Providing a Catholic framework on the truth and meaning of sexuality, love, and family
Connect

Archive for July, 2011

Mental Illness in the Family

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

( The following is excerpted from a longer article)

The Role of Family Members

Family members are central to helping and healing those with mental illness. Some of the ways in which they can help include the following:

Get treatment promptly

It does no good, and may do a lot of harm, to delay getting appropriate treatment from a skilled mental health professional for a family member who, there is good reason to believe, is mentally ill. Psychotherapy given early in the course of a mental disease, before it becomes deep-seated and less easily treated, will yield quicker and better results. Medication administered by a skilled physician may reverse psychotic or other bizarre behavior, assist the brain to heal, and improve the effectiveness of psychotherapy. Failure to provide needed treatment only increases the possibility that mentally ill persons may harm themselves or others. Those who need advice on where to go for treatment should discuss the matter with a trusted advisor . other family members, the family doctor, or a knowledgeable friend.

Show forth additional love and compassion

If family members ridicule, demean, criticize, or abandon the victim involved; if they go on and on about supposed (and usually false) sin and blame; if they are judgmental and censorious, I guarantee the patient will not do well. But if they love and enfold, if they refuse to judge, if they are kind, compassionate and empathetic, then therapy exerts its full beneficial effects.

Provided patients are not a threat to themselves or others, and do not require intensive nursing care, a loving home may be the best place for healing to occur. There the patient feels safe, secure and in the presence of those who really care in ways that professional detachment forbids. Psychiatric wards in hospitals remain necessary, but in my admittedly limited experience they are often frightening and foreboding places, which do little to calm and reassure many patients. They may provide little of the intensive treatment needed by seriously ill patients.

A word of caution is necessary. Home may not be the best place for mentally ill patients if there are small children there, who require constant care or may be frightened and influenced by a mentally ill family member. Further, the turmoil and hubbub in many busy homes may be excessively disturbing to some mentally ill persons.

Family members soon learn that developing and unfailingly demonstrating patience is a large part of love and compassion. Patience must be developed if one is to deal effectively with the seemingly endless ebb and flow of illness, the apparently never-ending routine of one step forward and another backward, the constant vigilance required of those who are caregivers for patients who may be in danger of suicide. Patience is needed to guard against the tendency to get out of sorts with the person who is sick, and whose sickness causes eddies of pain in the lives of others. Remember that no one with mental illness wants to be that way. People are not mentally ill because they lack willpower. They cannot, through any exercise of will, get out of the predicament they are in. To lose patience with them, to advise them to “just snap out of it” and “get a little backbone” is not only insensitive, but futile.

Anyone who has ever witnessed the almost unbearable pain and uncontrollable weeping of a severe panic attack, or the indescribable sadness of a severely depressed person who cries all day and retreats into hopeless apathy, would never think for a moment that mental illness is just a matter of willpower.

At the same time that we must learn to be patient with ourselves and with the victim of mental illness, we also must learn to be patient with God. When prayers are not answered as we had hoped so fervently, when our timetable is not that of the Almighty, when we are called upon to treat the winepress of affliction alone, it becomes seductively easy to grow angry with God, to feel He has abandoned us. Pain and patience are uneasy partners at best. But it is in learning to endure whatever mortality brings us – including the vicarious suffering we experience at the pain of loved ones – that we find the key which opens the door to celestial halls.

Family members must then learn to put their trust in God. No matter if our path be strewn with thorns, no matter how onerous our struggle through mists of darkness and torrents of tears, God will succor and sustain us. Learning that lesson is at best a stern struggle. It involves tutorial suffering and stretching. But it is the only path to peace, amidst the pain and suffering, the loneliness, depression and despair of mental illness.

Those who suffer from mental illness, who are burdened with pain, depression, and confusion, must, I believe, be especially on guard against the devil and his agents. So too must the circle of loving family members and other caregivers.

