menu

Overly Strict Parenting: Catholic Traditionalist Self-Critique

Overly Strict Parenting: Catholic Traditionalist Self-Critique August 13, 2021

I cross-posted the following two tweets on my Facebook page on 8-3-21:

A hard pill for many TLM devotees to swallow is the fact that kids from these families are leaving the Church at the same rate as everyone else. (Traditionalist Fr. Ryan Hilderbrand: 8-2-21)
I’ve seen this in my own life. Overly strict TLM [Traditional Latin Mass] families (or even NO [Novus Ordo / New Mass] families – but TLM families do this more) almost always have kids who go nuts the minute they get some freedom. (Traditionalist / reactionary Steve Skojec: 8-2-21)
Much discussion then ensued:
*
Victor Ravelo (VR): Why would it be hard for them to “swallow the pill?” The language here is unnecessary. I don’t attend the Latin Mass, but can’t we just leave these people in peace?
*
Dave Armstrong (DA): These are self-critiques of people in the movement. They’re relevant because so many TLM folks blithely assume that they are so much more orthodox and better Catholics than the rest of us peasants. That’s why it’s a “hard pill”: because it wasn’t supposed to be that way.
*
Don’t doubt me on that: I have been watching these groups as an apologist for over 25 years. Therefore, if the above is true, it is one counter to such self-absorbed claims.
*
I’m more than happy to let them worship as they please and do whatever they like. Unfortunately, too many among them want to run down those of us who worship differently, along with the pope, Vatican II, and the Pauline Mass. Given that, they deserve every bit of criticism they receive. Goose and gander. If they wanna dish it out, then they gotta take it, too. But again, the above is self-criticism, so I think it carries much more force. That’s why I cited this, because it was thought-provoking.
*
VR: That’s not my experience of “those folks,” but I certainly respect your opinion. I guess they know better than to approach me in an arrogant manner because I’ve never experienced it.
*
DA: I guess, after one has been falsely called a “modernist” or “theological liberal” innumerable times [yours truly] one gets a certain impression of felt superiority from the accusers.
*
This is one reason why I draw a sharp distinction between legitimate traditionalists (which I am close in spirit to in many ways) and radical Catholic reactionaries. It is the latter class where these deficient attitudes are rampant.
*
VR: Is that contact from behind the keyboard? I wonder if in-person dialogue would feel differently.
*
DA: Largely Internet, because that is part of what I do: monitor the public expression of traditionalists / reactionaries. But I have known them in person, too. I’ve had several in my home at my group discussions: including Phillip Campbell, who runs the influential Unam Sanctam Catholicam site. I haven’t met Timothy Flanders, but we have a warm personal relationship as a result of many constructive dialogues.
I attended a Novus Ordo Latin Mass for 25 years and several TLM Masses as well: going back as far as 1990, when I crossed the river from Detroit to Windsor, Canada, to attend one when it wasn’t even available in metro Detroit yet.
*
Michael Speyrer: because it would force them to accept the reality a lot of this has nothing to do with whether for not you sing Gregorian chant at mass.
*
Nick Alexander: There is no guaranteed approach to raising kids in the faith. The best one can do is to provide a balance of experiences, coupled with solid home apologetics. Don’t allow the kids to grow up resentful of missing out of something, but be there for those moments where you could counteract any lies from the world.
*
DA: I think the best way is to model what being a disciple of Jesus ought to be like: someone who loves others like Jesus loves us and follows the moral teachings of the Bible and Holy Mother Church. By God’s grace and a lot of sweat and toil parents must strive to always do that, and to quickly repent when we fail to do so. Our children are watching us very closely.
*
Ian Rutherford (IR): I’m still waiting for someone to provide something other than anecdotal evidence here.
*
DA: I’m not sure that exists, but maybe.
*
IR: It seems that taking anecdotes as general fact when most TLM families have probably not even been going to the TLM long enough to have kids graduating high school is a bit of a leap.
*
DA: It was a self-critique. Take it up with them on Twitter. I’m just the messenger. If we figure since 2007 and Summorum Pontificum, that’s 14 years: enough time to raise a child from kindergarten to 19 years old (i.e., post-high school and into college age). So now we’re seeing how that works out. Again, I had no opinion on this (hardly ever gave it a thought). I’m simply noting here what traditionalists / reactionaries themselves say.
