Keep these words, that I am commanding you today, in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home.
– Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Our changing world has allowed me time to reflect on my growing up years and the times my family spent together at meals, watching TV, playing games, going on family outings, visiting relatives and friends, solving family issues and attending Mass. My needs were always met with love and care. My wants were not always given to me, but I loved and trusted my parents and knew they loved me just the same. I am so very grateful for the love, care and guidance my parents provided for my siblings and me.
With my own children, I worked hard to provide them with that same solid foundation and taught them to be thankful for what they have and to share with others. I believe that part of the process to happiness is in time spent with family and friends and caring for others and their needs.
More often than not, today’s families look to material things as the process that will make their children truly happy and caring adults … the latest outfit by Juicy and Hollister, the newest items from Tiffany’s and Coach, Play Stations, iPod’s, and cell phones.
The sad reality is that, when these items become a substitute for parental time and nurturing, I witness good families with children who are not in a process to true happiness … children who lack social skills, respect for themselves and others, and who are not liked by their peers no matter how many trendy items they have in their collections. I see children who are lost in a lack of gratefulness and caring for others.
Children of all ages are entering a new school year and some will begin a year of preparing to receive sacraments. I encourage everyone to set aside some family time to answer three questions each week: What am I grateful for? What am I sorry for? Whom did I help today? This little practice can define your family as one that cares. This practice can be the start of helping your children to develop their character, courage, and conscience for an ever-challenging world awaiting them. Reflecting on your day or week may be a start to true to happiness and making the world a better place for all.