A reader asks me a question I don’t feel very well qualified to answer

Sez he:

While watching the Olympics we saw the Chevy commercial with the gay couple and kids. Since it seems (soon) that we will be seeing such references frequently, do you have any advice for helping parents to talk about these things with our kids? How can we both understand and love? I don’t want the kids thinking about it too much – and I didn’t want them to think about it at all – but I do want them to have clarity and the capacity to act charitably. It seems that the attitude of “dusting-off one’s feet and moving on” is over. The pope calls for love, God calls for love. I want to feel scandalized by sin and not immune or uncaring. I really don’t know how to respond.

My advice is to write Dr. Greg Popcak about this question and see what he says. This is more in his wheelhouse. I don’t want to give you bad advice.

  • Marthe Lépine

    Mark, I just followed the link you give here and the first thing I saw was just another article against anti-depressant medication. Since I had (and still would without medication) a life-long battle with depression, I do know something about this matter and am very well aware of some Christians’ prejudice against treating depression with medication. And based on this, I would wonder how much confidence one should have in Dr. Popcak’s opinions; although they can of course be considered, but only as one opinion among others.

    • Kate Bluett

      When I was pregnant with my second child (who was born on his brother’s second birthday), I ran across an article by Dr. Popcak that said–in so many words, as I remember it–that atachment aprenting is the only method of parenting that accords with Church teaching, and that attachment parenting can’t be done correctly when little ones are spaced less than three years apart, therefore the Church teaches us to space out children at least three years apart. Yeah. Needless to say, I am glad that Dr. Popcak is but one of many voices in the Church.

      On the issue in the OP, there are many solutions that will work for many families. Some don’t watch TV, and avoid the commercials that way. Some will explain it as the child going about the daddy and an uncle, because extended families are good things. Some will tell their children that we live in a fallen world, and that makes it harder to understand love, and sometimes people get confused about the best way to be a family, but we still love confused people because God loves them. Some families will just say a Hail Mary and let the question pass. Families are different, and so are the kids who ask the questions, and the right way to answer the question depends on the family and the kid. Because, contra Dr. Popcak, there isn’t one right, Church-approved method of raising children.

      Pardon my grouchiness, but I have trouble responding charitably when Dr. Popcak’s name is mentioned. Be assured you aren’t the only one who sees something to doubt in his writing.

      • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

        I, too, get grouchy when Dr. Popcak’s name gets mentioned. That hard-core “attachment parenting is the only method of parenting that accords with church teaching” stuff makes me roll my eyes. I’m not a parent, and I’m even attracted to some of the principles and ideas behind attachment parenting, but laying a guilt trip on all my friends and sisters (which is what articles like that do) over something so varied across world cultures is just a wee bit arrogant.

    • UAWildcatx2

      Your battle with your condition is, I don’t doubt, in many people’s prayers (mine included). I think, though, that a fair assessment of the article by Dr. Popcak is important – he isn’t demonizing antidepressant medication; in fact, he states that in severe cases of depression, medication can be useful. But, in cases of mild to moderate depression, therapy may be the better option, considering that antidepressants can (as we’ve seen for a while now) cause suicidal thoughts. That fact is nothing new. What this article states is that there are higher than previously-thought levels of suicidal thoughts and emotional numbness.

    • Jeff

      I’ve also had serious issues with depression, and anxiety, which were alleviated significantly by medication, so I tend to be a little sensitive to suggestions that antidepressants are unnecessary crutches or whatever pejorative euphemism is popular at a given moment, BUT –

      I think you’re being a bit hard on the good doctor. As another commenter…commented, he maintained their usefulness in severe depression and cited a scientific study that provided some useful context in terms of psychological side effects balanced against an impressive success rate (82% of respondents reported the medication worked to improve their frame of mind); I think that sort information is useful to have when considering a course of treatment.

      So, it seems like a very balanced approach, though nobody could dispute your point that his opinion is only one among many worthy of consideration. =D

  • BHG

    It is a struggle because society assumes–thanks to the gay lobby–that two people of the same sex living together are engaging in sex. We also need to stop defining ourselves and others by our romantic attractions–we are so much more than that. Maybe it’s time to stop buying into those concepts altogether by refusing to be goaded into a response on that level. Maybe explain: God gives us friendships and a holy friendship is a wonderful thing. Let the child direct the conversation and be sure you have a good feel for his level of understanding before you go adding information you would just as soon put off until later. We tend to overcomplicate things too soon. I am reminded of the joke where a four year old comes home and asks where babies come from. Dad launches into the biological particulars. When he’s finished, the kid looks at him funny and says,”Joey says they come from hospitals.”

    • Dave G.

      I get the feeling the reader is speaking about times in which it is made crystal clear that we’re not talking about a friendship between two individuals of the same gender.

      • BHG

        serious question here, no agenda: are you asking me for clarification?

        • Dave G.

          No, I was trying to clarify. The question seems to be aimed at commercials making it clear that the couple involved is in the same type of relationship as a male/female counterpart (romantic and all that it entails).

  • SteveP

    Reader: advertisements are acted just like movies are acted; explain to your children that acting encourages the actor to assume a false persona as directed. There is no realism in acting, there is only suspension of disbelief on the audience’s part. Put another way, the more gullible the person, the more realistic the performance.

    Truth, what is real, comes from the Father through our Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com/ Ben @ 2CM

    For one thing, don’t watch live TV. We record shows and commercials are skipped. I don’t want random messages sent into my home. Of course, one can’t just “run/hide”. Teach kids theology of the body as soon as reasonable. It can be done. We used theology of the body for middle-school from Ascension Press with our oldest who is 12.

    Click HERE.

    • Francisco J Castellanos

      Good resource. Txs for the link Ben.

  • Gabriel Blanchard

    I don’t see why this would need be dealt with differently, in and of itself, than other couples. Suppose that the commercial makes it plain that this gay couple is sexually active. Or let’s make it a TV show. Surely discussing this could be dealt with in the same way one would deal with the many fornicating, co-habiting, and divorced couples that TV sets forth?

    On the one hand, the fact that two people love each other is a good thing in itself, and something we’re going to run into in life a lot; on the other, people often express that love in misguided and unchristian ways, even selfish ones, which we can’t pretend to approve (even and especially when it’s ourselves expressing love in those ways); but we are called by God to show His love to people where they are, rather than where they ought to be or where we’d like them to be. And we must at one and the same time realize that God’s design for chastity is peculiarly unknown and unacceptable to our present culture, so that we need not be shocked when we see that fact manifested (nor brimstone-mouthed about it, fearing for our own safety before God’s judgment seat); and yet nevertheless God’s design persists and we must be faithful to it, out of trust in Him.

  • Cypressclimber

    First, when folks ask, what do I tell my kids about ____, I think the answer is, “the truth,” but in an age-appropriate way. So I’ve heard this question asked about — to fill in the blank above — abortion, contraception, divorce, masturbation, what does gay mean, etc.

    I’m not a parent; but I’ve had to explain things to kids. It’s possible to explain really complex, heady and delicate things in simple, clear, and delicate terms — but it can take a lot of effort. I guess I always assumed parents would, after some early missteps, start anticipating some of these questions and work out their answers ahead of time.

    A second point: I think it’s appropriate, at some stage, to help children become savvy about the media. I would think that’s absolutely necessary, if you’re going to allow them to be media consumers. Somewhere along the line, my parents explained, “they’re trying to sell you something, honey.”

    When I say, you have to work out the answers, it may be parents sit down with a notepad, and write out some explanations and role-play. That may sound silly, but seriously, why would it be silly? If you don’t want to handle it “on the fly,” why not do it this way?


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