Grass Sport Football Soccer (c) 2016 Pexels
My mom raised me to be a winner.
By the age of 15, I was well on my way to building an impressive resume with a host of modern accomplishments: violinist, athlete (basketball, cross country, track, and softball), French club, animal club, part-time job, and straight As.
I was funny. Tall. Sarcastic. Confirmed in the Catholic Church. And I had absolutely no personal relationship with Jesus or the God who made me.
I didn’t know it then. At the time, I was “achieving” in all the ways that mattered. I got a lot of good feedback from teachers, friends, and parents that I was on the right track, and that happiness was surely going to be mine as a result of my well-rounded personal resume.
And you know what? It wasn’t.
I got into a great school. I started the career I wanted. I met a great guy. And I was still on the path to utter destruction because I’d never stopped to incorporate God, Jesus, or faith in my life.
So, here’s a message I wish my parents had gotten somewhere in my early teens:
Soccer practice isn’t in the Bible.
“Frozen” isn’t in the Bible.
Band practice isn’t in the Bible.
And if you choose to let your kids participate in these activities without the foundation of a spiritual life, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of distraction, pain, and false idols. (OR if, you know, you let pop culture be their culture.)
This story hits close to home even now as I see my Catholic brother and sister-in-law dilute their family life into dance, soccer, and martial arts lessons.
As their large brood grows older, it breaks my heart to see the kids show signs of lack of attention at home and get louder and more out of control every time I visit. Basic lessons of modesty and empathy are nonexistent, and the conversation continually pushes how smart and talented each child is at his or her given hobby.
False idols aren’t just a secular problem. When we’re not careful — very, very careful — they can infiltrate even the most devout family.
What can we do about it? Admittedly, I don’t have children (yet). But maybe that means I can be of service to overwhelmed, tired, and concerned parents who might not have the energy to care about this kind of thing as much as I do (and support them with my actions, too, which I’m not very good about)? Here’s what I’d recommend:
Until you feel totally at peace with how your family members interact among each other and with the outside world.
Until you see evidence of caring, empathy, and respect in every child at every age.
Until you feel like you have a relationship with each of your children and your children have a relationship with God.
… say “No” to any extracurricular activities or entertainments that drain your time, energy, and finances.
Does this mean movies are no good and kids shouldn’t learn how to play sports? Absolutely and definitely not. But it does mean that twice-per-week travel league and watching Frozen every morning in Frozen pajamas and a Frozen-themed sheet set have got to go.
You and your child’s siblings should be the ones teaching your child sports. Your growing family should make its own entertainment and build stories together. And until you know that you and God have influence on your children, you and God should be the only influence on your children.
Protect your children from building a life and culture away from God. You’re the only one who can.
This post first appeared on Sarcastic Catholic.
Copyright 2016 Hannah Jean Kahn