Learn all you can about mental illness and how to deal with it

Family members of mentally ill persons will love better as they learn more about the causes of mental illness and the suffering it brings. Their compassion for the victim will increase, and they will be less judgmental and censorious. They will grow more patient and forbearing. They will begin to see mental illness for what it is – a disease of the brain, not of the spirit, a malady caused not by sin, but by problems in the working of the most complex structure of the body. They will grow thankful for medical and other therapeutic interventions which have revolutionized treatment of mental illness in the last four decades, and will look forward with hope to the rapidly approaching day when treatment will be more specific and more effective than ever.

As family members struggle to learn and understand mental illness, they will find that their insight will grow exponentially if they simultaneously succor the life of the spirit. As they do so, scriptures will become more meaningful, prayer sweeter, contemplation more attuned to the Divine. As they draw closer to God and put their lives, and that of their loved one, in His hands, they will find that they are never alone. They will come to realize, as perhaps never before, the price which Christ paid that He may know more perfectly how to personally sustain us through the seasons of our trials.

Encourage the person who is ill

Persons with mental illness, who often are worn down and disheartened by pervasive feelings of hopelessness, need encouragement and hope for the future. This must be realistic: “Pie in the sky” advice will lead only to discouragement, a sense of betrayal, and increased cynicism. But there are sold grounds for optimism in nearly every instance. The victim can with total assurance be reminded often of God’s love, of the unfailing love of family members, and of the reality of eternal family relationships. There is hope, too, that the therapeutic future will be brighter for sufferers of mental illness of all types.

Mentally ill persons should be encouraged to continue to pray . and fulfill other religious obligations as they can. They will never benefit more from God’s presence in their lives than now. They should be encouraged to do the ordinary little things that provide meaning to life – to appreciate the beauties of nature, complete appropriate tasks, and exercise. Such encouragement may help the afflicted person decide to cooperate more fully with treatment, gain self-esteem, even to work harder in therapy and be more diligent in taking prescribed medication.

Maintain a life of your own

If family members are to be of the most help to a loved one afflicted with mental illness, they must maintain a life of their own. They owe that to themselves, to the sufferer, to those in their family who are not sick, to friends and business associates, even to God. And so, somehow, in the midst of the turmoil and stress, constant worry, time and financial pressures, and all else that bears down upon them, they must find time, even if only for a few minutes daily, to recharge their own reservoirs of strength. They may be rejuvenated by reading a rood book, practicing a hobby or listening to uplifting music. Quiet discussions with trusted friends, a telephone call to a family member, or an hour of service of service to others in a setting away from the patient may be helpful.

© 2006 Marriage and Families, used by permission.

What Influence Do Parents Have on Teen Sex?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

In November of 2005, the Family Research Council issued an Executive Summary titled “Abstinence Until Marriage: The Best Message for Teens,” by Bridget E. Maher. Here is an excerpt, quoted from the section titled Parental Influence on Teen Sex

“What influences teens to have sex? There are many factors, including sexually explicit messages in the media, peer pressure, alcohol and drugs. However, parents also play a major role in whether or not their teen will have sex. In a 2001 poll, 49 per cent of teenagers said their parents influenced their decisions about sex most strongly. [18]”

“Parents affect teens’ sexual decision making by their marital status, attitudes, supervision, and involvement in their children’s lives. A 2000 study of national data found that adolescents living with both of their parents were less likely to engage in sexual activity than those living with single parents. [19] Also, a 1994 study found that teens living in a single parent home at age 14 were more likely to engage in sexual activity and to have sexual intercourse more frequently. [20]”

“Parental attitudes toward sex also greatly affect teen sexual behavior. A 1996 study of black adolescents ages 14 to 17 revealed that those who believed their mothers disapproved of adolescent sexual behavior either abstained from sex or had sexual intercourse less frequently. The authors of the study emphasized that ‘parents need to be firm in their emphasis on abstinence if they wish to discourage their teenage son or daughter from engaging in sexual intercourse.’ [21] The Adolescent Health Study also confirmed the importance of maternal disapproval of sex. Among 8th-11th graders, ‘when teens perceive that their mother strongly disapproves of them having sex, they are more likely to delay initial sexual intercourse.’ [22]”

