Raising Your Family’s Awareness

“In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, No. 5).

Use Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship to help raise your family’s awareness of what it means to be a faithful citizen and act responsibly. Here are some suggested activities.

Look for TV shows that address one of the issues mentioned in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. An example may be a news show, documentary, or even a sitcom that is treating some current political or social topic. The key is to check out the show ahead of time and then watch the show together. Just “wander in” and sit down while your children are viewing it. Or decide ahead of time that you will watch a specific show together. However you do it, the most important thing is to talk about the show’s topic. Share your thoughts and listen to their thoughts without being judgmental. Sometimes the only talking you can do is at the TV, but that’s okay. They’ll hear it.

Question, question, question. The bishops’ statement lists “Goals for the Campaign.” Rephrase these goals as questions, so your children can relate to them. For example, “I wonder how much money the person who sews the clothes we buy earns, or how much the farmer who grows the food we eat receives of the price we pay?” “Why are some people poor when so many people are rich?” “I wonder where we would go for health care if we didn’t have insurance?” Do some research together if the questions lead to further discussion.

Look at billboards and television advertisements for various candidates, and critique the advertisements as a family. Do the candidates address any of the issues mentioned in the statement? How well?

Pick out a few short excerpts from the statement, rephrase them for your children, and post them on your refrigerator. Try these: “The answer to violence is not more violence.” “Every child should have the opportunity to be born and to feel welcomed.” “Make the needs of the poor a priority.” “Safe and affordable housing should be available for all.” Try to find candidates or elected officials who support these positions by their policies and actions.

As a dinner prayer in the days leading up to election, read one of the scriptural passages referenced in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

Contact your library to get good children’s books that deal with the issues. Some of the Dr. Seuss books are excellent for this.

Have a family night on “citizenship.” Choose one or two issues that are of particular interest to your family. For example, if you have an aging relative in a nursing home, you may want to pick health care or Medicare reform as your issue to discuss. Make a list of how this issue does or could affect your family. Develop a family statement that summarizes your view on the issue. Write this statement in a letter you send to one of the candidates, inviting their comments.

Identify some heroes-people who have taken a stand on these issues-and learn more about them. Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, and Gandhi are some well known examples. Find local heroes as well. Again, your public library, diocesan social action office, peace and justice office, or pro-life office are great resources.

With older children, reflect and act on The Call to Family, Community and Participation by using the Catholic Campaign for Human Development booklet of that name.

By

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • mkochan

    I thought this idea from the USCCB on talking to our kids about citizenship was really good. I especially like the idea of using certain scenarios to illustrate and personalize policy. Here’s one I thought of:

    Suppose you were a farmer and you wanted to expand your fields onto more of your own land, but the goverment told you that you could not farm 30 acres of bottom land that you owned (that had been part of your family farm for 40 years) because it was “wetland” and had to be preserved. Then suppose you told the government that if it wanted that land, it should pay you for it, but the government said, “No, we don’t want it. You have to still pay taxes on it, but we just won’t let you use it.” How would you feel? (For background see here: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06246/718361-85.stm)

    I’m sure that other CE readers will come up with other great talking points for our kids. Who knows; maybe some of them will make their way into a future USCCB article. ;)

  • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar Ilarsadin

    heh … wetlands were destroyed because, starting with FDR, the Department of Agriculture used to pay farmers to keep “productive” fields fallow. It wasn’t profitable to drain and farm swamps, unless the feds were willing to pay you to stop….

  • kent4jmj

    My 10 year old is starting to ask questions about Republicans, Democrats etc. She wants it black and white. Who’s the good guys and the bad guys. So we talk. It’s a start. She doesn’t like the fact that government is always taxing daddy or making dad get a permit to build something or telling us we can’t have chickens or a milking cow.

    She prays for an end to abortion and that we get a good president in the election. So we talk about freedom and the constitution, rights and the right to life.

  • rakeys

    Yes, talking to our children about social and political issues is very important. Politics and religion are two topics people can get very upset about. We need to teach our children how to talk about them calmly and based on our religios beliefs.
    The topics raised in this article: “The answer to violence is not more violence.” “Every child should have the opportunity to be born and to feel welcomed.” “Make the needs of the poor a priority.” “Safe and affordable housing should be available for all.” Try to find candidates or elected officials who support these positions by their policies and actions.”
    The problemm is finding candidate who supports all of our important topics. I found it interesting that the USCCB did not even mention the “five nonnegotables” in an article about finding “candidates or elected officials who support these positions by their policies and actions.” Why did they not consider abortion, euthanasia, Embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and gay marriage in the topics to consider for discussion in finding a candidate.
    Unfortunately, many of the politicians who “say” they want to help the poor are the ones who do not believe in the five nonnegotiables. And I cannot vote for them!

MENU