Maybe I’m the last person who should be putting up a website like this. I’m not the holiest guy in the world. In fact, the biggest regret I have in life is that I wasn’t more attentive to my children’s spiritual needs as they were growing up. I cringe nowadays when I realize that we became the quintessential cultural Catholics who went to Mass on Sunday, said Grace before meals and bedtime prayers.
Silly thing is, today even that is out of the ordinary. It isn’t what I intended! Irony has taken the upper hand in my life many times. Starting off with good intentions, you get dragged to the side. Sometimes you get dragged through the mud. But here’s the kicker: Kenny Chesney was right when he sang in “Don’t Blink” that time goes faster than you think. Your best intentions get steamrolled when you hesitate and there you stand, empty hands outstretched and pleading ignorance.
You may say that the culture we live in dictates much of what our children experience on a daily basis. Those of you who are doing it right know that your challenge to guide and protect your children is a 24 hour a day war, and you win some battles and lose some, if for no other reason than the persistence of the enemy and the precision of his weapons.
I lost too many battles. The longer it takes you to formulate a strategy and move out to the battle lines, the more injured you’ll have in triage. I won’t get into the challenges I faced that were partially or totally beyond my control, or the results of my failures, because everyone’s circumstances are different. And God’s mercy is everlasting for those who seek it.
What I hope to accomplish here is to help you avoid the mistakes I made. To anticipate the enemy’s plans and take pre-emptive action. Anthony Esolen tells us that if we lose the battle in helping to form our child’s imagination, this culture will chew them up and spit them out.
I’ll tell you a secret that I learned too late. It’s the reason I’m burning the candle at both ends getting this website up and operational, offering resources to make it easy for you to do the right thing. When your kids are small, especially before they’ve learned to read, read to them. Every day, even if just for a few minutes. Read them a bedtime story every night, pulled from the thousand good books available from the drop down menu above. Make the time and take the time to do it even if you’re tired. Read to them at bedtime until they fall asleep listening to the stories. You will cherish the memories of that time, and they will remember it for the rest of their lives.
The stories themselves are unbelievably effective in properly forming a child’s imagination, while at the same time giving you plenty of material to help form their character, to instill virtue. If you make these books the bedrock of their continuing education, you will accomplish something spectacular. Deep knowledge of these books, accompanied with hours of time spent outdoors and in nature, will give them what their bodies, minds, and souls require.
John Senior said it best:
“when you plant even the best children’s literature in even the brightest young minds, if the soil of those minds has not been richly manured by natural experience, you don’t get the fecund fruit of literature which is imagination, but infertile fantasy. Children need direct, everyday experience of fields, forests, streams, lakes, oceans, grass and ground.”
If you don’t believe me, try it. And let me know how it turns out. As I state in a soon to be released book, “If you read a book to a child, you are a magical being. Because you can tell the story from the black squiggles on the page, be a hero to a child and read to them.”
The thousand good books are out there for the taking. Take them.