“Parental supervision and emotional connectedness between parents and teens play a big role in whether or not teens engage in sexual activity. A 1994 study found that teens living in neighborhoods where most parents work full time and provide less supervision were more likely to have sex. [23] Studies have also confirmed the importance of parent-child connectedness. A 1997 longitudinal health study of 12,000 adolescents found that teens were more likely to delay intercourse when they felt emotionally connected to their parents and when their parents disapproved of their being sexually active or of using contraception. [24] The Adolescent Health Study also found that ‘high levels of mother-child connectedness are independently related to delays in first sexual intercourse among 8th and 9th grade boys and girls and among 10th and 11th grade boys.’ [25]”

Footnotes
International Communications Research for National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, as cited in “Faithful Nation: What American Adults and Teens Think About Faith, Morals, Religion and Teen Pregnancy,” National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, September, 2001.
19 John S. Santelli et al, “The Association of Sexual Behaviors with Socioeconomic Status, Family Structure and Race/Ethnicity Among U.S. Adolescents,” American Journal of Public Health 90 (October 200): 1582-1588.
20 John O.G. Billy et al, “Contextual Effects of the Sexual Behavior of Adolescent Women,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 56 (May, 1994): 387-404.
21 James Jaccard, Patricia J. Dittus and Vivian V. Gordon, “Maternal Correlates of Adolescent Sexual and Contraceptive Behavior,” Family Planning Perspectives 28 (July/August 1996): 159-165, 185.
22 Robert W. Blum, “Mothers’ Influence on Teen Sex: Connections That Promote Postponing Sexual Intercourse,” Center for Adolescent Health and Development, University of Minnesota, 2002, 16.
23 John O.G. Billy et al, “Contextual Effects of the Sexual Behavior of Adolescent Women”
24 Michael D. Resnick et al, “Protecting Adolescents from Harm: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health,” Journal of American Medicine 278 (September 10, 1997): 823-832.
25 Robert W. Blum, “Mothers’ Influence on Teen Sex: Connections That Promote Postponing Sexual Intercourse,” 18.

Understanding Child Development

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

As part of Family Honor’s mission, we are constantly looking for ways to help parents and children communicate, understand each other and form healthy, happy, holy families. One of the ways we try to do this is through our DVD-based training course for adult men and women, The Principles of Teaching Family-Centered Chastity Education . Significant portions of the course are devoted to topics such as fertility appreciation, theology of the body, effective communication, theories of child development and family life. Below are separate excerpts from the sections of the course on Child Development and also Childhood Needs, Obstacles and Help.

John Gardner and Child Development

One of the course’s required readings is the article “The Opportunity of Adolescence” by John Gardner. His essay on the challenge and opportunity of adolescence mirrors Freud’s thought. Gardner says two polar powers are in conflict in adolescence – the desire to join, combine and become one with another and the desire to distinguish oneself – stand apart and “fashion the gift” – to bring oneself to birth. Until a young person can sound his or her own clear note, the individual is unable to discover the soul that matches his own.

Gardner proposes that the best preparation for this stage of adolescence is a family life and school environment where instruction is directed toward how to love- knowing what it means to be a loving person and practicing loving acts.

According to Gardner, in puberty, chastity or continence is not repression or suspended animation, but growth, flowering, bearing fruit. Chastity slays the disordered desire to serve self so that the transcendent, mysterious, supernatural phenomenon of our sexuality can come to its fullest expression in pure love that brings life, peace, and joy into human lives.

Impure expressions of sexual desire remain impure. Marriage doesn’t sanctify impure sex because it has not been transformed by love – a sincere gift of self and the receiving of the gift of the other.

Adolescents who learn chastity are happier, more active, healthier and more creative. Sexual activity before this readiness for a covenant relationship has occurred can become exploitation, with the consequence of diminished vitality, despair and loss of hope in the power of sex.

