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Outside Influences and Your Child

How many more deadly influences there are now than in Father Kelly’s time! We, as parents, have a difficult line to walk. It takes prayer, forgiveness (especially forgiving our own failings), everyday proactive diligence and confidence in the help of Our Lord!

From The Catholic Family Handbook, Rev. George Kelly

The kind of adult your child will become will depend upon his heredity and upon three environmental factors: the influence you exert over him at home, the influence of church and school, and finally the influences of the society in which he lives–the television programs and movies he views, radio programs he hears, books he reads, and companions with whom he associates.

It is true that you, as his parent, will influence him the most. But it is a serious mistake to believe that he can be exposed to bad influences without the danger of being corrupted by them.

The Church has long recognized that even the best home training for a truly Christian life can be counteracted by other influences which oppose parental teaching and example.

It is precisely for that reason that she has insisted, wherever possible, that children attend schools which teach principles of godly living. It is also for this reason that she firmly urges parents to watch constantly over external influences to which their children are subjected.

These outside pressures are probably more pernicious today than at any time in Christianity’s history. Almost everywhere established standards are under attack.

Note the trend toward secularism which seeks to remove God’s influence from the everyday lives of the people. This trend prevents the reciting of prayers to the Almighty in many public schools and in many public meetings and is responsible for the shocking divorce rate and widespread practice of birth control.

As a result of the secularist trend, almost half of the adults in the United States hold no church affiliation at all, and millions of others who claim to be Catholics, Protestants or Jews make no visible effort to apply God’s teachings in their everyday affairs. Evidence of this movement away from God is apparent also in the growing materialism of American life.

This materialism leads persons to believe that success lies not in the development of the interior spirit but rather in the attainment of things–bigger motor cars, larger homes, more efficient appliances and the like.

A second destructive trend is that toward socialism. It is reflected in efforts to remove the home as the center of influence in a child’s life and to substitute the school or other state-supported organization.

Because of the state’s growing tentacles, for example, we see the pronounced campaign to educate youngsters about sex in the classroom instead of in the privacy of their homes.

Finally, the attack on established standards is nowhere more evident than in the flagrant obsession with sex. In modern America, sex stimulation is unending.

Almost everywhere there are lurid photographs, provocative songs, enticing scenes in films, and the glorification of sexy women in popular newspapers and magazines.

This flood of sex is not something which puritans alone are aware of; it strikes the eye of almost every observant foreign visitor. For as Pitirim A. Sorokin, the famous Harvard sociologist, pointed out in his book “The American Sex Revolution,” every aspect of our culture is literally packed with this obsession.

“Its vast totality bombards us continually, from cradle to grave, from all points of our living space, at almost every step of our activities, feeling and thinking,” Dr. Sorokin wrote.

“If we escape from being stirred by obscene literature, we may be aroused by the crooners, or by the new psychology and sociology, or by the teachings of the Freudianized pseudo-religions, or by radio-television entertainment.

We are completely surrounded by the rising tide of sex in every compartment of our culture, every section of our social life.”

These influences–of secularism, socialism and sex–strike at our fundamental religious beliefs and actions. They are insidious poisons, and unless you control their intake with the utmost care they may corrupt the minds and hearts of your children.

They exist in almost every area of public communication. They can be found on television, in movies, in books and magazines.

It is an error to assume, however, that those media are, in themselves, dangerous. As the late Pope Pius XII pointed out on many occasions, all instruments of communication can be marvelous forces for good.

They can be used to uplift minds and hearts and to intensify our devotion to the Almighty and our spiritual growth.

Much that your youngster might encounter in these media may be harmful or merely tasteless and–at least in a moral sense–neutral.

Much, however, will also help him to gain a mature understanding of the world and a greater insight into idealistic achievements of which he may be capable.

Therefore do not condemn movies, or television, or books out of hand. Rather, exercise a diligent watch over them.

Encourage your child to seek out what is good and helpful on the spiritual, emotional and intellectual levels, and restrain him from the bad.

In this necessary function as guardian of your child’s development, use the guidance of professionals and their listings of movies, plays, books, etc., which are suitable for children of different ages.

To protect your youngster from evil forces outside the home will require much patience and application. There are so many sources of possible moral harm that you will have to be constantly alert.

Your constant concern will be reflected, however, in your child’s wholesome development. Eternal vigilance is the price of sanctity.

“Keep a hobby and ride it with enthusiasm. It will keep you out of mischief, to say the least; it will keep you cheerful. Here as in all things you can apply the Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (for the greater glory of God).” – Fr. Lasance, My Prayer Book, Painting by Marcel Marlier (1930 – 2011, Belgian)

This graceful Vintaj Blessed Mother necklace can be worn every day as a reminder of your devotion to the Blessed Mother! Get it blessed and you can use it also as a sacramental. Available here.


“We live in an age characterized by agitation and lack of peace. This tendency manifests itself in our spiritual as well as our secular life. In our search for God and holiness, in our service to our neighbor, a kind of restlessness and anxiety take the place of the confidence and peace which ought to be ours. What must we do to overcome the moments of fear and distress which assail us? How can we learn to place all our confidence in God and abandon ourselves into his loving care? This is what is taught in this simple, yet profound little treatise on peace of head. Taking concrete examples from our everyday life, the author invites us to respond in a Gospel fashion to the upsetting situations we must all confront. Since peace of heart is a pure gift of God, it is something we should seek, pursue and ask him for without cease. This book is here to help us in that pursuit.”

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