Internet, cell phones, TV, and movies all have their definite advantages. However the potential for harm multiplies exponentially when put in the hands of unsupervised youngsters. Although, we Catholic parents did have choices. Just as we preached to our children that they had choices, we had choices. Did we choose wisely, Grasshoppers? Did we monitor these devices? Did we enforce time restraints, monitor and block inappropriate content? Did we place the computer in a central location or did we shove our child into their bedroom to surf the Web unsupervised? If we did the latter we not only dropped the rope, we handed it to the enemy. We shoved our young children closer to the seasoned enemy with no credible defense against the infinite immorality easily found with a mere click of the mouse.
The Internet. Chat rooms of perverts waiting to pounce, porn of all varieties stealing innocence and setting unrealistic expectations about life and love, and a wide array of just plain bad stuff easily purchased with a “borrowed” credit card from an absentee parent. Every time a parent looked away, Satan attracted the child’s attention. Tug, tug, tug.
Why does a 10-year-old need a cell phone? To stay in constant communication with their parents? I don’t think so. If a parent believed that excuse chalk it up to misplaced trust. As our children grew into their teenage years, a.k.a party years, a cell phone garnered somewhat of a purpose. Party scenario: Parent allowed 15-year-old daughter to spend the night at the house of a trusted friend. First red flag. Spending the night. That’s a very long expanse of unsupervised time. Did we call the host’s parents? Were they going to be home the entire night? And dear daughter has her own cell phone so mom and dad can call to check on her anytime. Second red flag. A teenager can be anywhere when she answers her own cell phone. One more time – a child can be calling from Mexico on her cell phone. “Sure, Mom, everything’s great. Gotta go now. (My turn to swig the tequila.)” Did you always, and I mean always, tell your teens that they needed to provide you with the cell phone or landline phone number of the hosting parent? If so, your child knew you were smart and that you cared. Your children slid a little closer to God, and He smiled down at you knowing you took your parental responsibility seriously.
Satan must own stock in TV shows and movies. We are ensconced in a dark world where bed-hopping is the order of the day for many of our teens and young adults. “Give a kid a condom and sex is okay,” Satan whispers. “Watch Jersey Shore tonight to see what you’re missing.” He can whisper because he’s gotten so close to our dear ones. He can almost touch our children, and the old fogey Catholic parents seem light years away at that far end of the rope. But sex before marriage is not okay. So many things in this world are just not okay. When did we become afraid of hurting our children’s delicate feelings? Back when they were babies and we urged them away from the hot stove we were good parents. If we saw them headed toward that stove we’d scream our head off to warn them to stay away. A child rushes toward the busy street to retrieve a rolling ball, we stop him. We would physically “tug” them away. We had their best interests at heart. When and why did our children become so stupid as to think that we no longer had their best interests at the heart of our hearts? Did our children think that we didn’t want them to experience the joy of sex? That we were hoarding it all for ourselves?
Hopefully, we Catholic moms and dads realized that our immature children viewed their worlds through tunnel vision. So concerned were they with themselves, their needs and wants, that they ignored the big picture. But to us, potential pitfalls popped off the pages daily in all their 3-D glory. We dodged them when we were younger. We knew what was coming for our adolescents because we lived through adolescence. We mature ones have lived more than double the lives our kiddies have lived. We see the big picture. Yet our children continue to stick their head in the sand and think they are impervious to sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Never mind what it does to their hearts. They want what they want when they want it. They tweet their exploits across the Web. They count their worth by the number of cyber “friends” they have racked up on their walls. And they feel validated because “everyone else is doing it.”
Personally, I am a big proponent of screaming if it necessary to get through the haze of the young adult brain.
Throughout my children’s formative years a Sunday morning ritual emerged:
10:00 – I screamed up the steps, “Wake up. Time for Mass.”
10:10 – No takers. I screamed louder.
10:20 – One or two children descended the stairs if I was lucky.
10:30 – The third sauntered down. Last holdout still up there. I bellowed. Such a sound!
10:40 – Our happy little family was driving to Mass. I was furious. Invariably someone balanced a sloshing cereal bowl on their lap.
10:55 – We marched into Mass. Oh such good boys. What a nice family. It took me most of Mass to simply calm down.
Two decades later I reached my limit. I wasn’t screaming up those steps disrupting our Sundays and my nerves any longer. I would show them all. A year later none of my children regularly attend Mass. For 20 years they rarely missed but now they’re among the ranks of the Christmas/Easter crowd. I thought they were old enough to make their own choices. I dropped my end of the rope. And I don’t see me getting it back anytime soon, if ever. Don’t drop the rope. Ever.
Satan’s arsenal is packed with weapons to lure our children away from us, away from God. Satan manufactures illicit drugs. He entices our children with drink. One drink for an over-21 child is okay. Being wasted every weekend is not okay. Satan tempts. Satan yanks. Satan is a genius. He knows exactly when and how to twist the knife to gain more rope. As our children choose his slippery slope the length of rope in our own raw hands gets longer and longer while Satan has shortened up his side. He’s already close enough to whisper. One more step and he takes a bite out of them. He does his best to destroy the life we’ve nurtured for decades. He fills their emptiness by manufacturing phony ways for them to feel worth. We lock our door against burglars. Our vehicle warns us with a screeching siren if anyone tampers with it. As a most vigilant wanna-be parent, Satan spies on our children ever so closely each day. Remember that both God and Satan are gazing at the same crystal ball of our children’s lives. Both want our children’s souls for eternity. Who wants them more?
Copyright 2012 Maureen Locher