The Beginning of the School Year:
Some Questions for Parents to Think About

The summer is over, the vacation has been taken, new clothes and school supplies have been purchased, the children are ready to go back to school and parents are ready for them to go back! It's the same scenario each August. It's time to get back into a routine! The same goes for Church and Church School classes.

There are some areas related to our children's education that parents need to concern themselves, areas that have to do with their relation to the church and their spiritual and moral lives. Below are a number of reflection questions. Read each question and answer it honestly. Since this is also the "New Year" for the Church, perhaps some of these could be "New Year's Resolutions" for your family.
Are you more conscientious about getting your son or daughter to Boy Scout or Campfire Girl meetings than about getting him/her to Church School on Sundays?
Are you concerned about your child's spiritual nourishment as much as you are about his/her physical nourishment?
When you are taking your child to Holy Communion, do you set the example by receiving yourself?
Do you let your child get away with contrived excuses for not attending the services of the Church? Do you look for every excuse yourself? Do you teach your child that it does not matter whether you go to Church or not?
Do you show your child by your example that other activities, such as sports and recreation, are more important than the Divine Liturgy?
Do you encourage your child to be generous by being generous yourself? Does your giving to the Church and your lending help to others reflect generosity or selfishness?
Do you challenge your teenage child to keep his/her purity because it is God's will to do so? When you talk to your teenager about sexual matters, are you practical and sophisticated about it, or do you teach what the Gospel says about fornication? Are you afraid to call sexual promiscuity sinful?
Are you concerned enough about your child's morals to keep him/her from watching TV shows in which extra-marital sex and divorce are presented as normal facts of life?
Do you really expect your children to be polite and respectful to older people? Does it matter to you when your child either refuses to speak to an adult or answers with a curt "yup" or "nope"? Are you pleased when your child talks back to an adult because you think that person deserves it?
Do you defend your child even when he is wrong in something he has done or said? Do you refrain from correcting your child for fear that she will leave home?
Do you talk about your neighbor or some member of the church in your child's presence?
Do you think it is cute for your child to use bad language he/she has picked up outside the home? Has he/she heard the same words at home?
When your company offers you a new job and a higher salary for moving to another city, do you concern yourself about whether there is an Orthodox Church there or not?

There are parents today who do not believe that being Christians obliges them and their children to be different. If we want to bring our children up in the Orthodox Church, we need to understand that they will indeed be different, and that it's a good difference! Are we so afraid that their observance of Christian standards of behavior will make them odd or strange, and that we do not want that whatever the cost, even if that cost more often than not is estrangement from the Church?

© 1997 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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