In Defense of Overprotective Parenting by April Yeager

Advice from the saints and a compelling and well written article,

I will share it here in it's entirety because I want a copy of it. Anything in color will be my emphasis.

The Case for Purity: In Defense of Overprotective Parenting
by April Yeager on November 3, 2010

Today while waiting in line at the grocery store, I saw these titles at the checkout line: “Real Women, Really Naked,” “50-Page Body Love Special,” “Bad Girl Sex,” “Own His Orgasm,” and “Am I Normal Down There?” Don’t be shocked; this is not behind-the-counter porn at a Circle K. This is proudly displayed at every local Safeway, Albertsons, Fry’s, Bashas’ and Walmart checkout counter. I’m beginning to think “checkout counter” has taken on a new meaning. (This is one of the reasons why my husband prefers to do the food shopping as he does not want our children seeing these publications in the check-out line.)

After years of turning the covers over in the stands, I finally discovered the publishers are on to me and every other disgusted shopper. Flip a magazine and on the back you will see another purposefully placed provocative ad! Calculated move on the part of the publishers? Sex sells, so you decide.

Sex is everywhere. It’s not just in the movie theatres; it’s on television, in grocery stores, on bus stops, on billboards, on mall signage, on morning shows and midday radio, in the newspaper, in direct mail, on the internet, in video games, in public restrooms; it’s even represented at our eating establishments. For highly suggestive restaurant names, Hooters is almost G-rated—have you and your kids ever driven past Scottsdale’s the Pink Taco? (We notice this too...everywhere and it is so tiring and force-fed!)

How does this possibly play out in the minds of our children? Our culture of death isn’t just destroying babies in the womb; it is destroying the finely formed purity of our youth. Purity is taking a beating to the point of death.

Solution: the Overprotective Parents Club, of which my husband and I are proud members. Many great saints have preached about the protection of our little ones, and how crucial this is to their souls. Yet today, I am often confronted by many reactions: from total dismissal to being accused of poor parenting. The thought is that we must expose our children gradually to the world, seizing these opportunities for open discussion, rather than sheltering them and thus plunging them later into a shocking reality which will definitely lead them to sin. This openness reaches as far as the public/parochial high school classroom, where the study of 20th century literature laced with descriptive, perverse scenes is considered intellectually broadening, not to mention a necessary preparation for the SAT. I don’t buy it, and I debate this all the time.

While I concur that certain virtues only develop and grow if we allow ourselves to face situations of moral conflict, I do not think this means allowing a 12- or even a 17-year-old to view an R-rated movie, or a 9-year-old to tune into their weekly favorite, “Desperate Housewives.” How can they be equipped to virtually choose to walk away if they are being desensitized? Moreover, how can they walk away when their parents don’t?

St. John Bosco, the revered Italian saint who took in and raised abandoned boys from the streets, lived an exemplary life of purity, safeguarding the boys from all impure occasions of sin. “Keep this in mind”, he once told them, “Morality! That’s what really matters. Safeguard morality! Put up with everything—liveliness, impudence, thoughtlessness—but never tolerate the offense of God and especially the vice contrary to purity. Be truly on the alert in this regard. Concentrate all attention on the boys entrusted to you.” His promptings to insure purity included sheltering the boys from all near occasion of sin, and frequent use of the sacraments, especially reconciliation and reception of Holy Eucharist. Additionally, St. John Bosco added that even language that may arouse unchaste thoughts was to be completely avoided. “Let such words not even be mentioned among you,” he said. He went so far as to use the term “purity” over “chastity” when teaching, as he considered “purity” to be more comprehensive and less suggestive.

Zelie Martin, mother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, recalled many instances in her letters of protecting her children from the near occasion of sin so that they may be presented as saints to God. St. Thérèse herself said that a soul of a child is like softened wax, waiting to receive the imprint of good or evil from the parents who care for it.

Perhaps one of the most powerful documents in print on this subject matter was written as a homily from the great Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Ligouri. In his famous “Advice to Parents,” St. Alphonsus warns that parents, namely fathers, have two obligations to their children: “he is bound to provide for their corporal wants, and to educate them in the habits of virtue.” St. Alphonsus goes on to quote another great Doctor of the Church: “‘We have,’ says Saint John Chrysostom, ‘a great deposit in children, let us attend to them with great care.’ Children have not been given to parents as a present, which they may dispose of as they please, but as a trust, for which, if lost through their negligence, they must render an account to God.”

