This month, I want to share some of the teachings of Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laeticia" on the Christian education of our children.
In chapter 259, the Holy Father says, "Parents always influence the moral development of their children, for better or for worse. It follows that they should take up this essential role and carry it out consciously, enthusiastically, reasonably and appropriately." My friend director of Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Providence Silvio Cuellar shared the following on this:
"I believe that there is a secret formula to having children who are enthusiastic about their faith. Do you want your children to love Jesus and live the Catholic Faith? Begin to live your faith in the house in a passionate way, with enthusiasm, if you are passionate your children will become contagious.
"Another important point is in chapter 260. 'Parents need to consider what they want their children to be exposed to, and this necessarily means being concerned about who is providing their entertainment, who is entering their rooms through television and electronic devices, and with whom they are spending their free time.'
Today there are many distractions and temptations in the media, and easy access to drugs, violence and pornography with just a click on the computer or a button on the phone. This requires that we parents protect our children, have an actively communicate with them and limit to some extent what they are exposed to.
"The pope continues in 260: 'Only if we devote time to our children, speaking of important things with simplicity and concern, and finding healthy ways for them to spend their time, will we be able to shield them from harm. Vigilance is always necessary and neglect is never beneficial.'
"Pope Francis teaches us that it is not enough to watch over them, and to protect them, we also must be involved in their lives by spending time with them, giving them love, affection and being present in their important moments. In my family, we have made an agreement with my wife that I will work 65 to 70 hours a week so that she can dedicate herself completely to them, accompanying them in their important moments, in their competitions, concerts and shows. Even though I always try to be present, I cannot be at all. I also put on my agenda, appointments to go out with them and have a special time.
"There is much to learn in 'Amoris Laeticia.' In 266, Pope Francis says, 'Good habits need to be developed. Even childhood habits can help to translate important interiorized values into sound and steady ways of acting.' In our house, we promote the habit of prayer in family especially when blessing the food, and before bed. We also promote the habit of dialogue to resolve conflicts and we do it through regular family meetings. We all sit in the living room, we pray and then express our concerns.
"I conclude with chapter 274. 'The family is the first school of human values, where we learn the wise use of freedom.'"