*
IR: I actually did ask on Twitter and didn’t get a reply.
*
DA: Let me know when you do. Fr. Ryan thought Skojec had written something about this, but Skojec didn’t recall any such article. But he did concur from his experience. And he is in a position to know, dontcha think? Anecdotalism is not nothing or of no import. It’s simply not to the level of scientifically controlled studies and polling. Every wise doctor incorporates the anecdotes and reports of their patients.
*
Trebor Lefebvre (TL):  Dave, the staff of the small, independent Catholic colleges in the the US would have some valuable experience in this regard. They’ve see a few generations of students now, and it would be interesting to know their general observations.
*
DA: Yes it would. Of course, the students who would go to such colleges are already the “cream of the crop” and so wouldn’t be accurately representative of Catholic kids as a class.
*
TL: the experience of these college admins would offer insights into a general (non-scientific) comparison of so-called strict traditional-style Catholic families vs. relaxed traditional-style Catholic families. I consider myself a traditional-style Catholic, and I’m never quite sure of the best balance on strict vs. relaxed.
*
DA: Agreed. I just think it would be much better to do a scientific study of the entire class of self-described traditionalists and then of the larger Catholic community, to learn more about rates of defection of the next generation of kids from the faith. That would be fascinating to me: as one who has a degree in sociology (and as an apologist).
*
Mike Johnson (MJ): “Overly strict TLM families”. Yes, I have witnessed this myself. The key here being “overly strict”. Applies not only to TLM or even just Catholics. I’ve seen it play out with a Mormon family too.
*
DA: I agree. It reminds me of a variation on the “PK” and “MK” syndrome (that we used to refer to as evangelicals): “pastor’s kids” and “missionary kids.” It’s in the DNA of adolescents to rebel against over-strictness. Skojec (who ran one of the most prominent reactionary sites: One Peter Five) is saying that TLM families on the whole are more guilty of this excessive strictness. I think he is in a position to know, so I take him at his word.
*
IR: What does “overly strict” or “excessive strictness” actually mean? Is it putting filters on the internet? Not allowing your kids to have smart phones? Monitoring what they read, watch, and listen to? Making them learn the faith? Dressing modestly? Not allowing dating? What is the threshold between letting your kids get eaten by the world and “overly strict”?
*
DA: They would have to clarify that. Every parent has to grapple with establishing a happy medium between total “license” and excessive “legalism.” And that’s an issue in the Christian life generally speaking.
*
MJ: Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a hard dividing line. Each child has a different personality and what may be too strict for one, may be perfectly fine for another. We’re dealing with people, after all, not inanimate matter. In the one Catholic family I know that this happened in, only one of the children left and went in the opposite direction. The rest were fine.
*
DA: Very true.
*
Wendy Rodriguez Baiyewu (WRB): The CCD has not been very effective. My four kids that attended both elementary and high Catholic Schools and they are now fallen away. The worldly pleasures are more enticing to them. I used to attend the TLM every month, but not anymore for six years now!
*
DA: Catholic education is yet another sad tale of gross deficiency . . . so sorry to hear of this.
*
WRB: One son went to Gonzaga College high school, the other DeMatha, [my] daughter [went to] St John’s College High school, and my last daughter attended Don Bosco Christo Rey High School: in the DC area!
*
DA: I don’t trust any of them anymore unless they are painstakingly examined as a rare exception to the rule: doctrinally orthodox and morally traditional.
*
Julian Barkin: I would add a caveat: mind you, in Canada a separate (read: Catholic, publicly funded with tax dollars) system is a constitutional right (for now …. If Trudeau or the liberals stay in power who knows.) That caveat is that TLM families at least the children are choosing willfully to reject that environment. Rather with the Novus Ordo families I blame more external influences such as parental lack of devotion to the Faith such as Mass attendance; weak preaching from priests dare they are “cancelled” or “ghetto-ized” and or demoted to associate pastor. Basically, the Novus Ordo kids and honest Catholic parents have much going against them, many ways the Devil is corrupting the faithful, where as the TLM kids seem to be making this choice on their own.
