Labyrinth is defined as “an intricate combination of paths or passages in which it is difficult to find one’s way or to reach the exit.” Our parenting journey can often feel the same. Changing generational terminology creates dynamic intergenerational conversations. “Digital immigrants” is the phrase coined to describe persons like today’s parents who weren’t born into the world of texting, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, etc. Our children are products of this world, and so are termed as being “digital natives.”
During our school days, our communication tools involved letter writing and telephoning. When sharing this history with our kids the response is often a look of utter stupefaction. For them it is simply incomprehensible. This generational reaction repeats itself continually throughout the ages. We remember our own parents coming to grips with unfolding fashion trends and unconventional hairstyles.
Being 21st century Catholic parents is a challenging vocation. We are instilling our faith values amidst a storm of conflicting secular values. The pursuit of personal gratification through materialism confronts our kids continually. “Buy this product and it will show everyone that you are cool” is the media message. In addition to this media influence our kids also face peer pressure. The values proposed through these forces are powerful and create frequent tension with our kids. It is tough being a kid today in my view. The constant bombardment of anti-Catholic messages is powerful and ever present.
What are we to do? Time to talk and listen is critical in maintaining a healthy, loving family relationship. When answering NO to a request, it is imperative that we logically and patiently explain our decision-making process. Ongoing, respectful dialogue between both parties is essential in reaching an agreement.
Being proactive in establishing house rules that demonstrate the expectations of your family is key. Assigning tasks promotes responsibility (dishes, garbage collection, etc.) It demonstrates that a family involves sharing the load. For teens a pre-established curfew time needs to be established through a collaborative discussion. Dogmatic rule, as research and history has proven, is doomed to be a failed course of action.
Our kids, just as we did, are searching for their purpose in life. They are provided with a labyrinth of routes that they must explore. We must be there as a guide on the side to offer advice and to provide consolation to them when their choice isn’t the best.
The enigma of parenting is one that God has given us to navigate. Faithful dedication to our faith principles coupled with prayer invites our Lord to be with us as we strive to be the faithful stewards of his precious creations.
Let us journey together through the labyrinth of parenting with the trust that God walks with us.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”