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The Choices We Make
By Susan Hines-Brigger

Q U I C K S C A N

Much-needed Support
Go Ahead, Make Your Choice
For Teens: Be Informed
For Kids: What's Your Choice?

Each morning before my sister Karen puts her seven-year-old son, Russell, on the school bus, the two of them repeat their morning mantra.

“Be a...” she begins.

“good listener,” answers Russell.

“Keep your...”

“hands to myself.”

“Make...”

“good choices.”

Then she kisses him and sends him on his way.

For most parents, this encounter may sound uneventful, perhaps even a no-brainer. But for Russell it’s important. As I’ve written before in this column, he has his struggles with developmental delays. So for Russell, the distinction between making good and bad choices on a daily basis means a lot. It can mean the difference between a good and bad day.

I doubt that most of us give as much forethought to the choices we make on a daily basis. On any given day, we probably make hundreds of choices. Most of them are pretty easy to make. But it is important to remember that even the smallest choices have consequences.

Adam and Eve learned that the hard way. They probably didn’t think it was such a big deal when they took that apple from the tree in the Garden of Eden. But guess what? Our choices do mean something.

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There is certainly no shortage of important issues facing us today, both as citizens of the world and as Catholics, such as abortion, stem-cell research, war, immigration, the environment, health care, end-of-life issues, the death penalty—and the list goes on.

Luckily, we have a great support system as we struggle to make such difficult choices. Our faith tradition, with its many teachings and teaching documents, can be a valuable asset in navigating our way through difficult issues.

And even if we differ from how our bishops or the pope view an issue, their work provides us with a clear and solid point of view.

Go Ahead, Make Your Choice

As we make the many choices of our lives—both big and small—here are some things to remember:

Be in the know. Try to be as informed as possible before making choices. For larger issues that you may not fully understand, seek out information from experts. One great resource for issues directly related to Catholics is the U.S. bishops’ Web site—www.usccb.org. On that site you can read statements the bishops have made on any number of important issues or find information provided by the various bishops’ committees. You can also search this web site for articles on any number of topics from this magazine or its sister publications.

Trust yourself. As a parent, I know that I’m constantly worrying about the choices my husband, Mark, and I make for our kids. From the time we announced we were pregnant with our first child, we’ve been bombarded with advice from experts, other parents, even strangers. With three kids now, though, Mark and I have learned to trust our instincts regarding what is best for our kids.

Make room for bad choices. It’s a given that we’re not always going to make good choices. Thankfully, we can make up for those times by taking part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Every choice counts. Even though a particular choice might not seem like a big deal at the time we make it, try to think of the long-term implications. For instance, you might not think that choosing to eat unhealthy foods is a big deal. But if you continue to make that choice, your health will suffer over time.

Next Month: Facing Down Violence

 

For Teens: Be Informed

During your teenage years, you begin to form your own opinions and beliefs about many important issues. This also means a great deal of responsibility. As you make decisions about those many issues, you want to make sure that you are as informed as possible. You can do that in a lot of ways.

One way to learn about issues in which you’re interested is to get involved. Many schools have clubs related to various issues, such as a pro-life club, an environmental club or clubs related to any number of social-justice issues. Join one of them. Talk to someone doing work on the issue you’re checking out. Or volunteer at a place related to that issue, such as a problem pregnancy center or the local animal shelter.

For Kids: What's Your Choice?

Do you like chocolate or vanilla ice cream? Is your favorite season summer or winter? Many of our choices make up who we are and what people know about us. We can also learn more about other people by their choices.

Try it out on your family and friends. Make a list of questions where the person has to choose between two things. Some questions you might ask are: Are you a morning or night person? Would you rather go on vacation to the beach or mountains? Do you like dogs or cats better? Would you rather watch football or baseball?

I bet you’ll even be surprised by some of the answers.

 

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to Family@franciscanmedia.org.


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