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Catholic Northwest Progress
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February 28, 1964     Catholic Northwest Progress
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February 28, 1964

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6--THE' PROGRESS Friday, Feb. 28, 196.4 Christian Culture Series (Chapter Xl ) Togetherness in The Family By REV. DENNIS MUEHE, M.S.W. THE PHIL O'Loane family of Sacred Heart Parish, Bellevue, work together out-of-doors. They are from left, Mrs. O'Loane, Mr. O'Loane, Phil, a Seattle Prep student and president of his parish CYO club; Dennis, who attends Sacred Heart School, and Sue, a student at Holy Names Academy. O'Loane is general manager of West Coast Paper Co. and teaches a seventh grade CCD class. The O'Loane home is at 9439 N.E: 14th St., Bellevue. ::::::::::.::: :.:: , : :,:::: Rev. Dennis Muehe, M.S.W., Archdiocesan Director, Department of Social Service and Catholic Charities IlE old-fashioned, almost idyllic, concept of togetherness in the family shatters completely when we add the noise, the moodiness, the too loud rock and roll and the long, long telephone conversa- tions that typify the modern teenager. There are precious few par- ents who find their teenage children a constafit joy to be with and there are precious few teenagers who are a joy to be with all the time. Teenagers, . however, appear to be with us to stay. The Census Bureau tells us that there are a million more 17 year olds than 16 year olds in our country today, and almost a million more 16 year olds than 15 year olds. The decreasing chances for these young peo- ple to enter the labor market in this age of technology means that they are going to be around the house for a lot longer than they were less than a generation ago. There is talk now of providing free college education to every child, and before long The Progress may have to run a series of articles on the need of children in their early twenties for parents. Perhaps if we lived in the simple, primitive culture of the Fiji Islands we wouldn't have to worry about togetherness in the home. We are told that children there marry at the age of 14 or 15 and start homes of their own. Unfortunately, we know all too well that such marriages in our own country, even if they are contracted at a slightly more advanced age most often cannot and do not work. I am sure that it is not a case of our children being less mature. It is simply that they must fit themselves into a vastly more complex culture. They need more education to compete for jobs. They need more time to find out what they can and ought to do with their lives. They cannot be content with the simple ideal that the great- est value in life is to be a brave warrior and a good homemaker. Even these simple ideals are no longer simple in our society when we consider the complexity of our military structure and the even greater complexity of the modern kitchen. The complexity of our culture is magnified even more by the great variety of conflicting values and goals among which a teen- ager must choose. It is difficult even for parents to hold on to sim- ple Christian ideals. You have already heard a great deal about the materialism of the age in which we live. The simple fact is that at sometime or other a teenager must clarify his own ideals, his own standards, his own goals. And he will be around the house until he does. If parents have been fortunate enough to imbue their chil- dren with good strong values before they reach adolescence they will find that their teenage children have far less trouble when it comes time to re-evaluate and to re-stablish thir own ideals. The better formed and the more positive these ideals are the easier it is for the adolescent to apply them to his own life as he lives it at the time and as he foresees it for the future. HE fact remains, however, that teenagers are with us and, in fact, that they need their families. They simply cannot be cut J loose and left to drift for themselves and I think there is hardly any parent who does not realize this. We are bound to have "to- getherness" with teenagers in our families and we might as well make the most of it and, more than that, help our teenagers make the most of it. The first and most practical problem that comes to mind is simply getting along with teenagers in the home. There are no easy solutions to the problems that this idea presents and there are, perhaps, as many ways of doing this as there are families. Each family finds its own modus vivendi or way of living with its teen- age members. It is not a bad idea to have a plan, however, particu- larly when we consider all the things that a child has to accomplish during adolescence and all of the forces that are pulling children away fromtheir homes. " I certainly do not intend to suggest that children have always to be part of one big happy family in the sense that families must do all kinds of things together like going on picnics and rides on Sundays. To most adolescents these ideas are somewhat revolting and, quite frankly, I think they can sometimes spoil an otherwise very pleasant outing. Nevertheless, there are certain areas of family activity where some group consideration and planning are necessary. We might begin with a word about family conferences. Most families have family conferences whether they are formal or informal and whether they come at regular intervals or not. There seems no set way to hold such conferences but they are helpful if only to make sure that everyone has a chance to be heard and to hear the thoughts of other members of the family on any