Materialistic sex education makes sex utilitarian – reasonably used for maximum self-gratification – and limits sex to an activity that gives pleasure, like eating or recreation. It misses the mystery, the transforming and transcendental power of this God given gift.

Needs, Obstacles and Help During the Three Stages of Childhood and Adolescence

Middle Years – Sexual Awareness – Is my body good? What is the meaning of my body?

Need – The child’s need at this stage is to continue to have a positive body image and ask questions about fertility, conception, pregnancy and childbirth. The beginning of puberty takes precedence toward the end of this stage and the child begins to wonder about changes in his or her body and the meaning of sexuality. The child’s need is met when a parent anticipates the child’s readiness and provides information as well as values that communicate the goodness of sexuality.

Obstacle – An obstacle may be a parent who has a sense of shame about his or her own body or is uncomfortable talking to her child and leaves the task of communication about sexuality to another adult.

Help – A parent who is uncomfortable talking with his child or answering questions can increase his comfort level and confidence through educational resources, or seek out a program he can attend or work through with his child.

Needs, Obstacles and Help During the Three Stages of Childhood and Adolescence

Middle Years – Moral Development – How can I be good?

Need – The middle years are a critical time for conscience formation and character development in the child. Children need to begin to learn and practice virtue as well as well as be nurtured in the beliefs, values and moral code of the family, school, and church. This is the time when children ask and begin to answer the questions, “How can I be a good son or daughter?”; “How can I be a good school citizen?”; “How can I be a good person?” This need is met when a child is praised for being truthful, patient, responsible, hard-working, kind, brave or for any virtuous behavior.

Obstacles – Obstacles to moral formation may be lack of guidance or mixed and confusing messages from adults who have the most influence. A child whose nature is strong-willed or risk-taking may often find himself in trouble and have difficulty seeing himself as a good school citizen, son or person. Unmet needs from the early years for security, competence or separation may delay moral development.

Help – Most importantly, children need positive relationships with parents, teachers, church leaders and other adults who are role models of good character. Parents can take many opportunities to teach their beliefs and moral code as well as hold the child accountable when she transgresses it. The child needs many opportunities to practice virtue and genuine praise when she acts in a virtuous way.

Needs, Obstacles and Help During the Three Stages of Childhood and Adolescence

Middle Years – Separation – Who am I? How am I unique?

Need – During this stage of development children come to realize they have their own thoughts, feelings and opinions. The child realizes that he or she is one of a kind, unique and different from all others. Within the family or group he must define a special identity and know he is appreciated for his uniqueness.

Obstacles – The need for separation and identity not met in the early years may become exacerbated in the middle years as a child with a negative self-image. The child may feel overshadowed by an older sibling or ignored due to the needs of a younger sibling. She may feel she has no special talent or ability on a team or as part of an organization.

Help – Parents and other adults who are loving “mirrors” can reflect to the child his or her unique qualities and talents. Parents can show respect for a child’s feelings, thoughts and opinions by listening and affirming the child even when there are differences of opinion as well as respect the child’s privacy of thoughts and feelings.

Helping Your Teen Navigate the Media with Chastity in Mind

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Chastity means being pure in our thoughts, words and deeds. The images, messages and lessons that we take in everyday can affect the way that we think, speak and act. Research has shown that the average teen absorbs between 7-10 hours of media every day. Just like a good diet helps our body to be healthy, taking in good media helps our soul to be healthy.

