Continuation of how to be a holy good Catholic father and husband.
‘Children must also be formed religiously, which includes learning to pray and developing the habit of daily prayer, fidelity to and proper use of the Sacraments, sacramentals, devotions, and other means of grace until they are well formed in piety. Trained in this way, they will stand on guard more readily and manfully against the suggestions of indulgence which initiation into worldly and bodily pleasures ceaselessly propose.
As for the subject matter itself, the instruction ought to include the diversity of the sexes, its origin from God and its dignity, the beginning of life in plants and animals, the organs of reproduction (obviously done with somecare), the functions of maternity and paternity, the grave reasons that demand sexual morality be observed, respect for women, the great sinfulness and harm of self-abuse, the meaning of puberty in both sexes, the possibility of healthfulness of continence and self-control, the moral dangers of the world and the social diseases to be guarded against.
Clearly not all of these concepts can be imparted at one time, for young children would not understand or there would be scandal of little ones. Moreover, while fiction and exaggeration should be avoided, a strictly scientific and technical instruction is not necessary or generally advisable either. It is clear also that parents, and especially mothers, are naturally suited for the delicate task of early guardians of chastity, though the later instruction should be supplemented by sound sermons, solid catechism classes, and individual advice given in the confessional.
Correction. – The duty of correction consists in rectifying the child of his defects, in protecting him against scandal, and in watching over his friendships. The child is full of defects; his vices grow with age. The main point is to detect them at the start in order to mitigate them and then always to be watchful towards preventing their growth.
In order to be fair, the correction of a child should be calm. The correction that is administered in an outburst of indignation or ill-temper does more harm than good (this point can hardly be stressed too much).
Correction should be reasonable, that is, proportioned to the offense; yet it is better to be more lenient than too severe as that is God’s way of working with us. The vital thing is to show the youthful offender the reason for the correction and punishment of his fault, and the evil of it, in order to train his mind to hate and shun evil and to esteem and love the good. As every experienced parent knows, a child matures well when the love of virtue and the hatred of vice comes from within.
Correction must be kind. Parental love must always be evident in the correction, even the most severe, so that it may bring about the humble and contrite return of the child, and that the delinquent may never lose sight of the love of his father, who is bound by duty to reprimand and punish him for his own good.
Correction should be dignified. The father is a leader. He should respect and inspire respect for the authority of God vested in him. If he should avoid undue severity— which crushes and discourages—he should still more avoid weakness which breeds contempt. Let the father be dignified in his speech, discreet in action (especially when in public places), noble and patient in hoping for reform, and kind in granting forgiveness.
A father should protect his children against scandal, which awakens in them the dormant idea of evil; it is the father’s compelling duty to shield his children against its fatal strokes. Children’s natural inquisitiveness, ignorance, weakness, and tendency to copy others out of human respect, all make it easy for them to sin and form bad habits.
As the child’s reason develops, the father should caution him prudently but forcefully against the inevitable scandal awaiting him in the world: prudently, by instilling in him a horror of evil, denounced first in general, then more in detail according to the strength of the child’s virtue and the extent of the danger; forcefully, by the power of faith, of love and of honor.
Let the father be strict in his prohibition of dangerous books and other forms of media, (smart phones that parents pay for full of temptation to look at pornography), which leave an indelible impression in the memory. Let him be firm in forbidding bad company; the strongest virtue cannot hold its own very long against this deadly peril.
Happy the child whom a firm and kind hand has guided at the first awakening of his passions and sustained in the midst of his early struggles. He will bless eternally the love that saved him by preserving his virtue from a sad and unfortunate catastrophe. This virtue alone is worth more than all the natural and material goods a father could ever bestow upon his children.
The father must also watch with care over the friendships of his offspring. The heart needs friendship. The child who loves especially his father and mother, and later his brothers and sisters, leads a pure and happy life. Father and mother must unite in their efforts to instill and foster in their children the spirit and love of family life. In this way, children will truly be happy in the midst of their family and seek such happiness in their own future families (either as parents or as religious). Fathers must also be on guard against any division the children may perceive between him and his wife. Children are adept at exploiting parental disagreement to their own advantage. This causes much turmoil between spouses and allows the child to develop a spirit of duplicity and selfishness. A father must, therefore, be vigilant to ‘nip in the bud’ such behavior. He should ensure that any disagreements with his wife are dealt with in private (away from the children) and that he and his wife always present a united front, saying in so many words: “Your mother and I are one: what she commands, I command; if you disobey and disrespect her, then you also disobey and disrespect me.”