According to the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, “To be pure in heart means to will one thing.” I like that.
We do not want to limit purity to sexuality, though that is definitely an important element of it. We should think of purity of heart as pertaining to everything we do and all that we are.
What are you all about? What do you will? What do you desire? What do you want more than anything? The answers to these questions will tell us if we are pure in heart.
Our hearts need to be pure. When our hearts are pure, we will to be who we were created to be. We desire nothing more than to be holy, righteous people who love Jesus above everything else.
So, what can we do? I think it important that we tell them early on that our intention is to help them stay pure. Let your child know that you want this for them.
Early on, they need to learn that your family is different than most families out there. They should know that there will be things that their friends do that you will not allow them to do.
First, let’s hit the don’ts:
Don’t drink with your child. I think drinking with your child isn’t “taking the mystery out of it.” I think it’s teaching them a horrible lesson; that they need alcohol to relax and have a good time.
Going on trips with their girlfriends or boyfriends is not a good way to monitor their behavior. It’s putting them into a situation that is way too tempting for them to generally handle. They need to learn that dating is not a recreational activity. There are people’s hearts involved, and we don’t recreate with those.
Letting your child “get it out of his/her system” is not a recommended excuse for sinful behavior. I fall back on one of my old redneck sayings here: “If you want a wild dog off your porch, don’t feed it.” Sin works the same way. We don’t feed it to get rid of it.
Monitor the T.V. This one is huge. As a general rule, television sends your kids a message that is radically contrary to the Gospel.
Don’t be your child’s friend. They have enough of those. Be their parent. Do not hesitate to tell them what is right and wrong and enforce discipline. Young people know when their authority is “all talk.”
Now, let’s cover the dos:
Take your child to church. Early on, young people need to see the value of faithfulness. Faithfulness to God is essential to their spiritual and emotional development. They should know that no matter what happens, they are going to church. Even if they fight you, give them that one thing they can count on always happening.
Pray with your child. Not just before meals, but everyday as a family. My folks never let social, athletic or extra-curricular activities interfere with the daily ritual of sitting down together after dinner to take time to pray.
Show your child love and affection. Let them know they are God’s gift to you and more important than anything else. Don’t assume they know you love them. Teenagers in particular tend to struggle with feeling loved.
by Father Joseph Krupp