The Archdiocese of New York has published three handy booklets for parents, providing suggestions and examples on how to talk to their kids about the gift and responsibility of human sexuality. Each booklet focuses on a particular age group: primary grades, middle schoolers and teens.
Fathers for Good: A major theme of the booklets is that chastity is more than just saying no. What is the larger context?
Kimberly Quatela: The Parent Guides to Human Sexuality were created to help parents show their children the beauty of the Church’s teachings on human sexuality. They are designed to assist parents to be good models at each stage in their children’s lives. The Parent Guides to Human Sexuality were developed to help parents in three specific ways:
1.To provide parents of children in grades kindergarten through high school with specific knowledge of the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding human sexuality and ways that they can educate their children in the faith in a developmentally appropriate way with the specific references to Church teachings from the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality (Pontifical Council of the Family), Catechetical Formation in Chaste Living (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), and other prominent Church documents.
2. To present parents with an overview of each developmental stage in their child’s life so that they can individually meet the needs of their son or daughter at a time that is appropriate for each child.
3. To empower parents and encourage them to joyfully embrace the active role in their children’s life, especially when it comes to speaking about topics of human sexuality, which many parents feel ill-equipped for.
By providing parents and teens with concise and accurate information about their faith, we are promoting a culture of informed, faithful Catholics who have the knowledge to live out and defend their faith. Using these guides should equip parents with a deeper knowledge of the teachings of the Catholic faith and should make them more confident about their role to begin, and then continue, dialogue about human sexuality with their children.
FFG: What do you tell parents who want the best for their kids but think abstinence is unreasonable or unattainable?
Quatela: All parents want the best for their children – the best schools, best sports teams, best grades, best jobs, best future, etc. It is a good, wholesome desire to want the best for our children. We teach our children to work hard to reach these ideals. We strive to instill in them the practices necessary to reach these goals such as studying, having good eating habits, exercising, making sacrifices, etc. We know that to achieve these goals takes discipline, hard work, and perseverance. This carries over into our children’s lives as they grow and mature as well. Parents want their children to live out happy, fulfilled, healthy lives [when]they set an ideal for their children of saving all sexually intimate acts for marriage. They desire for their children to live out lives of chastity, even if they, as parents, chose otherwise in their own lives. Parents should be celebrated and encouraged when they set this ideal for their children, which will bring their children true freedom, joy, and a closeness to the Lord.
Unfortunately, the media do not celebrate this ideal. The culture bombards us with highly sexualized messages which try and target our children. The media try to sell us “fast food sexuality” – the one where we engorge ourselves and leave feeling dissatisfied, gross, and unhappy with ourselves. Our children deserve so much better than this. We know that living out a life of chastity may not always be easy, but with patience, faith, determination, and the loving support of family and friends, it is possible.
FFG: What is the reaction of school kids to the chastity message?
Quatela: When school kids hear the message of chastity, they are presented with the language of their heart’s deepest desire – the desire for authentic love. They eat this message up because it provides them with a lifestyle that they want which is countercultural and leaves them feeling uplifted, respected, and hopeful. The message of chastity is freeing to them. It provides them with an example of a joyful life. With so many of our schoolchildren coming with wounds, past hurts, and broken homes, they are starving for the messages of authentic, true love that chastity presents. One of the middle school students said, “They completely opened my mind.” That’s exactly what the chastity message does – it opens the hearts and minds of our young people and gives them their hearts’ desires – to be seen and respected as a child of God made in his image and likeness.
Follow this link for more information on the booklets and the chastity program.
This article originally appeared on Fathers for Good and is used with permission.