What One Mother Did to Rescue Her Kids

What would you do if you realized your kids were in trouble?  That they were rejecting everything you and your husband were trying to instill in them about faith and the true meaning of life.  That they were taking their cues from the culture and not you.  And what if you figured out that the Catholic schools they attended were undermining those teachings, too?

One mother, along with her husband, took a radical step.  She sold her law practice and he left his job and they moved with their four children to “a strong faith-filled diocese” in a more “conservative part of the country.”

Writing for Catholic Education Daily, a publication of the Cardinal Newman Society, Susan Fox tells her remarkable story.

It was when her children hit their teen years that things started to go wrong.  They turned to their peers, who were following the culture which, she writes, “comes across as ‘loving’ and ‘caring’ and tolerant.’  Yet it is a culture that kills.”  At the same time, in the Catholic schools her children attended, they “were taught that all lifestyles were the same, and that sin did not matter.”

She watched as her children’s lives – and the lives of their friends – began to unravel.   “As our children’s hearts broke,” she writes, “they had to turn to ways to dull the pain.  Alcohol and drug abuse followed shortly behind.  Then, of course, mental and emotional problems.”  Fox says that at their daughters’ Catholic girls’ high school, eating disorders and abortions were common.  During her son’s last year at what she calls his “tolerant” Catholic boys’ high schools, several boys committed suicide. 

So what happened when they moved?  Fox says it took a couple of years before her children began “to regain their senses.”  But the real turning point came when they dragged them to a youth conference at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  “There, for the first time, they saw the Reality of their Faith lived out.  They saw REAL ‘tolerance,’ the kind that comes with Truth in Love.  It was solid, it was real, it was life-giving.  Like Jesus.”

Fox’s describes her four now-grown children as “on fire for their faith.”

Reading Fox’s story brought to mind a book I just finished reading.  Written by pediatrician and psychologist Leonard Sax, The Collapse of Parenting is one of the best books I’ve ever read on the subject of raising children.  It’s not written from a religious perspective, but it’s chock-full of information every parent should have.  Dr. Sax saw in his many of his adolescent patients the same problems Fox saw in her children.  Thanks to a combination of timid parents and the hyper-connectedness social media provides, he believes that for most adolescents their primary attachment is to their peers and not their families.  That means they turn to other kids for guidance about what matters.  Beyond that, Sax believes, is the serious issue of seeking approval and love.  Parents love their children unconditionally.  Peers do not.  Talk about a recipe for disaster.

Dr. Sax and his wife also made the decision to pick up stakes and move for their child.  They wanted to be near extended family, near other like-minded adults who could be positive role models in their child’s life and help counter the negative influences of both peers and the culture.