Author, latest, Teachable Moments (2014)
Founder/Editor of the OntheCulture.com blog
Columnist whose "Teachable Moments" column is featured in Catholic Digest magazine
Appeared on Fox and Friends, CBS Evening News, etc.
Featured weekly on EWTN Radio's Son Rise Morning Show with Matt Swaim
Former culture columnist for the The Washington Times (nine years)
Graduated from Michigan State University
Serves on the advisory board of the Parents Television Council
Married to Jim
Marybeth Hicks: Teachable Moments
The 700 Club
“There’s no way to avoid the intrusion of culture into our homes and families, but we don’t have to let these instances exploit and influence our children,” shares Marybeth. “Instead, we can use those unplanned opportunities to instill conscience, character and faith into the hearts and minds of the children God has entrusted to our care.” Marybeth says the key for parents is to find “teachable moments” throughout the day to educate kids and start conversations about Christian values and their place in modern-day society. She offers the following strategies to help parents:
- Be intentional and look for teachable moments – The goal isn’t to sit down for a formal presentation about moral behavior or belabor the point, but routinely incorporate such discussions into your conversations.
- Define what’s right and what’s wrong – To be a moral person is to be Christlike. Our Christian moral code tells us what is right and wrong in the context of our faith which is based on truth.
- Define good character – Teach words that describe the character traits we hope to cultivate in our children. For example, accountable, committed, or dependable.
- Focus on the future – The work of parenting is to mold our children’s character for adulthood, not simply to manage their experiences for success or happiness in the present day. Don’t try to fix things for our kids to make life easier. Sometimes a child needs to be allowed to experience the adversity brought on by their actions.
- Teach by example – Parents teach best when we demonstrate moral behavior by example. Take your child with you back to the store to pay for something you inadvertently left on the lower rack of the shopping cart.
TEACHABLE MEDIA MOMENTS
It’s easy to blame the media for all the social and cultural ills around us. However, the media can also be a tool to teach and promote the lessons children need to live moral and faithful lives. “As Christians, we’re called to integrate our media consumption into our lives in ways that support our faith and values, and not as a perpetual temptation or an avenue of corruption. Parents can impart influential life lessons when we look for teachable moments in and around our use of media,” reveals Marybeth. She offers the following advice to help parents when navigating through media situations with your children:
- You open your daughter’s Facebook page on your family computer and are distressed about a message exchange she had been having with a friend. She says you are invading her privacy. Your minor child’s privacy in cyberspace is not an entitlement. How much privacy you allow depends on the child and the record of trust she has built. “Our obligation and responsibility to rear our children means we have the right to know what’s going on. That’s the only way we can guide and teach them,” shares Marybeth.
- You go online to check out your daughter’s Twitter feed – you discover there is a party being planned for the weekend that includes drinking, drugs, and hooking up. “If we’re acting responsibly as parents, we’re monitoring our children’s social media use,” shares Marybeth. “I think it’s a blessing for those of us parents who want real information about what our teenagers are exposed to.” Her response to this situation was that she banned her daughter from going to the party, talked to other parents to make them aware of what was going on, and made the school aware of what she had seen on Twitter so they could contact the host family.
- You notice your son is clicking out of Web sites whenever you walk toward the home office and the browser is always cleared. You’re worried he is getting into Internet porn – how can you be sure without embarrassing him? This is a conversation that must be had with your child regardless of whether you catch your son looking at porn sites. Porn and sex addictions work the same way in the brain as drugs and alcohol. Regular conversations about the use and dangers of pornography are essential to assure the safety and health of young boys and men. “As Christians, we are obliged to reject pornography not only because it degrades our souls but also because it dehumanizes other human beings,” shares Marybeth.
- Your son wants to play the same video games as his friends, but the games they play are too violent – he says you’re too strict. Research shows that children ages seven to twelve routinely play games rated M for mature audiences – the most violent and graphic kind. The combination of realistic graphics, acts of aggression and violence create a morally compromising experience. Seeking out immoral thoughts and feelings has a consequence to a child’s heart and soul, even if he or she doesn’t act on them in “real life.”
“In the end, you’ll never know which moments mattered the most in your child’s life. Through the years, I’ve delivered what I thought were monologues of maternal greatness that I know my kids tuned out, while my comments made in passing were often the very coaching or encouragement they needed to imprint their hearts with a lesson borne of love,” shares Marybeth. God asks us to mold and form our children to live moral lives that fulfill his purposes for them. Proverbs 22:6 reminds us, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
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