Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

cram_halfThis column contains the rantings of an irate parent. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

"But Mom, why can’t I see PG-13 movies? I’m almost 13!" whines an unnamed child in my house some years back.

"What about me?" complains the older brother. "I’m 14!"

I know they won’t like my answer but I give it anyway. "Just because Hollywood says a movie is appropriate, that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate. That’s why."

I was right. They didn’t like my answer.

"Then why can’t I wear halter tops? You’re so old-fashioned!" the first kid wails, attacking on a different front.

"Because they’re not modest," I explain. "Why should every guy at school be invited to stare at your body?"

"Then you should get rid of my curfew," she persists. "You’re treating me like a child!"

I refrain from blurting out the obvious, that she is a child. Instead I simply state, "Because I love you."

"I think it’s because you hate me!" she cries as she storms off.

Sigh.  Am I alone in the universe?

MTV. Internet chat rooms. Glossy teen magazines that teach techniques for sexy getaways with your boyfriend.

Parenting is not for wimps.

A few years ago, I was discussing school business with another room mother when she mentioned an action movie that had recently hit theaters. This woman was quite concerned that my daughter was the only kid in the class who had not seen the movie.

"But, it’s rated PG-13," I remarked, sort of stupidly. I mean, these kids were in kindergarten.

"It’s not that bad," the woman replied defensively. "You don’t actually see the monster bite off the kid’s head. You just hear a child screaming, ‘Mommy! Mommy! Help me!’ and then blood squirts out. You really should let your daughter see it. I’m sure she doesn’t want to be left out."

Left out? Was she kidding? These kids were 5 years old!

That same year my fifth grader attended a birthday party that began with a seance and levitation. Following this "entertainment," a group of kids locked a panic-stricken girl in a pitch black garage, then took turns swinging bats against the metal door to terrorize her. The festivities were topped by an R-rated movie. The parents thought the party was a great success. The children had nightmares.

Movies happen to be an especially hot topic with me. God makes us responsible for the images that we invite into our children’s minds, and I don’t want those minds filled with blood-spattered bodies and illicit unions. I don’t even want them watching marital unions, because intimacy is not a spectator sport. It’s an incredible gift from God meant to be shared within marriage and without an audience. When we fill our children’s minds with impurity, they begin to think impurity is acceptable.

This is true for adults as well. Contrary to popular opinion, pornographic Web sites and magazines are not harmless amusement. The images cling to our memory, cloud our judgment and alter our attitudes. If there are teens in the house, I guarantee that the pornography will make its way into the hands of the very youth we are supposed to be protecting.

Oh dear. I do get on my soap box. I just want our kids to grow up with healthy minds and hearts.

So, forget the blood-stained movie screens. Forget Sunday morning soccer clinics and Britney Spears fashions. Choose instead purity and simplicity. Find a Catholic youth group for your teens, and send them to a Steubenville East Youth Conference during the summer. They need to see other teens who are alive in the faith.

Raising kids is a tough job. So if you find yourself sitting near a squawking baby or squirmy child at Mass, remember that those parents have made the courageous decision to be there. Believe me, it’s easier to stay home. And when you see a teenager in line for Communion sporting a head of green hair and a nose ring, remember that he’s at Mass rather than asleep in bed. Instead of shooting them dirty looks, tell the parents what a great job they’re doing. It’s not an easy world out there, and parenting is definitely not for wimps.

Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer.