More on modesty

Filipinos have a tradition similar to the Mexican quincinera, simply called a “Debut”.  French society has it, too, popular with the wealthy in New Orleans.  Basically, it’s a coming of age party, to celebrate a girl’s entry into womanhood, and it’s traditionally an 18th birthday party.


I recently attended one of these for the daughter of a friend of ours, and was generally impressed by the upbringing of her, and all her friends.  There were no pierced lips, noses, etc.  None of the girls had tattoos (that I could see), though some of the adults did.  The debutante was beautiful, nice hair, makeup and a nice, modest flowing gown.  She was gorgeous.  I’ve always thought this girl was pretty.  Her brother is also very handsome.  And both of them are so conservative regarding their modesty.  Both are vowed to be chaste.  The girl will be playing basketball on scholarship to the University of Hawaii.  She’s good.  Her brother is also physically gifted.  He’s always been there to protect her, too.

Mom and Dad were beaming ear to ear, as they should have been.  They have everything to be proud of.  Despite the ways of the world, the way their classmates were brought up (generally), and the message the world tries to give, besides their parents, the people they look up to are two priests. So the party was really very nice-held in a country club, an exclusive country club, with lots of paid camera people around taking pictures, and an Emcee, and the whole 9 yards. Other than the fact that dinner wasn’t served until after 8:00, the only thing I said to our host was that I wished her daughter would become a leader to her friends.  Our host understood what I was saying almost immediately.

Aside from the cotillion of tuxedos and princess gowns, the invited girls who came were all dressed in just so…little.  As we entered the ballroom, we had to climb a flight of stairs, and the girls in front of us, I feared for them-as they climbed the stairs, I wondered what might be visible from a lower point of view.  I didn’t wonder long, I cast my eyes down, to preserve their dignity, and my own purity.  But the question remains, do they think of these things when they buy the garment, or do they shrug it off for the sake of being like the other girls?  The debutante, I know, had she been a guest, would not have worn such a thing.  Why? I think it’s because of the way she was raised.

And so I implore you parents out there…start teaching your kids Virtue at an early age.  Visit this article, and see if it helps.

A universal concern among Catholic parents committed to their faith  is communicating the Catholic faith and its morality to their children. They  wish to see their offspring embrace the faith and avoid the corrupting  influences of the secular culture.

An essential component in the instruction of youth  is the practice of virtue, good habits that properly dispose them to receive and  benefit from God’s grace. (Or, as 13th-century theologian St. Thomas Aquinas  succinctly says, “Grace builds on nature.”)

Parents can effectively teach their children to  practice virtue, even in modern society, by providing homes that nurture good  habits.

Dr. Ray Guarendi (, a psychologist, EWTN  host and Register contributor, says that virtue is something that requires  development. It begins with teaching children good habits, with virtue  being “the accumulation of good habits over time.”

As Guarendi remarked, “The average 6-year-old is  going to lie, for example. The parent can discipline that child, showing  him there are consequences for that lie; and, over time, most children will come  to realize that it is not a good thing to lie. Telling the truth for  truth’s sake is something that comes later.”

Many parents frequently complain that the culture  is negatively impacting their children, he said, noting that “they believe the  culture is a tsunami, a vortex, with bad influences coming into their homes in  an unprecedented way due to technology.”

Many parents “wake up to the power of the culture  years too late,” he continued, and “are shocked at the attitudes, beliefs and  character manifested by their 15-year-olds.”

That’s why discipline should come in an atmosphere  of unconditional love, with parents remaining vigilant in instilling virtue in  their children. They must also set a good example, Guarendi says. In order  to establish credibility, parents must practice virtue themselves.

The Catholic faith plays a crucial role in  properly raising children, he asserts, because “without the faith, there are no  absolutes.”

When writing his book Back to the Family,  Guarendi interviewed many strong families and recognized the importance of  religious faith. As he explained, “Some ask, ‘Are you saying you can’t  raise good kids without religion?’ You can, but how do you decide right and  wrong?  Religion gives parents a moral authority that is greater than just  their opinions or preferences; it is that of the God of the universe.”

Teaching virtue to children begins with integrity,  according to James Stenson (, who has spoken to scores of  parents and written a series of books related to parenting.

“It is a word used a lot, but many cannot easily  define it,” he said. “It is related to the word ‘integer,’ which means  unity or unity of word and action. You need to tell the truth and keep your  word. It is absolutely critical in all we do, and it has ramifications on how we  live our faith.” For example, when a student turns in a paper at school,  integrity means that it is his or her work.

Proper moral formation, he continued, involves the  child moving his focus away from himself to others.

As an educator, Stenson believes that only a small  part of a child’s moral formation occurs at school: “Ninety percent of what  children learn occurs in the home; the school should support parents in that  endeavor.”

On his website, Stenson offers a variety of free  parenting materials, the most popular of which is his “The Power of We,” a  compilation of rules for successful family life from parents he has spoken  with. They include such things as saying please and thank you, worshipping  God together and not belittling others. As Stenson remarked, “Parents  should live a certain way and then get their children to join them.”

Parents must also focus on what sort of men and  women their kids will become, he said: “When parents see themselves as raising  adults, not children, they will better understand what can stay the same and  what needs to change.”

Stenson has also written Successful  Fathers. In a culture increasingly known for absent dads, Stenson stressed  that fathers need to invest time with their children and be loving protectors of  their wives and children.

Most of all, children should be encouraged to  develop a “lifelong friendship with Jesus Christ.”

Stenson gave the example of a priest who was  praying his Breviary in church when a 6-year-old boy with a toy car came  in. After a clumsy genuflection, the boy held up his car. The priest  asked what he was doing, and the boy said, “I just got this car for my birthday,  and I’m showing it to the Lord Jesus.” The priest smiled and said, “You go  right ahead!”

As Stenson said, “The priest knew if that little  guy could maintain this friendship with Jesus he could not only be a great man  but a great saint.”

Children should also understand that being  Catholic is part of the family pedigree. “Parents need to tell their  children that the faith has been in the family for generations,” Stenson  encouraged.

Father Rocky Hoffman, executive director of  Relevant Radio ( and host of Go Ask Your Father,  speaks to parents about five important virtues they ought to teach their  children: work, sincerity, piety, poverty and purity. All of this is in addition  to love within the family.

Regarding work, Father Hoffman said, “Work is the  original vocation of human beings in the second chapter of Genesis. God told  Adam and Eve to till the garden and keep it, even before the Original Sin.”

Frequent confession can be an invaluable aid in  growing in sincerity (or honesty), and piety involves “developing a prayer life  and affection for God,” the priest explained.

Poverty involves detachment from material goods  and “training youth to be generous from an early age,” he said, suggesting that  when giving allowances to children that parents divide the money into three  jars: save, share and spend. Money from the “share” jar could then be  placed in the church collection, as a way of instructing the children on the  concept of tithing.

Purity is based on the virtue of temperance (or  self-control), he said, and it is essential for parents to model chastity to  children. He noted, “It is unrealistic to expect children to be chaste if  parents use artificial contraceptives; even though it is never talked about, the  kids will know.”

Father Hoffman also stresses the importance of  love: “When Mom and Dad love each other, kids know that they love each  other. When Mom and Dad love their kids, kids know that they love  them. When Mom and Dad love their faith, then the kids love their  faith.”

Jim Graves writes from

Newport Beach, California.

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