Excerpts From Healthy Families: Safe Children Videos

On The Crisis of Culture

"Humans are created for relationships. Moral growth and emotional growth can only occur within the context of these relationships. Babies hunger for connectedness and warmth. In a society where relationships begin to deteriorate the breakdown of moral behavior is not far behind." Dr. Lee Harrington

"I see many children and families that are involved in far too many activities. They rush around and have little time to talk to one another, too busy for the relationships that really matter and too busy for the relationship with God." Dr. David Willis

On Proactive Parenting

"Experiences with parents are really necessary for children to learn to manage strong emotions." Dr. David Willis

"We are not teaching boys how to care responsibly and morally about others. The goal of our efforts must include the better socialization of our boys and men." Fr. John Cihak

"The way the parent interacts with the child in the first few months and first years of the child’s life has profound impact on the child’s social and emotional development. It sets the course for the predictable developmental pathway. It’s like the trajectory of an airplane. It’s predictable, but it can be modified. Social competence begins in infancy. Self-worth, self-confidence, the ability to pay attention and the ability to communicate all are acquired in the first years of life. And these are the foundations for the four year old to develop self-control, self-assertiveness, self-reliance, and for his ability to form healthy relationships with siblings, other children and with adults. This competence is the foundation for his competence in grade school and adolescence. But the single strongest predictor of a child’s success or failure is the experience of his relationships with his parents in the first years of life. It’s the power of the take-off." Dr. Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre

On Early Childhood Development

"Babies who are left to cry it out cry much more at 12 months than babies who are picked up and held and comforted, and this is because babies who are held and comforted learn more sophisticated forms of communication than crying." Dr. Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre

"When the parent consistently fails to respond to a child’s emotional distress the child begins to feel that his emotions are unimportant or unacceptable. He may even begin to feel ashamed of his emotions and hide them deep inside himself. When he’s under extreme distress he can’t hide them and they come spilling out in an emotional outburst, and if his parents respond negatively to his outbursts, it just perpetuates his feeling that his emotions are unacceptable." Dr. Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre

"Discipline is education and not punishment." Dr. Lee Harrington

"The more self-control and self-discipline the parents have the less they actually have to discipline their children." Fr. Derek J. Lappe

On Moral Formation

"The infant automatically seeks care and nourishment in the relationship with parents. That’s not something the child learns. The child knows that inherently. It’s part of the nature of the child. Likewise, the child has an innate capacity to know and understand good, and he’s looking for that good from parents and from society so that they can fill up within themselves that which they are hungry for, that which is true, good, right and proper." Bishop Robert Vasa

"Children learn the concepts of right and wrong, good and bad, within the context of their relationships, particularly with their parents. Moral lessons are provided within the context of their day to day experiences." Bishop Robert Vasa
Conscience development is closely tied to emotional growth. Dr. Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre

"Men and women have an innate capacity to know what is true. It’s written in their hearts by God. Children have that same capacity to know the truth. God also gives us the capacity to love Him and the capacity to carry out the commands that He gives as a result of that love. Jesus tells us, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” The fact that the commandment is given—God gives the power to carry it out." Bishop Robert Vasa

"The formation of the moral conscience takes place in concert with the development of the person—the development of moral emotions, the development of self-control, the development of empathy for their peers, the development of an appreciation and understanding of the role of authority in their lives. When parents are connected likewise with the moral teachings of the Church on truth and morality then the children learn the virtues—the moral virtues of chastity, and charity, and honesty, and integrity, and these are picked up almost automatically by the child, and they thus live the rules of the Church without any difficulty or any kind of distress about those rules." Bishop Robert Vasa

On Secure Attachment and Authoritative Parenting

"Secure attachment, authoritative parenting and moral formation are like building blocks, building on one another and culminating in the formation of moral virtues. If any one of the building blocks is missing, it’s very hard to form moral conscience and moral virtues. Children who have insecure attachment to their parents or drill sergeant or permissive parents are handicapped in their development of conscience and moral virtues." Dr. Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre

"Drill sergeant parents tend to be intimidating and use power and control to control their children. Fear and intimidation are the tactics they use to help their children comply and they’re doing this primarily for their own welfare, rather than the welfare of their children. They promote rebellious children, or perhaps even submissive, anxious children who are passive aggressive at a later time in their live." Dr. Lee Harrington

"On the other extreme, there are parents who tend to be permissive. On the outside there’s a lot of love in the family, but there are no real standards. These children grow up without any guideposts and they tend to become antisocial at some point later in life." Dr. Lee Harrington

On Redemption and Healing

"When parents are healed, children are healed and this occurs when parents develop attuned communication, when they become comfortable with all the basic emotions and when they learn self-control—they stop fighting, they stop yelling." Dr. Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre

"The best predictor of how [parents] will parent is how they themselves were parented, and so part of the challenge is to get parents to explore, and look at and reflect upon how they were parented, and then discern, “How do I want to parent my children?” and that may require patience and change and grace in order for them to make the changes which they want and need to make." Bishop Robert Vasa

"Patience really does hurt—it is a self-discipline, it is a dying to self, it is a diminishment of oneself and that is painful—that’s difficult. It is a kind of suffering… This really is not about repressing feelings at all, but rather the full acknowledgement and actual embracing of the unpleasantness. It really is a way of uniting the sufferings of self with the sufferings of Christ, and [a parent] experiences this maybe without even knowing it, that she sacrifices herself in union with Christ for the good of the family, for the good of her children, and she feels good about that. We see the redemptive value of suffering in a small microcosm…" Bishop Robert Vasa

*One caveat: I do not recommend either of the chastity programs suggested for parents in the HFSC program, Theology of the Body for Teens by Jason Evert, et al, or Teen Star by Dr. Hanna Klaus. I believe families would be better served if parents read Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, or Theology of the Body for Beginners themselves and then imparted these truths to their adolescents gradually and naturally as opportunities present themselves.

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Catholic Attachment Parenting

A philosophy of parenting modeled after the self-donative love exemplified in the relationship between Mary and Jesus.

1 Jn 4:18

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love."

Luke 1:17

"...to turn the hearts of the parents toward their children..."