Promoting the Virtue of Chastity in Your Children

So you finally feel secure in your role as a mom or a dad. You can successfully guide little fingers away from flames, keep tricycles out of busy streets and balance soccer schedules with dance classes, homework projects, piano lessons and bedtime routines. But what about teaching your children about chastity? If you are like most parents, you probably eschew the idea of even approaching the subject with your children, hoping that some teacher or counselor will guide them. But helping your children grow in holiness through the virtue of chastity goes far beyond the scope of any school curriculum — as the audience recently learned at a pro-life conference at St. Timothy Parish in Chantilly. "Chastity is a lifestyle of holiness," said Father Terry A. Cramer, parochial vicar and spiritual adviser for the St. Gabriel Society. "Chastity is not just about avoiding sex prior to marriage. Chastity is a way of life." In the second in a series of pro-life seminars, Father Cramer and St. Timothy parishioner Maureen Duran instructed parents and teachers of children of all ages on how to promote the virtue of chastity — not just how to give "the talk" to our children. "Your mission as parents in teaching chastity to your children is to live a chaste life," Father Cramer exhorted. "The virtue of chastity is reflected in the other virtues of honesty, faith, trustfulness, charity, peace and worshiping and knowing God." As parents we need to live these virtues if we expect to teach them to our children. "The real change has to happen in parents before you can influence your children," he said. "Are you sending mixed messages? What about modesty in dress? What clothes are you wearing? What shows do you watch on TV? What movies do you see? What conversations do you have at home? Chastity begins with you and your life. "Teach your children that this is God’s law — not mom and dad’s way — but God’s law, and God wants us to do what is best for ourselves. God wants to be at the beginning, middle, and end of your attempt to teach chastity. So you need to pray together every day. Read the scriptures together, pray and study the Catechism — from front to back. "There is no specific ‘talk.’ Your whole life is a talk," said Duran, who teaches human sexuality classes and conducts workshops on character-based sexuality. "Most parents want someone else to teach their children about chastity." But throughout her impassioned talk, Duran underscored the need for parents to embrace their roles in guiding their children in this virtue. We need to be involved in every aspect of our children’s lives, from the friends they keep, to the movies they watch, to the music they listen to. And we need to parent by example. Duran encouraged fathers in the audience to take their daughters on dates, to give them examples of respectful dating practices and to give their daughters a necklace or a ring to express their commitment to remaining chaste. "Most kids are not out looking for great sexual experiences," Duran said. "They are often looking to fill a void. If that void is filled inside the home, they will not look to fill it outside the home. But some kids will use their bodies for five or 10 minutes just to feel cared for and accepted. "And at what price?" she asked rhetorically after a deliberate pause. "Once children feel they have value, they can understand and respect the dignity of the human person. Uncommitted sex, on the other hand, completely disregards the dignity of life and takes selfish risks with another person’s body," Duran said. "Unfortunately, we live in a disposable society, one that permits abortion, euthanasia and all kinds of abuse. We need to teach our children a different mindset. One way to teach them that everyone has dignity is to get them involved in service-oriented projects and groups." Duran then summarized the results of a multi-million dollar study, which she believed served only to prove the obvious. "After spending millions of dollars, which dating practice do you think they found promoted pre-marital sex most often?" she asked her audience. "That’s right," she affirmed, "going steady. That’s why teenagers should go out in groups." If uncommitted sex is selfish, "sex within the context of marriage is sacred," Duran continued. "God honors the unitive aspect of the sexual relationship. He is not an old fuddy duddy. He is youthful. "Sex should be a prayerful, sacred experience between a husband and wife. We need to invite God into that union. We need to let go and let God." Throughout her talk, Duran maintained that parents are "the experts." Few teachers or guidance counselors can prepare our children — those who are called to the vocation of marriage — for committed and sacred sexual experiences. We as parents must help our children embrace the virtue of chastity in order for them to lead chaste and holy lives regardless of their vocations. The next pro-life conference at St. Timothy is planned for the end of March. Duran will be speaking on the virtue of chastity on Monday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church, 271 Winchester St., Warrenton.

Copyright ?2001 Arlington Catholic Herald.  All rights reserved.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2001