Once you’ve established a routine of responsible parenting–having quality time and a regular system of faith formation originating at home–you are ready for phase two of “Forming Their ‘Pickerouters’”. Remember the goal is to have a child with a healthy, Christ-centered “pickerouter” that is attracted to people, places, and things that are true, beautiful, and good. Believe me, a good “pickerouter” helps debunk the stereotypes of nightmare adolescent years.
I don’t subscribe 100% to Hillary Clinton’s “it takes a village” philosophy of raising children. But, I do believe it is critical to recognize and respond to the reality that raising children and forming them in their faith does not happen in a vacuum. Peers, technology, and culture will increasingly have a larger role on whether your child’s “pickerouter” stays in good condition or starts to malfunction. That’s why you need to stack the deck in your favor early.
Have a consistent group of friends
If possible, this works best if you can stay in one place and keep your kids with a consistent group of peers throughout school. I recognize that is always possible. If you do move around you will need to work a little harder to catch up in your new locale. I recommend doing what a good friend shared with me. As soon as her daughter was in school starting in kindergarten, she systematically invited each girl in the class together for a play date at least once. I implemented this with my own kids. It took nearly five years to invite every kid. But it allowed me to become acquainted with the moms on a one-on-one basis and to get a feel for each kid.
Get in to groups
Participating in groups that encourage virtue and character development, such as Kids for Jesus (K4J), Boy Scouts, Challenge, Conquest, etc. and inviting friends to join you, when powerfully combined with strategy number one filter the kids and families with similar values and priorities. You are creating opportunities for friendships to grow and “pickerouters” to find satisfaction in relationships with kids who are kind and accepting and whose needs are getting met at home.
By about 5th grade the fruits of your “pickerouter” efforts will be visible and your kids will be making good choices about their friends. With the higher self-esteem from feeling loved and from having a personal relationship with Christ combined with successful interactions and relationships with healthy peers, your kid’s “pickerouter” will be operating properly. Kids with unmet needs or engrossed in the “culture of cool” won’t appeal.
However, there are two other legs of the stool that can still foul things up if not managed: technology and culture. Tune in next time to learn strategies to protect your kids’ “pickerouter” from some of the negative impacts of these factors.
Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Invest in relationships with your kids’ friends and their parents.
Copyright 2012 Christina M. Weber