When heroes fall

(AL 107). (When Heroes Fall, Helping Kids Cope, TO Nov 2011, p 7)

How do we help keep kids from becoming disillusioned or cynical when those they admire are caught in a scandal? And how can we make sure they are not misled by bad examples? Here are three tips for making sure our kids aren’t stung too badly by fallen heroes:

1.    Give them heroes they can count on. Make sure your children know the saints — men and women who lived truly virtuous lives and can be counted upon to be good examples. Holy cards, medals and developmentally appropriate books and movies about the lives of the saints can be important tools in encouraging devotion to holy men and women. A good place to begin might be with saints who share the child’s name, or saints whose child- hood is part of the story. Teens are often intrigued by stories of courageous young people who went against the grain. St. Maria Goretti and St. Dominic Savio are excellent examples. Young kids especially often follow our leads. Do we show devotion to saints with whom they might be able to identify?

2.    Use a hero’s fall to talk about our universal vulnerability to temptation. All of us have areas of weakness, and all of us sin. Having an unusual amount of talent and notoriety doesn’t make people immune to (and may sometimes actually make them more vulnerable to) these human liabilities.

3.    Reassure your child that he or she can always count on God. While human beings will continually fail us, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will never let us down.

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