But how do we do that? Remember that YOU are the one with the final say in what your child watches and listen to in your home. The many ways youth receive media can be overwhelming. Here are some suggestions for helping your child make good media choices:

  • Seize “teachable moments”. When a song comes on the radio with objectionable content, don’t just criticize or change the channel, discuss why the content is problematic. For example: “This song sounds like what they played at my high school prom. But I think saying ‘I like big butts and I cannot lie’ really emphasizes someone’s physical attributes over the rest of their personhood, don’t you?” This may seem awkward at first, but it will help create more discernment of media in your home.
  • Check your child’s iTunes, iPods and other mp3 devices to see what songs have been downloaded. Click here for instructions on setting parental controls on the iPhone and iTunes. (While it is possible to restrict the content downloaded on your home computer, it is possible for iPods to be synced from other computers, so it’s important to constantly check your child’s device for questionable or dangerous content.)
  • If you use a DVR, monitor the parental controls to limit exposure to movies or television shows with messages that contradict what you would like your child to absorb.
  • If your child is visiting another home, ask parents what media is allowed in their home and how it is monitored. In previous years, slumber parties meant that everyone gathered around a television and watched a VCR recording. Now, it can mean teens gathered around several laptops, iPads, phones with video and internet access and virtually the entire world of media at teen’s fingertips. Ask how teens will be supervised and encourage your teen to leave if they know something is happening that is wrong or dangerous.

Resources for Parents:

Center for Parent/Youth Understanding: A non-profit organization that seeks to help parents better understand the culture of teenagers. They publish an excellent “Youth Culture Update” that is delivered weekly by e-mail and includes a snapshot of youth culture (what’s #1 in music, movies and television) as well as pertinent articles. Subscribe by entering your e-mail here.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: The United States Bishops publish reviews of most movies as they are released in limited or general circulation. They have their own criteria for rating movies that take into consideration the messages the movies are conveying, not just how many times a certain word is said. The USCCB’s movie reviews are archived here. Also on the site are their Top 10 movies of the last several years, some of which may be surprising. Worth a look!

Plugged In: Focus on the Family’s media-review site. It contains helpful reviews of the latest in movies, music, television and other notes on culture and media that parents would find helpful.

Navigating the Media with Chastity in Mind

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Chastity means being pure in our thoughts, words and deeds. The images, messages and lessons that we take in everyday can affect the way that we think, speak and act.

Research has shown that the average teen absorbs between 7-10 hours of media every day. Just like a good diet helps our body to be healthy, taking in good media helps our soul to be healthy.

But how do we do that?

It would be impossible to list all the television shows, movies and songs that you might see or hear even in this one week. However, they will all contain messages-either positive or negative-about your beliefs.

Media is enjoyable, but it may seem like a chore to be constantly listening to what is being said. However, these messages shape how we see the world, each other and our relationships. Just like we wouldn’t eat stale food if we don’t want to get sick, we shouldn’t consume harmful media that might harm our souls.

The best way to monitor this is to form our conscience-our ability to tell right from wrong-through listening to our parents, teachers, pastors, youth ministers and other role models as well as studying further what we don’t understand. It’s also important to pray and receive the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation often. This is a chance to receive God’s forgiveness AND get the strength to do the right thing in the future.

Part of being an adult is doing what’s right not because you might get caught, but because it’s what’s best for you-spiritually, physically, intellectually, creatively, and emotionally (SPICE). Your parents won’t always know what you’re watching, listening to and reading, but by paying attention to the messages you take in, you’ll be able to ensure that you develop your SPICE attributes in a positive way.

Does this mean we can only read the Bible and listen to “church music”? Those are good things to do-but there are also many good messages and lessons to be learned from other sources. Consider each of the SPICE attributes and how they can be helped or hurt by messages in the media.

Doctor Appointments and Your Adolescent Daughter

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Kids grow up really fast. Middle school is full of big events like lockers, sleep-overs, football games and your daughter’s doctor asking her about birth control options.

Wait…  What?

In an office where you used to discuss Flintstone vitamins and Tylenol, your child’s pediatrician or physician will soon be bringing up issues related to their sexuality. The following information can help you prepare, in advance, for the questions that could come up in the doctor’s office.

Remember that even though doctors are experts in medicine, YOU are the expert of your child. Decisions about their vaccinations and which prescription drugs they should take are ultimately yours.


So where to begin?
 

There is discussion about the benefits of teen girls receiving their annual check-ups from their pediatricians as opposed to visiting a gynecologist, and this is a decision that you, as a parent, can make based on the doctors in your area and who you feel comfortable with.

