From Questions Parents Ask About Their Children, Fr. Donald Miller, C.SS.R., 1950’s
What do you think about high-school students going steady?
I dislike the current practice so heartily that I have written a pamphlet against it (“Going Steady”), thereby endangering my popularity with many a group of young people. Yes I dared to ridicule it and to speak violently on the subject.
It is, I feel, against nature. Don’t take that “against nature” in the strongest sense. I mean by it that youngsters of that age are gregarious; they tend to move as a group or a crowd; the “going steady”stuff cuts their social living down to one person. It is against their full development.
At the time in their life when they should be learning how to get along with a wide variety of people, they concentrate on one person — to the stunting of their social sense and growth.
It is lazy. The boy does not have to plan for pleasant parties or times for his “girl.” He knows that he can call her up any time and she will be waiting for him.
It makes the girl dependent. She can’t accept other invitations without offending the boy. She has to wait for his nod, his beck and call.
It develops bad traits of character. The boy and the girl feel that they must exercise selfishness: They demand of each other the full rights of exclusive companionship.
It makes for jealousy: The boy pouts if the girl goes out with another boy; the girl is resentful if the boy goes out with another girl.
It limits their growth in the social graces. They do not have to learn to converse; they just “go together.” They get into the habit of dancing always with one partner, and they later find it not so easy to dance with others.
They come to take each other for granted, and they lose thereby the niceties of manners that are — too often — reserved for strangers.
It leads to sin. A boy and a girl cannot be continuously in each other’s company without feeling the sexual urge. Familiarity makes preliminary gestures easy. They begin to think of themselves almost as an engaged couple, with what they conceive as the rights of engaged couples. They become easily a peril to each other.
It leads nowhere. If they marry, it is likely to be a mistake. They have not, strictly speaking, made a choice. They have accepted a habit. If they do not marry, they break up — usually by way of a bad quarrel. Often in a rebound the boy marries badly. The girl is stranded and may in jealous pique throw herself at someone for whom she is even less suited than she was for the first boy, to whom she wants to prove that she can get along without him.
Group parties, going with a variety of people, learning to be pleasant and agreeable to people of assorted temperaments, avoiding the familiarity that leads to temptation, growing in friendships rather than in the premature stimulation of affection — these should be part of high-school days.
High-school students going steady is pretty much of a curse. In a word: I think it’s a blight.
How can it happen that when a mother loves and practices her religion faithfully, her son will be indifferent — if not positively antipathetic — to religion in all forms?
This ties in with the snarling apology that some males offer for their non-attendance of church: “I had too much religion when I was a kid.” The more exact reason usually is: “You had too much religion of the wrong kind . . . . Or the right religion was presented to you in an unattractive fashion.” You can’t possibly have too much of Christ’s religion — if it is presented as Christ meant it to be.
Parents who love their religion and practice it happily and with a certain attractive gaiety of soul seldom have cause to complain that their children do not like religion.
It may happen — and it sometimes does — that a boy or a girl has by forces outside the family been led into positive evil. The boy is practicing impurity, let’s say, and the thought of his parents’ religion appalls and frightens and shames him. Or the girl is severely tempted to sin by the company she is keeping, and she resents religion as the force that may keep her from her dangerous ways.
But if the boy is not held fast by sin or the girl is not strongly and to her own curiosity or satisfaction tempted, the explanation of a child’s indifference to religion lies with the parents.
Mothers have been known to make religion most unattractive. They have neglected their homes for religion. Instead of getting dad and the children a good breakfast, the mother is at morning Mass.
When the family very much wanted to go to see a movie, the mother dragged the family night after night to the novena services.
There are mothers who regard life mournfully and shake doleful heads over the decay of the world and the wickedness of youth. They have made Sunday something of the burden and bore that it was in Puritan New England. They constantly threaten their children with the wrath of God and the pains of hell. No wonder their children don’t find religion attractive.
God loves us; Christ died with utter selflessness for our salvation; the Holy Spirit lives like a bright flame in our hearts. The Eucharist is with us, and the saints are about us, and heaven waits at the end of a good life.
We have the sacraments as well as the commandments. The Church has its feast days as well as its fasts. Christ says, “Come to me,” far more often than He says, “Depart!” And Mother Mary regards her children with a loving smile.
Make religion a thing of joy and beauty, of strength and promise, of life rather than death, and children will not find it other than what Christ meant it to be — the way to a blessed life here and hereafter.
To what extent should parents show affection for one another in front of their children?
You have answered your own question in the noun you used. Show affection, and much of it. Displays or manifestations of passion might alarm your children or surprise them or make them curious.
What about parents who quarrel in the presence of their children? God forgive them the wrong they do their children! Even the youngest child recognizes the evil of such conduct.
Quarreling parents have nervous, highly emotional, unstable, frightened, brooding children. Even a single sharp quarrel in the presence of children upsets the children beyond the parents’ imagining.
If parents must quarrel, I suggest that they remember the old slogan — hire a hall . . . . . or go down into the basement and shut the doors and windows . . . . . . or wait till the children are five miles away.
Do you think that true love between two people is greater at the time of their marriage or after many years of normal married life?
Today most young couples marry on a tidal wave of romantic love . . . . . and tidal waves have a way of receding.
But if a couple have obeyed God’s laws, worked together in unity, known joys together and borne burdens together, been brought close by the partnership of a lifetime, their love ripens and matures. Their love is like their wisdom: It grows greater in quantity and deeper in kind.
The mistake is to think that romantic love is the only kind of love. Love is a thing of the whole man and the whole woman, body and soul. As bodies develop and souls mature, love should move along in the rising growth of personality and character.
After all love is a virtue. Virtues improve with practice. Practice makes for habits. Strong habits are characteristic only of well-developed and matured personalities.
“The very presence of a woman who knows how to combine an enlightened piety with mildness, tact, and thoughtful sympathy, is a constant sermon; she speaks by her very silence, she instills convictions without argument, she attracts souls without wounding susceptibilities; and both in her own house and in her dealings with men and things, which must necessarily be often rude and painful, she plays the part of the soft cotton wool we put between precious but fragile vases to prevent their mutually injuring each other.” – Monseigneur Landriot, Archbishop of Rheims, 1872 –Loreto Publications
Coloring pages for your children….
This booklet contains practical advice on the subjects of dating and choosing a spouse from the Catholic theological viewpoint. Father Lovasik points out clearly what one’s moral obligations are in this area, providing an invaluable aid to youthful readers. Additionally, he demonstrates that Catholic marriage is different from secular marriage and why it is important to choose a partner who is of the Catholic Faith if one would insure his or her personal happiness in marriage. With the rampant dangers to impurity today, with the lax moral standards of a large segment of our society, with divorce at epidemic levels, Clean Love in Courtship will be a welcome source of light and guidance to Catholics serious about their faith.
A Frank, Yet Reverent Instruction on the Intimate Matters of Personal Life for Young Men. To our dear and noble Catholic youths who have preserved, or want to recover, their purity of heart, and are minded to retain it throughout life. For various reasons many good fathers of themselves are not able to give their sons this enlightenment on the mysteries of life properly and sufficiently. They may find this book helpful in the discharge of their parental responsibilities in so delicate a matter.
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