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 Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WisconsinApril 18, 2003 Issue 

Easter: Stewardship and Prayer

Seven ways to raise children who care

There are things parents can do to make sure they raise Easter people

By Tom Rinkoski

photo of Tom Rinkoski
Tom Rinkoski

Celebrating Easter is delightful. However, it is another thing to live Easter after the celebration is done. The birth of a baby also is a celebration. Raising a child, however, is an adventure. Here are seven ways to raise Easter people -- children who care:

 • Easter-related articles

1. To raise children who care, be a parent who cares. Children learn from what you do much more than what you say. Don't talk about virtue and caring, be virtuous and caring. Your efforts at caring do not have to be titanic. The small stuff counts! Welcome your children home when they walk in the door after school. Notice them every day. Listen with your whole heart and soul to their stories. The primary skill of a parent who cares is to listen well. Never underestimate the power of having someone listen to you with the whole body and mind and heart.

2. To raise children who care, introduce them to other adults who care. Research from the Search Institute (Minneapolis) has shown that in order to grow up to be healthy and successful, teens must have three positive adult relationships other than their parents. Cultivate these connections. Affirm them when your children find them. Help them to find others who can both be adopted aunts and uncles, big brothers and sisters and who are also Easter people. While we are at it, for which teens are you an Easter person, a shining light, a friend?

3. To raise children who care, nurture a spirit of generosity in your family. If you give allowances, arrange the money so that giving to charity is an expectation. Re-examine your Christmas giving. Become a creative giver, make giving a fun and exciting participative sport. Volunteer your time and talent generously, setting an example for your children. Better yet, volunteer as a family. Not only will you nurture generosity, you also will gain quality family time!

4. To raise children who care, grow a spirit of civic participation. There are people right now fighting for our right to vote, and yet we are not employing that right. Caring that only exists within your house, is not really Easter caring. Pick a cause (for example, the ecology) that inspires you and work toward it with spirit and soul. Take your children to parks and enjoy your common heritage. Accepting responsibility for the common good is at the bedrock of Catholic social teaching.

5. To raise children who care, learn to honor Sabbath time in your family. We desperately need citizens of heaven and earth who know how to take time out to reflect and think about things. If you are married, establish a date night. The best gift your can give your children is a healthy, successful marriage. Make your family meals a Sabbath time. Take vacations often and without guilt. Rituals provide sacred space that becomes Sabbath time. Invent new rituals for yourselves.

6. To raise children who care, learn effective problem solving skills together and practice them daily. Avoid violence, always. Teach your children to solve problems on their own with critical thinking, brainstorming alternatives, and practicing forgiveness. Good problem solving pays attention to feelings. These days peacemaking is a skill that we all need to learn. Life provides us with more than enough opportunity to practice getting better at problem solving. Don't miss these grace-filled moments!

7. To raise children who care, help them stretch their horizons. It is in reaching out beyond the comfortable that we grow spiritually. Our children are growing into a world that is unlike ours, teach them to value and embrace diversity. Learning another language is a way to begin this process. Celebrate Kwanzaa, Martin Luther King Day, attend Native American celebrations, join a Hmong New Year Party. Our world is a marvelous gift. Think and act globally, don't just watch the planet spin by on your TV.

Jesus did not die and rise so we could celebrate Easter. He died and rose so that we could be Easter. Practice Resurrection. Be a people known for caring!

(Rinkoski is the Green Bay Diocese's Family Life director and a professional story-teller.)

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