given subject. At least they are one way for families to plan together. Coming to specific activities we might begin with family en- tertainment. Teenagers should be able to provide, at least to a EEN:AGERS NEED Pl REN!S great extent, for their own entertainment. Most teenagers, however, enjoy such things as family skiing trips, vacation trips to the seashore or mountains, and those more or less expensive and sophisticated types of family activities. Many even enjoy the simpler kind of family get:togethers. I have always been impressed with the type of parents who go skiing themselves and just sort of take the children along to enjoy themselves. It is important for parents to pursue their own activities with vigor but, on occasion, let them include their children in their plans. Parents who lead an active, vigorous life are bound to trans- mit this vitality to their children. A well planned program of en- tertainment which includes the children in a positive way is bound to help them learn to entertain themselves and use their leisure time in an equally positive way. HEN, of course, there is the matter of the various members of the family working together in the home. Many parents find it helpful at least occasionally to let their children work with them rather than merely sending them off to do a task by themselves. You know how long it will take a young man to mow .the lawn, for example, if he is sent to do it by himself. The idea is good, honest work is far better transmitted to a child when he works along with his parents in the tasks to be done around the home. Don't get me wrong. I certainly do believe that children should be given tasks to do by themselves but I do think it is important that children work with their parents if the children are to learn how to work consistently and well toward completing a simple task. Regarding work outside the home, it is important for teenagers to realize that their earnings must also help support the family. I am sure that most parents make their children responsible for some of their own clothing and their school and social activities. Study time is also most important and even this can be an activity where togetherness plays a role. If academic excellence is a goal that you have set for your teenagers it is important that you create in your home an atmosphere where this is both necessary and possible. A little planning here with regard to time and place is entirely in line. Finally, we come to the important , matter of family prayer. This appears to be about the most difficul*, thing for families to fit into their busy schedule .but, of course, the reams and reams that have been written about its importance are 100% correct. Quite apart from the grace of God that prayer brings to a family I can think of no better way to transmit genuine religious ideals than through family prayer. AM sure that you can think of other areas where families must plan together for living together. Somehow or other most faro, flies arrive at some more or less specific set of ground rules. must never forget, however, that the purpose of all this togetherness is to transmit to our youth those ideals which we most value, ideals of industry, of learning, of integrity and, above all, of respect for God's Law. Whether or not there is a lot of old-fashioned together- ness in a family, there is what we can call a spiritual togetherness. Children do identify themselves with their parents and do learn from them the important values of life and how life is to be lived. We are told that a child reaches the age of reason when he is 7 years old. This means that he has absorbed a number of ideas of what is right and wrong in the conducof and is able to judge his own actions against these StandhrdS. Adblescefice is a time of sometimes agonizing reappraisal of all these ideas. A teacher in school, a close friend, lis Church, all will con- tribute new ideals which must be evaluated and absorbed or re- jected. But most of all it is from the home that these ideals come. They will be looking critically at their parents and sometimes will even say things that are critical and cutting. Nevertheless,, they must make this re-evaluation and set the course of their lives them- selves. '" . However Well parents work 0uta method of:living with their teenage children and no matter'how formally or informally this method is carried out children are;very much parts of their families, and the ideals of the family become very much part of them: What- ever of these ideals may be stressed in a given family they must include that element of respect for God's Law. Whether or not you want your child to be a scholar, or an athlete, or a "vigorous man" like John F. Kennedy, make sure that you want him to be the kind of man who respects God's Law and lives his life according to it no matter what the difficulties. .......... : You do this first and foremost by living a good, Christian life together with them. Something To Talk About... I. Aside from religious ideals, what kind of ideals and goals do most families in America have for their children? 2. Are these goals and ideals sometimes in conflict with what we call the Christian Ideal? 3. What are some of the ways you have discovered to with" teenagers in your home. How important is it to your family I that these definite rules be spelled out? 4. The author mentions these areas where some group plan- ning is done in the family: entertainment, work, study, prayer. Can you think of other areas which should be considered? Chapter Xll will be "Is God an Afterthought in Your Home?" by Mr. and Mrs. Vilem Sokol. 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