Families: Being a Sign to the World is to Be Practical
We need not have kids on a leash, though surely that would help sometimes… with shock collars too. Yet we also need not leave our kids in public to do whatever they want. Children running around misbehaving (e.g. ripping a place apart) has a very negative impact on how families are perceived. You could be the second coming of the Martin family, yet if your kids are tearing down the lobby of the hockey rink then there are problems at hand. When attending events, be it an after-Mass coffee social, or swimming lessons, it is the responsibility of the parents to go check on their kids once in a while. Is this not just common sense? You would be surprised how often I see otherwise. There is no need to be overbearing, but there is a need to be a prudent parent. Check on the kids. Are they playing right? Who made that mess over there? Why is your son hiding under the table with a plate of cookies? Whose idea was it to build a tower of Babel out of stacked chairs? Indeed, families, especially Catholic families, need to do the world a favour by checking in on their kids in public settings.
Some parents will never contradict their children in public. As the saying goes, kids aren’t stupid. They will take advantage in these situations. Other parents make a point of being the boss and will loudly berate their children in front of the public. Both methods are unreasonable, and put others in awkward positions. It is unpleasant to hear a dad put on an Incredible Hulk impersonation over a child making a small mistake. Be kind. Be firm. Sometimes you need to leave places early. That is ok. Again, be prudent. And know that others are watching.
Easier said than done. Period. There is nothing more heart-warming than rushing out the door to an event before realizing… the smell. Yes, a diaper needs changing, and you are now officially going to be late. Really though, being on time can be accomplished. Most of the time. Work at leaving earlier. It will eventually become a habit. Perhaps most importantly too, it will teach your children to do so when they are older as well. Do not frustrate others by showing up late when it is avoidable.
Other examples abound, though ultimately the main idea is that families need to carry themselves publicly in a proper and practical manner, and silent prayer is required for this mission. Being a sign to the world is to be practical too. In God all things are possible.