Growing up in the Kmiecik home is totally unfair! Just ask my children. They’ll insist that sometimes their parents are unreasonable and controlling. One reason being that they set limits on their screen time. Even though my boys are teenagers and obviously know what is best for themselves. “Mom, you think we play too many video games? You have no idea! Everyone else spends way more time gaming than we do!”
Conversations like these remind me of a recent email a friend sent me containing a reflection on this very issue. She wrote that when she and her siblings complained that “everyone else” was doing something, her parents always responded that they “don’t belong to everyone else, they belong to God.” She went on to explain that to belong to God means to be holy, which is to be set apart, distinct, or different. I realize that different is the last thing that my teenagers want to be, but it is necessary if they want to follow Jesus, so they may as well get used to it now. It doesn’t get easier to be different as you grow older.
Every Christian family is called to be holy, to set ourselves apart from the rest of society by how we act, how we use our time and resources, and most importantly, how we love. This is easier said than done, however, and it feels like we’re rowing a canoe against the current. But small, gradual changes can help to create new holy habits in our homes.
It starts with an awareness of our purpose, both as individuals and as family units. According to the first paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, God calls man to seek him, know him, and love him with all his strength. So everything we do should funnel through this calling. If a particular activity or item doesn’t aid us in seeking, knowing or loving God, then it probably shouldn’t have a place in our domestic church.
St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, gives us sound guidance as to where our focus should be when raising our families. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil 4:8) These are the foundations that our domestic churches should be built on; things that are pure, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise. Reflecting on that passage, I realize that I have some housecleaning to do!
I remember all too well how it feels to stand out as a teenager. What I didn’t realize was how difficult it must have been for my parents to raise us that way. My own children probably won’t understand until they’re grown, how hard it is for me to witness their struggles, even though I know struggles are a necessary part of growing in holiness. I pray often for strength and wisdom on this wonderful journey of parenthood, and I know that God will always give me what I need!
“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)