Helping Our Kids Encounter Beauty

In last week’s post, Beauty Will Save the World.  I shared why Beauty is the antidote to all the evil and ugly in our world.

This week is more about the “how” to bring beauty into the lives of your kids on the daily.  It will look different in every family, but I always appreciate seeing other peoples approaches to things that matter.  Hopefully you do too!

Without further ado, I offer you my 7 suggestions for helping kids to encounter beauty.

~1~

Is it Bad to Shelter Your Kids?

Right up front I’d like to respond to two objections I hear out there in the world.  The first is that “overly-protective” parents are attempting to create an unhealthy “bubble” that just can’t last and will make kids incapable of dealing with the real world.

Are we naively creating a bubble that eventually is going to burst?

My response to that remark would be, “Don’t worry”. Our kids are going to see and hear about all the ugly soon enough — protecting them from that when they’re young will allow them time to grow in the mental, emotional and spiritual maturity that is necessary to properly process those things.

Hey, take a cue from nature — any gardener knows that you have to be very careful with young seedlings — expose them to the harsh elements too early, and it will retard their growth or kill them entirely.

I like to take that as an inspiration for my own philosophy of raising kids.  Protect them when they’re young, immerse them in the good, the true and the beautiful — and ever so slowly expose them to the world at large when you feel they’re ready for it.

The second objection I hear is in the anecdotal form.  It might sound something like, “(Insert name here) did (insert questionable activity here) and he turned out all right.”

At the end of the day, I’m not aiming for my children turning out “okay”.  I want them to thrive and have the very best life — not just an okay one.  I’m doing my best to raise them in an environment in which they will thrive — not just survive.

My best word of advice:  forget what all the other parents are doing.

This is about you and your God-given call to parent these unique souls. He’s put them into your care, and if you seek His help,  He won’t leave you hanging.

It’s good to seek out the advice of others, but at the end of the day, if you’re gut is saying a particular thing isn’t good for your kids, just say a prayer, seek God’s guidance and then moveon.com, baby.

~2~

Start with Yourself  

It’s hard to give to others what we don’t have ourselves.  We need to do fill our hearts, minds, and souls with beauty if we want to share it with our kids.  Frankly, we need it as much as they do, so seeking out beautiful things in your own life is a win/win in my book.

Are you filling your life with good things, and are you saying no to those things that you know just aren’t good for you.

For me, I avoid watching the news and clicking on that awful story because I know it will only leave me sad, panicked and full of fear — and fear has a way of driving love out of our hearts, so I gotta say no to those things.

Say a prayer for all involved when you see the horrific headline and don’t dwell on it unless you feel convicted you have a tangible role to play in that tragedy.

Loving the people around you is often the most powerful response we can have to a tragedy happening 10,000 miles away from us.

If we dwell on that distant evil we’re going to become paralyzed to the good we can do in our own homes and our own communities.

Don’t fall into that trap.

So parents, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.  You’re too important to your kids to be filling your heart up with those things that just aren’t good for you.

~3~

Take the Time to Experience Beauty With Your Kids.

We can’t just leave a vacuum in our kids lives by removing the ugly and evil from their lives — you have to fill that space with  beautiful things.

Seek out concerts, art exhibits, movies and literature that help you to experience beauty in this world.  Bring your kids along too.

It doesn’t mean that every character in every book you read will be beautiful and good — but if their flaws are handled in a way that leads to a greater truth about man and His ultimate purpose, than those are the kinds of subjects that are worth contemplating.

Those tragic flaws can lead to a deeper truth that can teach us about real life.  So yay for good literature.

And if money is an issue, look for free concerts and free days at museums, or consider taking a pilgrimage to local shrine — look for opportunities that are all around you.  They’re there.

Impromptu performances  on street corners are some of my favorite things.

You just might run into a musician offering a free “concert” on a street corner or in an alleyways.  You might be in a hurry, but those are the little moments that you need to stop and let it all soak in, because they are gifts.

And throw those performers a few bucks.  They deserve it.

~4~

Consider Music Lessons

We need to prepare the next generation to be the protectors, the carriers of beauty to the world.  Introducing our kids to music is a helpful way to do that.

And I’m no tiger mom.  I’m not on them to practice hours a day, but I do provide good teachers and try to remind them when it’s time to practice.

Making music a part of their education helps them to recognize beauty in all it’s forms.   It teaches them that there is real effort involved in achieving something that is beautiful.

