How Can We All Rise to the Occasion

By Ty Salvant

Children do what you do, not what you say.

We have all heard that and understand it to some extent. However, sometimes we forget just how much and what our children observe.

When we eat the bag of cookies, they are watching. When we are unkind to a friend or family member, they are watching. When we binge-watch a series one weekend, they are watching. When we project an unhealthy or unrealistic image of marriage, they are watching.

They lose faith in us if we tell them that limits are necessary, and we do not overeat just because we like a portion of food. They find us hypocritical if we stress the importance of kindness, yet we are rude, dismissive or judgmental of others. They challenge us when we ridicule them for playing a game all day or weekend and witness us doing the same thing. They question us when we are unable to provide a safe home environment. They doubt themselves when at odds with a partner, because they did not observe healthy examples of managing conflict.

Rather than attempting to depict a perfect image, be natural with your children. They see behind the curtain. They know when discrepancies lie between our words and actions. Share struggles and successes in all of your life – personal, spiritual, financial and professional – but not in an unhealthy way. Say, if you took a new job with a pay cut and could not afford a vacation, telling your children is better than going into debt or making up excuses for the change. Likewise, if you had a conversion and are making different life choices, explaining that to your children is better than changing house rules with no rationale.

Our children are dynamic little people; allow them to rise to the occasion. On Sep. 25, it’s Family Day throughout the archdiocese. It will be a time to reflect on how we can all “Rise to the Occasion.” We will be asked how we can improve familial relationships and build an authentic friendship culture in our parish and neighborhood. Share your thoughts and suggestions; your example might encourage or inspire another family.


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