Parental Guide to Couch Potatoes

Sofa happiness is one of the new cultural drugs.  In Poland during World Youth Day Pope Francis urged the youth to make a mark in the world and to not to be couch potatoes.

Said Pope Francis:

Sofa happiness is “probably the most harmful and insidious form of paralysis, since little by little, without even realizing it, we start to nod off, to grow drowsy and dull while others – perhaps more alert than we are, but not necessarily better – decide our future for us. For many people in fact, it is much easier and better to have drowsy and dull kids who confuse happiness with a sofa. For many people, that is more convenient than having young people who are alert and searching, trying to respond to God’s dream and to all the restlessness present in the human heart,” he said on Sunday while addressing the crowd.

He went on to say that we “came for another reason: to leave a mark. It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark. But when we opt for ease and convenience, for confusing happiness with consumption, then we end up paying a high price indeed: we lose our freedom.”

How do we get our kids off the couch to leave a mark; changing the world for the better?

Here are three ways to start:

1. It starts with YOU as the parent.

Parents leave a mark on their kids, so we need to teach our children moderation in using electronics and watching T.V.

Children will imitate their parents, the good and the bad.  When parents sit around at night and most of the weekend watching T.V., not spending time with their children, their kids will most likely end up doing the same. This is not to say sports fans can’t watch football, tennis, or their favorite sports, Saturday nights can’t be family movie night, or kids can’t play some video games. Like anything, it must be in moderation and it starts with the parents limiting their own T.V. time.

2.  Put on shoes and get out of the house.

  • Moderate T.V. and electronic use must be balanced with putting on shoes and getting out of the house.
  • Parents must force their kids to have an adventure.
  • Go do things as a family.
  • Explore areas of the city or mountains you never have.
  • Take up new hobbies. Spend time enjoying God’s creation.

More importantly, teach your children early on acts of kindness, charity, and getting involved in the community.

Donate time at food banks, food shelters, elderly homes, pro-life women clinics, or wherever your heart is calling you to serve.

In addition to donating time at different places, when you see someone who needs food, clothes, is lonely, or is in someway down-and-out, take the time to help them. Your children will learn that helping others is more rewarding than shooting zombies on their Xbox or PlayStation.

3. Pray and Read.

This last one is a combination.

First, set a regular prayer schedule to teach your children the importance of prayer. It also begins to establish a habit that will hopefully last the rest of their lives.  Prayer will, if not now, center their lives to see what is important, drawing their minds away from what’s on T.V. or their videogames.  The mind and heart must be filled with more than images from the black box.  Marilyn Manson once said in a song that “God is in the T.V.” Children, and parents, often learn their morals and beliefs from what comes out of the box. It’s become the altar and center piece of most homes, teaching families how to act, what to wear, and what’s socially acceptable.

Taking up prayer will refocus the heart and mind to meditate on what is above, not what is earthly.

Second, reading will teach your children to use their imagination.  This reading should include opening the Gospels, New Testament Epistles, and Old Testament Scriptures, so that they learn who God is and what he expects from His children.  Not reading the Scripture is like a parent telling his child important life listens that will save his life before he goes on a journey, and the whole time the child has ear plugs in.

Reading books and literature is important to cultivate the mind and set the imagination free. Many children, and many adults, have lost their sense of using their imagination, and once imagination is lost, so is the spark of life.

These are just three of many ways to get children off the sofa. These will hopefully also lead children to become good citizens and to help others.  Leaving a mark is simple, if we live by example by leaving more time to explore God, life, and the world around us.

This article, Parental Guide to Couch Potatoes is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

Dustin P.J. Murphy

Dustin is an attorney with the Federal Government and has a LL.M specialty in International & Operational Law. He holds a B.A. in philosophy and did M.A. work in philosophy.

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