Let me repeat: “…if lost through their (parents’) negligence, they must render an account to God.” These are powerful words.

We parents need to examine what this means in today’s culture. While we cannot lock our children in a closet, we still must heavily consider what we watch, where we shop, what music we listen to, and what books or magazines are left laying around the house. I recently discovered I can no longer freely listen to my classic Billy Joel CDs with my kids, or they may be singing the line about masturbating and getting high with “Captain Jack.” It may be time to clean up our lives completely, adhering to the age-old adage of practicing what we preach. Nowhere does this adage have more meaning than in parenting our children.

This proposition is tough. The bad stigma today attached to “over sheltering our children” is still very prevalent. In some way, we fear they will not be able to function socially if not regularly integrated into the world and with their peers. However, of the “sheltered children” I know, those that are free from sarcastic humor and exposure to the extreme television and films of today are some of the happiest, with strong self esteem and no “what’s in it for me” attitudes. There is a sense of purity and innocence that surrounds them, and a vigor for God’s kingdom. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t equipped to face today’s culture. Concepts and realities are discussed when older at more age-appropriate times, (like my analogy and post on where battleships are made) and only within the teachings of the Church; not in group settings that may otherwise upset the delicate balance of a child/youth’s journey with God.

There was a story I once heard about two priests who gazed upon a naked woman. The first priest, solidly chaste and undaunted by this type of temptation, admired her great beauty and suffered no lustful thoughts. The second was drawn into the physical temptation and immediately suffered lustful thoughts. In the minds of our children, what is the chance that they will react like the undaunted priest? What’s the chance that they may be led into sin through their active imaginations? It’s impossible to know what private and undeveloped propensity they may struggle from. At what age are they no longer impressionable and able to make the virtuous choice? Rather than err on the wrong side of these questions and answers, I’m not willing to take any chances.

We must all try to do the best we can within the confinements of our lives and circumstances. If possible, let’s come at this world from a different angle by sheltering our children from the realities of our over-sexualized society. Nurture them to grow deeply in love with Christ.

* Talk about sacrifice.
* Help them to offer their own sacrifices as precious jeweled gifts to Jesus.
* Take them regularly to Adoration and let them write love letters to Jesus.
* Get rid of the television. (less of this)
* Filter the computer.
* Limit texting and cell phone usage to avoid exposure to “sexting” and other technological pornographic realities. (NONE of this)
* Discuss the world through proper Church teachings, and only when you, the parents, deem that the time is right.
* Be willing to say “no” every time to your children when they beg to see the most popular film or television program that (almost always) promotes sex, violence, and any other controversial subject as good and normal.
* Watch carefully over what your little ones see, and take note of all Disney and other film scenes you think are going over their heads.

Let’s raise our “sheltered” kids into a generation of holy Catholic adults, pure of heart and mind. These future adults will be strengthened by their upbringing, no longer willing to go with the flow of our over-sexualized culture. Let’s introduce them to what really is true, good and beautiful, challenging them to read and actively use their minds, so that they know and recognize the true, the good and the beautiful. All else will pale in comparison and they will choose to shelter their eyes from today’s debauchery.

Only when we stop allowing the desensitization of our kids will the desensitization stop.


Jen @ Forever, For Always... said...

This is so true. No matter how challenging it gets we must persevere. Even when it feels like it is coming at us from all sides ( and it is!) we can't give up! Thanks for posting.

Suzanne said...

I LOVE this article! Spot on with every point. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Kristyn said...

Linking to this, BTW. Hope it's all right. :)

Nadja Magdalena said...

Very good. I find that the older my kids get, the more pressure I have to use to put my foot down. I hate to have battles over everything, and I hate to be "the bad guy" all the time, but I remind myself that there will be no second chances with their purity...

Mom2Seven said...

Excellent post! It is very hard to protect our children, and "it" creeps in from everywhere! You always have such good, informative, and thought-provoking posts! +JMJ+ said...

Amen! Catching up with your blog a little late, but Amen!!!

atara said...


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