Posted February 09, 2015:
Raising Our Children Catholic (Part 3)

by Ella Connor, friend of MH England & Combermere.

In this final section, Ella gives some pointers on keeping the lines of communication open with one’s children and teenagers. Though this English woman wrote this forty years ago, the essence of it still holds true.

Ella is now 92 years old.

Communication has become an important word in the Church today. How vital this is and has always been in a family!

One of the curses of our time is the misuse of the television.* We have come to the point where parents don’t communicate with each other, never mind communicating with the children.

Often, the only bit of communication that happens when a child comes home from school is their asking what’s on the TV. Then they watch until they go to bed and that’s that.

And Dad comes in from work tired, and he also sits in front of the television. It’s easier than making the effort to talk.

Of course, I know that this does not happen in every home but it happens all too often, and soon a week or a month or a year has gone by and the amount of communication during that time has been very small.

Then all of a sudden the children are teenagers, and the opportunities for communication with them are gone and we cannot return to them.

We can’t expect them to start having long conversations with us and telling us about their difficulties and what they believe in and are interested in, when conversation in the home has not been encouraged and in some cases, was positively discouraged.

If the only people they have been listening to are the people on television, people who very often put across views which are positively harmful to them, they will have lost interest in listening to us.

It is a different matter if we decide as a family to watch a program and then have a talk about it afterwards. That can be helpful because we get to know their train of thought and what is in their minds, and they get to know what we think about certain subjects. But that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the misuse of the television.

Of course, communication doesn’t mean just talking; it is also working together, going for walks together, parents making it fun, even adventurous, to do things with the children.

I can remember one occasion when we wanted to visit my sister, who is a nun. We had very little money to spare at the time. I suppose the children were approximately 14, 12, 10, and 8 at the time.

The convent was about eleven miles away, and we decided to walk there and back. We packed a lunch, went to early Mass, and set off. It was a pleasant walk, we had lunch in the woods, and we arrived at the convent at about 1:30 p.m.

We had a lovely afternoon with my sister, the nuns gave us a lovely tea, and we set off about 5 o’clock to walk home. It was a great adventure for the children.

Now, we all remember such occasions with great pleasure and often talk about them. What opportunities they were for talking and listening and sharing many things that we would otherwise have missed.

If we don’t communicate with our children at this age when they already have opinions of their own, we will never get to know what those opinions are. And it is vital that we do, so that we can guide them round the pitfalls they are going to have to face later on, when other views and opinions will inevitably come their way.

If they don’t talk to us about their doubts and fears, especially about God and their faith, they will be in a kind of limbo—not knowing where to turn for guidance and perhaps not even realising that they need it.

I can remember our younger son, aged about ten, coming home from school one day and saying, "Mum, how do we know that God and religion isn’t all a big joke?"

I said a quick prayer to the Holy Spirit and plunged into an answer. I can’t remember now what I said to him, but it seemed to be satisfactory, and I thanked God that my son could come and ask me.

We have to be available to our children, especially our teenage children, when they want us to be available.

Many a time, just as we were going up to bed (usually quite late), our older son would be padding down the stairs and saying, "I can’t go to sleep."

We would go back downstairs, put the kettle on for a cup of tea, and settle down for what we knew would be a long session.

He always did this if he had something on his mind. We would say, "Why can’t you go to sleep?" and out it would all come: sixth form blues, did he have a vocation to the priesthood.

He was head boy at school, and he took his duties quite seriously, so occasionally he wanted to talk over something worrying him in that area. Or he wanted to go on Voluntary Service Overseas when he left school before going to college to train as a teacher. You name it.

I dread to think how he would have got on if we had not been available then, late at night.

Wonderfully enough, now when he is married with a baby of his own, he and his wife still want to talk over their problems with us. What a reward for being available when we were needed!

Incidentally, we were not and are not a "Holy Joe" family. We didn’t have religious talking sessions with our children and religion was only one of the many things we talked about with them.

But it always came up naturally in the course of conversation because really, when all is said and done, in the end, everything is about God.

The End

*Now, obviously, the kinds of problems caused by television have increased tremendously with the computer revolution.

Parts 1and 2 can be found on the internet at in December 2014 and January 2015.


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