*
Unfortunately I’ve seen this indirectly first hand, from the perspective of seeing former youth ministry kids grow into teens, only to see on their social media (you can be part of a mutual group on Instagram or Facebook and you can control what is displayed and your access … including brief background info,) … that they’ve joined groups of social justice including LGBQT2AIS and everything in between advocacy groups ….. in a “C”atholic/separate school no less.
*
DA: Of course, my solution to all this is homeschooling, but those parents have to be good Catholic role models and good orthodox educators. All four of our children and now two daughters-in-law (now ranging from ages 19 to 30), are solid orthodox Catholics, with traditional Catholic morals. We’re extremely proud of them. We’ve seen a huge difference between the kids in the youth groups, just between the teenage years of our oldest child (born in 1991) and our youngest daughter (born in 2001). Lots of defections from orthodoxy (especially in morals) among my daughter’s friends. It’s alarming. The sexual deviations alone are outrageous and highly disturbing.
*
Now that is anecdotal too, but clearly it is a trend downward. The Church and parents are abysmally failing to keep the youngest generation in the faith. I’m trying to do all I can (i.e., for non-family) through apologetics, which is proven to help people have a stronger faith and a knowledgeable faith, and hence, to be less likely to fall away.
*
Ben Andrew: Dropping a big ol “citation needed” on this one. My experience has been exactly the opposite. Not to mention, there are known statistics that directly contradict the claim made, show far more faithfulness among TLM attendees [provides some data].
*
DA: But (technically) that’s not what this discussion is about: which is: do traditionalist kids fall away from the faith at the same rate as non-traditionalist Catholic kids?
*
Patti Sheffield: That study has flaws that this author identified well. [link provided]
*
Paul Hoffer: It does not matter what form of the Mass one uses: NO, TLM, Byzantine, Ambrosian, Mozarabic, Sarum rite, Anglican use, etc., if children do not learn to adore Christ in the Eucharist, they are not going to attend when they have a choice. “We do not sin when we adore Christ in the Eucharist; we do sin when we do not adore Christ in the Eucharist.” (St. Augustine)
*
Gary Joseph Gornowicz Jr: Interesting to think about. I think that the pivot is are you ready to be a Sacramental adult? Or do you want to shack up for the next 5 -10 years?
*
Monica Bosque (MB): This is nothing to celebrate. Raising children is one of the most daunting challenges that exists. Even the most cursory review of the children of Biblical Patriarchs backs this up (Adam’s son, Cain; Noah’s son, Ham; Isaac’s son, Esau; Jacob’s son, Reuben; David’s sons, Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah. I could go on and on.) It’s sad this rift exists, but not surprising as this is the nature of humankind, which is to say, sinful. . . . I should have resisted the urge to comment, but it all just seems wrong.
*
DA: Who’s celebrating? I thought it was significant because it was two traditionalists saying this. That’s the only reason I posted it. I didn’t force them to say what they did. Again, as I have said, if you are offended by the observation or disagree with it, take it up with them. They are on Twitter.
*
MB: I was very happy to see that you made a distinction between those that simply enjoy and prefer the TLM and those who hold radical beliefs. It just saddens me to see our Church become so splintered. I desire unity, and pray for it daily. I guess reading this post (really, some of the comments, to be honest) at the end of a wearisome day felt like an added brick to the load. I’m thinking of getting off social media altogether, even though I love some of the connections I’ve made. Something to pray about, I guess.
*
Clare Rita Kosmalski: Monica, don’t be discouraged. The Church has always been “splintered,” as you say, even from conflicts described in the New Testament. It’s a testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit that the Church still exists. Stay the course!
*
MB: Thank you for that positive perspective! That’s a very encouraging thought!
*
Matt McDonald: Almost as bad as the kids from underly strict families.
*
Deacon Adrian Ng: It’s true even here in Asia. There was an SSPX family whose kids really hated it and left to join the local Novus Ordo parish!
*
***
*
Photo credit: Mediamodifier (1-13-18) [Pixabay / Pixabay License]
*
***
*
Summary: Fr. Ryan Hilderbrand & Steve Skojec, two traditionalists, tweeted that traditionalist kids fall away from the faith, due to overly strict parenting, at the same rate as non-traditionalist kids.
*

Browse Our Archives