Talk to your daughter’s physician before the visit and ask her what information she plans to share with patients your daughter’s age regarding sexuality. For a list of physicians who will support a pro-abstinence approach, visit this site:http://onemoresoul.com/nfp-directory. Also, don’t hesitate to ask about where they stand on abstinence, chastity and abortion.

Always insist on being with your daughter when she visits her doctor or any health provider. Being prepared for the following discussions helps to convey to your daughter the importance of her sexuality and your concerns about caring for her God-given gift of fertility.

Teen Girls: Preparing for Visit to Your Doctor

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

At Family Honor, you learned that our bodies are a gift from God. As you mature, you’re working on developing your total SPICE—Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative and Emotional—qualities to be a gift to God and others.

Part of developing our Physical Petal is taking care of our bodies through exercise, eating well and regular visits to the doctor. As you enter your teenage years, doctors visits can involve more questions and information than they did when you were younger. It’s important to remember that while doctors know a lot about medicine and health, your mom and dad know the most about YOU.

I remember going to my pediatrician when I was about eleven. My mom had left the room to keep my younger siblings from tearing magazines up in the waiting room. My doctor told me about how I was getting older so if I wanted to ask her questions about sexuality or birth control I could. I was unprepared for this, having only just realized how the whole baby thing worked when my little brother was born.

Here are some things that you should talk about with your mom before your next visit to the doctor.

  • Ask your mom what to expect. You may have heard from your friends or read stories in magazines or on-line, but your mom can fill you in on what will go on with your appointment.
  • If you have questions for your doctor, make a list and go over it with your mom ahead of time. Your family’s medical history can help you understand what to expect.
  • It’s important for your parents to know all the medication you’re taking. Let your parents know everything you take each day. If a coach or counselor gives you something to take, be sure to run it by your parents.

When you go to the doctor, remember that your mom can stay with you the whole time. If your mom’s unable to come, bring an aunt, grandmother or family friend.

Remember, if your doctor suggests things that you’re not sure about, you can go home and talk it over with your parents. You don’t have to make any quick decisions and you can always get a second opinion.

When you go to the doctor, remember that your mom can stay with you the whole time. If your mom’s unable to come, bring an aunt, grandmother or family friend.

Remember, if your doctor suggests things that you’re not sure about, you can go home and talk it over with your parents. You don’t have to make any quick decisions and you can always get a second opinion.

Facebook, Texting, Twittering, Chatting, Blogging – Help!

Monday, July 25th, 2011

This page of our website is designed for parents to provide additional information and resources to help you stay connected with your child and be more competent to give your invaluable guidance. There is a page designed for pre-teens/teens. We encourage you to review the material with your child – or review it yourself first, send your child a link to the page, then talk about it later. We hope you will visit this page regularly as the content will be changing. We know that navigating the maze of social technology can be confusing! New options come out every day—forget keeping up with the Joneses, this feels like keeping up with the Jetsons.
Social Technology Basics

Social technology is technology for social purposes, like facebook, myspace, instant messaging and texting. Social technology is constantly changing, but here are some basic definitions and explanations to get you started:

Cell Phones:
What can be done on a cellphone?

How to be a good friend and a techie!

Monday, July 25th, 2011

“a kind mouth multiplies friends, and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings. Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant…” Sirach 6:5-6

At Family Honor, you’ve learned about what it means to be a good friend and how to love as Christ loves. You learned about the importance of recognizing your true worth and building positive self-esteem in your relationships with family and friends. We do that through communicating with each other, and we have so many ways to communicate! Think about how communication has changed over the years.

“In my days we didn’t have Facebook. We had phone book, but you wouldn’t spend an afternoon on it…” –Betty White

Your grandparents used letters and the telephone. Your parents used letters and the telephone and then learned about something called e-mail. You have many, many more options. Cell phones, texting, Instant Messaging, Facebook. All of these are tools to help you keep up with your friends. They’re not good or bad—they’re tools. But like any tool, you can use it in a good or bad way. Look at the passage from Sirach and consider these two points:

“a kind mouth multiplies friends”. Who doesn’t want good friends? That means we have to be kind to those we talk to both face to face and on our phones or computers.

