their faith experiences. Parents must realize that they are living examples of faith and conduct themselves thus. Ways of assisting in the faith formation of children include mass attendance, family prayer, and making Christ the center of your home. I think it is important to remember to include faith and church attendance when we plan vacations and family outings. Some of our most memorable vacation experiences have occurred when we have visited parishes, especially outside of the US.

    2. How might parents provide their children with an “education in hope”? AL 275
    Our children are growing up in an age of instant gratification. This has created a culture of anxious people that are easily disappointed or frustrated. We had an unexpected lesson in this last summer when we were hosting Ted’s teenage granddaughter and a friend in a Wisconsin cabin. A severe storm knocked out our power for about 3 days. We had the pleasure of teaching two teens how to survive with no electronics and hauling lake water to flush toilets! To continue, I think it is important to find ways of allowing children to earn things they desire; giving a child age appropriate tasks or projects to “buy” things they desire. This can help to build self-esteem and worth. Another avenue as they get older is trust. Allowing children to gradually expand their world as they make positive decisions will give them the skills to take into adulthood.

    3. What does Pope Francis make of the role of technology and entertainment media in family life? AL 278
    Technology can keep distant family members in contact, but it cannot replace face-to-face interactions. As a couple, we are guilty of scrolling through our phones after meals, but when we all gather as a family, it is a “phone-free zone”. With my son’s upcoming move to Japan, we are trying out ways of cheaply communicating. Even playing word games against each other will let me know he is ok. Pope Francis recognizes that there must be a healthy balance with technology and social media. We cannot let it replace human friendships and closeness.

    4. What are the principles of sexual education promoted by Amoris Laetitia and how are these related to the total commitment of marriage? AL 280-286
    This is a tough topic. Sex education should provide age-appropriate information that teaches children to recognize both dangers and positive influences. As they grow older, children must be taught to recognize the gift of their body, the benefits of modesty, and how love and sex can be confused. I see instances where young people have been conditioned to be ultra-modest, to the point of being unable to even talk about their body in a positive forum, yet they will investigate websites or be promiscuous on social media. I am old enough to remember taking showers after gym class and sports, all of us showering in open locker rooms. Kids are now sheltered from this and are afraid to use common facilities. When I was a middle school church camp counselor, many of my girls returned from the shower house wearing wet clothes. They were attempting to put their clean clothes in the corner of the shower so that they could do everything behind a curtain. Invariably, their clean clothes were also showered! I don’t have all the answers, but it seems that our society works in extremes. I still believe that parents should take the front seat on sex education and model healthy sexuality for their children.

    5. Pope Francis affirms the primary gift and responsibility of parents to raise their children in the faith (AL 287-290). What does this responsibility demand of parents and how can the community of faith better support this task?
    Faith formation begins in the home, but the entire community of faith should be open to encourage and assist families. We have a very unofficial group, the “Right Siders”, in church. This is a loose group of several families that sit on the right side near the front. We kind of keep track of one another and wave before mass. When someone misses a mass, we find out why! Two of the families have small children and it is fun to celebrate milestones with them. One girl made her first Communion this spring. Two boys will begin kindergarten in the parish school this fall. Families should not be expected to bring their children up feeling isolated or over-extended. With both parents often working and grandparents living in distant places, middle-aged members may need to develop cross-generational friendships to help young families.

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