Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fall Back or Rise Up?

When struggle, battle & sacrifice are demanded the majority complain & clamor for going back to Egypt or spiritual slavery.-- Fulton Sheen

Archbishop Fulton Sheen points out how some people don't respond well to struggles and challenges. He compared us to the Israelites in the Old Testament, who when confronted with the prospect of dying in the desert, groaned and complained to Moses that they were "better off" in Egypt as pharaoh's slaves.

Parents and teachers might say they've heard similar groaning and complaining from their children and students, who back away when confronted with a challenge. Kids attempt all kinds of excuses-- 

"I can't do it."
"I'm no good at this."
"I'll never get it done."
"I'll never pass this test."
"Everyone else is better than me."
"It's too hard for me."

It's easier to fall back on old excuses and to live under the tyranny of past failures than it is to rise up to the challenge and overcome it. (I believe sometimes we adults do the same thing!) But how do we assist our children and students in overcoming this negative attitude? 

As with all things, it helps to start by casting the problem in a spiritual light. Start with prayer. Say, "Let's take a second to ask God to be a part of this challenge. With his power supporting you, anything is possible!" (Phil. 4:13)

Then, remind the child of the different ways God has provided for him or her in the past. Cite examples of God's goodness and care in the child's life.

Realize that lack of perseverance and an unwillingness to try are vices for which fortitude, the virtue that "strengthens the resolve to . . . overcome obstacles in the moral life" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1808), is the answer. Assist the child in breaking the task into smaller, more achievable steps. Remember to thank God at each small success, as you build the child's sense of competency upon the foundation of his or her creation in God's image.

 Photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc


  1. It's always important to encourage your kids, especially with their faith. I like the suggestion of incorporating faith into encouragement.