“let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant”. It’s good to know lots of people, but it’s important to be careful how many you take into your confidence. Just like you don’t tell all your acquaintances every detail of your life, you don’t share all these details on Facebook.

Sharing is good – but sharing online can be dangerous!

At Family Honor we talk about how you are closer to some friends than others. Anything that you say on the internet can be seen by anyone. Just like we wouldn’t share personal details about our lives with our entire class or sports team, we shouldn’t share personal details on-line for a few reasons

First of all, it’s dangerous. Consider this video: Bluefish TV

It’s very easy for people to get information about you based on what you share on-line.

  • Never share your whole name, school, age, phone number or address.
  • Never send pictures to strangers or post pictures where strangers could view them.
  • Keep your passwords private.
  • Keep your Facebook Profile private, don’t add friends of friends. Only people you actually know.

Click for Shannon’s story:

Standing up for friends and standing up to friends!

“A kind mouth multiplies friends”: St. Dominic Savio was a student in Italy who died at the age of 15. He saw a fight start on a playground and interrupted the two boys about to fight, holding a crucifix, saying, “Before you fight, look at this and say, ‘Jesus Christ was innocent and he died forgiving his murderers. I am a sinner, and I am going to hurt him by not forgiving my enemies’. Then you can start—and throw the first stone at me.” The fight disbanded.

Like St. Dominic Savio, we have to stand up to our friends when they are about to fight. Only now, fights take place on-line just as much as they take place on the playground. We can’t control what other people say, but we can control what we say. What we do has lasting consequences. We need to remember this before we send any texts or add any comments on Facebook.

Remember Delete, Block, Report

  • Delete people’s numbers or profiles if they’re not being nice.
  • Block them or unfriend them. You can’t control what others say but you can control whether to read or watch them.
  • Report. If you see someone saying something by text or on Facebook that isn’t nice, tell an adult. You can’t do it all alone! Talk to your parents about things you see on-line that seem strange to you.

This is also important to remember if you are allowed to send text messages. Consider:

  • Texts are not private – they can be saved, forwarded and shared.
  • Text Messages are “drama-factories” because they are easy to misread! Expressions and tones of voice are very hard to determine in a text message. For example, read these phrases and think of how many different ways they could be said:
  • Text Messages are “drama-factories” because they are easy to misread! Expressions and tones of voice are very hard to determine in a text message. For example, read these phrases and think of how many different ways they could be said:
  1. “What are you doing here?”
    (WHAT are you doing here? What are YOU doing here? What are you DOING here…)
  2. “I never said you stole the money.”
    (I NEVER said you stole the money. I never said YOU stole the money. I never SAID you stole the money.)
  3. “I helped my uncle chase off the horse.”
    (Is your uncle named Chase? Or did you chase away a horse?)
  4. “I’ve been shooting a wedding.”
    (With a gun or a camera?)
  5. “That was sick”.
    (Infirm? Or incredibly cool?)

You say so much based on your inflection and tone. A lot of misunderstandings take place when you communicate in just one dimension. Use text messaging to confirm things like times and locations but when you have to discuss thoughts, ideas and feelings make a call and save yourself the drama of being mis-read.

When you have to discuss thoughts, ideas and feelings make a call and save yourself the drama of being mis-read.

Any pictures you take with your phone can be sent, forwarded or even stolen off your phone. Don’t keep pictures sent to you if they’re not something you’d want the whole world to see.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philipians 4:8.

Use the Chastity Tips from your program book as a guide and ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I presenting myself as a total person – all my SPICE petals or spokes?
  • Am I being pure in thought, word and action when using technology?
  • Am I showing respect, reverence and restraint when I express myself online or by phone?