Cultural influences are everywhere, even in liquid soap

    I think most parents would agree that raising kids can be difficult. But when you are trying to raise your children as faithful Catholics in today’s culture, it can seem close to impossible.
    One example is the commercialization of the Advent season. Our church sets aside the four weeks before Christmas to spiritually prepare for Christ’s birth. This is meant to be a quiet, reverential time of penance as we prepare to receive Christ in our hearts. Yet, everything in our culture screams “Celebrate, it’s time for gifts!”
    While we are trying to instill in our children the anticipation of Christ’s birth and the sense of penance proper to Advent, we are constantly battling the many loud voices telling us to do the opposite.
    Even things that seem neutral have the ability to taint the way our children think. For example, I purchased body wash for my little girls the other day. It was pink with sparkles and strawberry-scented. I knew they would love it.
    I gave it to them and, as they were taking a bath, my 8-year-old started to read the bottle… “Soft Soap Strawberry Body Wash for smooth, sexy skin.”
How could this be?
    Horrified, I said, “Oh no, let me see that.” Runaway thoughts began coursing through my head: “How does she know that word? Why does a body wash that seems to be marketed to children have the word sexy on it? Should I take it away?”
    We’ve come to terms with it: Our family is counter-cultural. My husband and I constantly find ourselves in situations where we need to do damage control in relation to an intrusion from the culture. Yes, it may seem impossible to raise faithful children in today’s world, but “nothing is impossible for God.”
    My husband and I find solace in this recent Gospel reading. As we lit the “rose” candle, the readings show us the exact prescription we need to pursue our vocation as Christian parents!
    “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4: 4-7).
    And so it is. We pray. We thank God, who gives us all we need. We talk to him about our requests. Then comes peace. I pray to remember this when I become anxious about what my children experience in today’s culture. God is always faithful!
    May we accept his peace that will guard our hearts and minds, and our children’s hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus!
    Angie Thomas serves as CEO of the Woman’s New Life Center. She is a graduate of Archbishop Chapelle High School, Louisiana State University (B.A. 2001, magna cum laude) and Loyola Law School (J.D. 2004, cum laude). She lives in New Orleans with her husband and three daughters. This column first appeared as a blog on nolacatholicexperience.com, a blogging site started by the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 2012.

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