Years ago, a friend of mine shared her piano teacher’s emphasis on the benefits that music has for the adolescent brain.  She said that the brain “re-wires” in late adolescence.  It is preparing for adulthood, for adult hormones, etc….and this is a crucial time to keep kids going in music.

It’s also the time when they start to hate music and want to quit.  So stay strong, parents.

Stick with it and know that you are helping your kid’s brains to be wired towards harmony, beauty and order.

Besides, those gifts are sorely needed in the Church.  Encourage them to put all those years of practice and lessons at the service of the Church one day.

And I’ve never met an adult who regrets having music skills.  They’ll probably thank you later.

~5~

Learn About the Theology of the Body and Share it With Your Kids

Works of art can illustrate greater truths about man in a memorable way.

Our Church is so full of resources to teach us about our true identity and the beauty of our faith.  Podcasts, blogs, vlogs, radio programs, and countless documents of the Church are there to help us figure it all out.

In this day and age, I think an understanding  John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is crucial.  It is such a beautiful approach to human sexuality, and it can make all the difference in helping your kids to navigate this world of ours.

A proper understanding of the Theology of the Body is crucial in helping you to confidently approach those conversations you should be having with your kids.

I’m going to share a few resources in a future post on this very topic, because it’s so important.

To be continued… in the meantime seek out good resources or you might even try to dive head first into Pope John Paul II’s book,  Love and Responsibility.  

~6~

Seek Out Good Guides

Last summer, we knew that if we were going to put in the time and effort to go to Italy, we were going to prepare our kids ahead of time and invest in a great guide when we got there — one who really understood the Church’s role in the art, architecture, and history of Rome.

It was the best decision we could have made. It was a powerful way for our kids to see the depth and beauty of our faith.  Our guide had the full picture, he was faithful, kind, and patient — so very patient!  So worth the money to have a great guide.

An amazing (and patient) tour guide will make all that effort well worth it. He led us through the sites of Rome and enlightened us to the beauty of our faith.

The same is true in life.  It’s worth finding guides to lead us along the way — guides who have a full picture of man, woman and the Church.

No matter where your kids go to school, you are still the primary educator of your kids.  We have to stay involved with their education, and we have to stay involved in their lives.

Find a good priests or somebody who has successfully made it through the parenting pitfalls, and start asking questions.

There is a humility in seeking out the help of others, God didn’t make our faith only about us and Him — He wants us to build community and rely on each other.

So don’t be afraid to seek out the help of a “guide” who can help you and your kids grow closer to God.

 

~7~

Teach Your Kids to Recognize the Beauty in Silence

Teach your kids to appreciate and seek out silence in their hearts — even if the world around them is busy.

Ultimately, God is Beauty, and we often find Him in the silence of our hearts.  It’s not that He can’t strike us off of our high horses and speak to us, but that’s not the usual way that He works.

The other day, I found myself saying this as a reminder to myself:

Know silence, Know God.  

No Silence, No God.

I’m not talking about pin-dropping silence, because God knows my crazy celtic warrior children are often whooping and hollering to no end.  Of course, He can speak through the noise of life.

I’m talking about a recollected silence of the heart which comes in trying your best to find a quiet space and meet God in prayer.  It’s about trying your best and accepting that God will speak through the noise of life if you’re trying to make time for Him.

Like any other form of beauty, finding God in silence takes effort.  It takes time.  It takes preparation.

Seek out opportunities to allow your kids to discover the beauty of adoration.   Give them opportunities to sit in that silence with God.

Even my 4 year old will sometimes surprise me by sitting with a Rosary in total silence for 20 minutes in the adoration chapel. My baby, not so much. 🙁

They’re going to remember the peace and clarity that comes in those moments of silence.  They’re going to need it when they go out into this world of ours.

That’s all I got. Hope it gets you thinking about ways you can help your kids encounter beauty.

Have a great weekend.

Linking up with Kelly.

 

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2 thoughts on “Helping Our Kids Encounter Beauty

  1. I’ve heard horror stories of people getting a guide … who ends up not being faithful and mocking the Church throughout the tour. How do you find faithful guides?

    1. Christine,
      I’ve heard bad guide stories too. Fortunately I had attended a conference years before with our tour guide — and my niece had gone to Rome before us and recommended them. Small world. Unfortunately I don’t know how much longer they’ll be staying in Rome — it’s been a number of years. It’s hard to find, but they’re definitely out there. I’ve also had good experiences with tours from North American college seminarians as well. That’s a good resource too.

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