Each morning before my sister
Karen puts her seven-year-old
son, Russell, on the school bus,
the two of them repeat their
“Be a...” she begins.
“good listener,” answers Russell.
“hands to myself.”
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
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
Next Month: Facing Down Violence