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March 20, 1998     The Message
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March 20, 1998

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998 C The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 .... !ii : 'i nicating with teens about hope M. THOMAS Service e seven children. I them, to be hopeful. I to look ahead and dream them to be zestful, to welcome the chal- Admittedly, it's this will happen. of our time is that bereft of hope. that way for the g of life. is ahead of them. But be like if they are cynicism and some- in despair? about the important erlook hopeful- often for an increase seems to be for- to learn that this powerful dri- all the other virtues. It It us out of bed fin our feet. It make decisions. from stop to start. It r futures brighter. help children , I Want to ask: Are you you open to liv- yesterday, and ? It is said that others what we don't hope's underside is the comic char-  around under a dark defeat colors Cyni- with the emer- Cynicism is hard to take in adults. But it's 10 times worse in the young. Let's return to the virtue of hope. Hope moves us into action. It powers us to try even if we don't have a perfect track record of suc- cess. Hope operates in a world where anything is possible. The hopeful person looks problems or obstacles straight in the eye and pro- claims that opportunity has arrived. Our children, however, face a world where being hopeful seems out of step with the real world: They see hard work rewarded with job termina- tion. They see bright stu- dents with good degrees working at menial jobs. They see money and power as the real forces which drive society. Can parents counter this picture? How can parents offer an alternative view of life? Parents can't just say that goodness always tri- umphs or that the good guys and gals always win. "One great tragedy of our time is that many young people seem bereft of hope," observes David Thomas. "They see bright students with good degrees working at If we try to make a case in favor of hope by relying solely on evidence found in our mixed-up world, we're not going to con- vince anyone. So what can a parent do? The best way to assist our children in becoming people of hope is to live that way ourselves. Study after study points out how children learn the important things about life directly from the family. Children are watching parents all the time. They note how we respond to the Marketplace Point: a teen initiated a conversation about faith in your home? from at Resurrection Church, Evansville. O.S.B. a busy Saturday during Mater Dei's wrestling season I se of being so tired from the day before. I told my son to go to church to pay our respect and also to give y afternoon] Mass we saw a coach and two Wrestlers" .. Seeing others going the extra mile to resulted in this question not being asked again. G. Herrmann :aSked me what I thought about the death penalty, which led into r it was right or wrong. And when I asked him what reply was that Jesus would not want us to put someone to else .... I pray that his faith stays strong and overcomes i cme With being a teenager. m E. Beach / preparation, numerous questions about our faith were was generated about the changes between what par- What the children are being taught, especially with regard to J. Zirkeibach had a dramatic impact on our teenagers. His accident brought ings happen to good people. It served as a catalyst to the importance of balance in our life, the importance of and the fact of out mortality ,  M.H. Knapp menial jobs. They see money and power as the real forces with drive society. Can par- ents counter this picture?" -- CNS photo by Bill Witmann crises and challenges of'our lives. And hope, as lived within the family, is like all good (and not-so-good) habits. What I mean is that habits are caught more than taught. Living around hopeful adults allows the children to see "up close and personal" the reality of hope. There is no substitute for personal witness. Recently, my wife and I adopted two little girls who had been our foster chil- dren when they were babies. Sadly; they both experienced failed adoptions. We took them back, and now we will never let them go. We are in our late 50s. They are just beginning grammar school. I suppose our older children, who ate in their 20s and early 30s, think we're a little crazy. If asked to give an account of the hope that is in us, the hope that moved us to become parents again at our somewhat advanced age, we would begin by say- resources, we could not do it. We are supported by the hope that our new little ones will be both happy and health),. And so will their parents. And we have come to believe that underneath all the forces of life we find God's untir- ing goodness. So we hold this hope  rooted as it is in this belief m firmly with both hands. Put simply, we profess that the power of life is stronger than the power of death. Because of this awareness, we also must affirm that our hope comes direct- ly from God. And God will not be stingy in its giving. If we parents build our lives in this hope, our children will come to see it and make it their own. Tlromas is graduate professor of commu, :, nity leadership at Regis University, Denver, Colo. Food for thought Let's accept as a given that parents want to foster hope in their children. Many parents, nonetheless, can testify to the frustration they've experienced attempting to do just that when a child suffers a loss of hope. I've found as a parent and from talking to many parents that sometimes an 0 f obstacle stands m a y utah s way, blocking him from approaching life hopefuU: The youth's sense that things are hopeless may show up in poor schoolwork, excess anger or in other ways. The parents, however, may not know about this obstacle. What obstacle? A learning difficulty perhaps  causing the youth to antic- ipate repeated failures at school. Or it might be some kind of fear or some- thing else. The time needs to arrive when the youth opens up to his parents or anoth- er trusted adult about this. So I believe parents should do whatever the), can to create an atmosphere of trust in which the child may confide  them, Isn't this just another way of saying that trust and comana are keys to parent-child relationships? Yes. Good communication alyout what blocks hope enables paren to support r child well in  to come to terms with it. David Gibson Editor, Faith Alive! L