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Speaker offers help and hope for raising kids with character

 

By Susan Laird
Herald correspondent

 

Bishop Soto and Coleen Kelly Mast

Coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto, left, greets Coleen Kelly Mast before her talk and seminar for parents and grandparents on May 31 at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Carmichael. Susan Laird/Herald photo

 

In a culture that tells parents “anything goes” when it comes to raising kids, where can a parent turn for wisdom and support when wanting to raise children of good character?

 

Answer: The teachings and traditions of the Catholic faith.

 

Parents and grandparents in search of this vital information filled the parish hall of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Carmichael on May 31, all eager to hear from Coleen Kelly Mast — wife, mother, international speaker and host of the popular radio show, “The Doctor is In,” which airs regionally on Immaculate Heart Radio and nationally on Sirius Satellite Radio. The topic of her talk was “Raising Kids with Character.”

 

“The good news about God’s grace is that it’s never too late,” Mast said. “There is hope. We have to deal with the effects of original sin, our sinful tendencies. But Christ has redeemed all things, so we know we can raise kids with character.”

 

The challenge is to take children — step-by-step — from selfishness to selflessness, she explained, because the human person was made to love.

 

“Today’s culture is telling us that lust is love. And lust leads to divisions between men and women, rather than the unity that their hearts desire,” she said. “When we teach selfless love throughout the stages of life, we find that people are more prone to choose a better mate and have a better marriage. And because marriage and the family are the basis for society — the entire culture benefits.”

 

“Actually, our culture tells parents to make our children self-centered. It tells parents that giving a child pleasure will make him or her happy. But gratification multiplied over and over is not equal to happiness. In fact, love isn’t always pleasurable — it’s a sacrifice.”

Coleen Kelly Mast,
speaker and radio show host

Like Jesus, parents need to love their children, while rejecting those things that are wrong, she said.

 

“Jesus did not accept things that were wrong,” Mast said. “He didn’t ask the woman caught in adultery, ‘So, how was the relationship?’ No, he said, ‘Go and sin no more.’ Jesus did not leave them there in their sin. He called people out of bad situations.”

 

When it comes to parenting, it is important for parents to keep their eyes on the ultimate goal: union with God in eternity, she contended.

 

“We want eternal life for our kids. Yes, we will have some crosses to bear. That is why it is important to begin with the ending in mind. Parenting is strategic, not just tactical.”

 

Mast cited four priorities for good parenting.

 

First, work to develop a close relationship with God.

 

“Know your faith,” Mast said. “Make attending Mass a priority, even on vacations. Take time to pray the rosary every day. You be the example. Pray for your children daily. If you are having difficult times with a child, you need to put in some serious prayer time for that child. Pray a novena, or even a nine-hour novena.”

 

Second, work on marriage.

 

“Don’t fall into the temptation of abandoning your spouse when the children are born,” she said. “Spend time with your spouse. Ask, ‘How am I meeting your needs, honey?’ Remember, you are in a complimentary union; one where you are to help each other improve. Practice selfless love and persevere through the rough times.”

 

Third, teach children to become selfless individuals by “fulfilling their needs, not their wants.”

 

Fourth, teach children Christian service to others. All ages can learn.

 

“Toddlers can learn Christian service by rolling socks to take to the local homeless shelter,” she said. “Take older children to help in soup kitchens. Kids can learn to help grandparents. They can perform the corporal works of mercy.”

 

Mast recommended seven essential tools to parents who seek to raise children of good character:

 

 

“The sacrament of reconciliation is especially important,” she said. “That is where we learn of God’s mercy, grow in humility and receive sacramental grace.”

 

Mast acknowledged that “there will be more challenges when an older child has developed a set of bad habits that have kept them self-centered. Actually, our culture tells parents to make our children self-centered. It tells parents that giving a child pleasure will make him or her happy. But gratification multiplied over and over is not equal to happiness. In fact, love isn’t always pleasurable — it’s a sacrifice.”

 

“Character education is really at the heart of Catholic education,” said Coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto, who attended the opening of Mast’s seminar. “This particular theme is an area where we can begin to dialogue with other groups who are also concerned about their young people. We can also look at those opportunities to engage the larger society on these issues.

 

“Catholic habits and traditions help to instill good character,” he added. “Learning to be a person of good character is a very Catholic thing to do. It is precisely in that rhythm and routine of Catholic life that Catholic character sinks deeper and deeper into our beings.”

 

 

 

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