How to address the abuse scandal w/ your child?


#1

:confused:

My ds is discussing religion with his Jehovah Witness friend at school, and so far it has been an honest, friendly discussion-- each curious about the belief of the other. The other day my son was told that some churches do bad things (aka sexual abuse of the members) and cover it up. I explained to him that yes, things like that have happened in our church, but it doesn’t mean the whole church is bad because some of the people do bad things. I don’t want to give him too much information about abuse, yet-- I need to further address this with him at a level of his understanding. Is there any sources which can help with this? I saw the article on ‘scandal in the church’ but I’m looking for material geared for the parent to discuss with their child. Can anyone point me to a book, article, etc which deals with this issue?


#2

Not knowing how old your son is, it is hard to offer more specific advice. I would treat this very differently with a 9 year old, than with a 15 or 16 year old.

I would say that this would be a perfect opportunity to inform your youngster about how the sins of some of the members of our faith do not cancel out the truth of it. (Which I’m sure you have.)

Other than that, the age of the child really does matter. With younger children I would focus on the “bigger picture”, but with older children I would use it as an opportunity to instruct them in a bit of apologetics. Get into a little deeper and equip them with information they can use when their friends offer “alternative” viewpoints.

You don’t want your child unprepared when they are ambushed by a friendly debate in school or by friends or teachers.


#3

He’s 9. I didn’t get into the part about sexual abuse-- I asked him what that meant and he said he didn’t know what that meant. What I need is guidance and help in the form of a book, etc. that I can refer to in answering his questions. I’m new here and I think I might have posted this in the wrong forum? If so, I’m sorry about that. I’m not confused about the issue and I’ve learned a lot about apologetics and how to address specific doctrinal questions. I’m not so comfortable explaining how this happened in our Church because I myself can’t understand it. I can’t understand how a priest, especially, let alone anyone-- can do such things and not only that but how it got to the point it did, with so much swept under the rug. Yes, I’ve read Goodbye, good men-- and the background to how the stage was set for such a thing. I need more in the way of how to educate myself so that I can present this to my child at his level. Has there been any books written which deal specifically with the scandal/crisis and helps for parents to talk with their children about it?


#4

I think one thing I would do is separate ‘bad things by individuals’ from ‘the church’ It is not the church’s policy, nor intention to harm any children. These were done by individual men. It was not directed from the Vatican to do these acts, nor to cover them up.

That like saying that ALL teachers should be feared, and we shouldn’t go to school because some individual teachers absused their students.


#5

I don’t know of any specific materials, but I would offer one comment and a piece of unsolicited advice.

As a parent, I know the impulse to EXPLAIN everything to my child. I want her to have knowledge about things so as to enable her to come to logical conclusions and moral decisions.

That said, I had to realize that some things DON’T HAVE ANSWERS. Some things aren’t tied up in a nice little box or book or essay for us to help instruct our kids. I think this might be one of those cases. There were so many failures on so many levels in this situation. You even admitted that you were having a hard time finding reason in the situation. How do we even begin to explain this to children when we ourselves find it so unimaginable?

In these cases, we need to look for a bigger lesson to teach our kids. And more importantly show them that there is still a Church beyond all the troubled men- and that not all priests are troubled in this way.

Maybe you can use this as an oportunity to teach “prayer for our enemies”, and the importance of keeping good communication with your parents.

The point is to not get too worked up about explaining the particulars of a situation that is unexplainable, but to use it to teach things that ARE explainable and ARE great lessons.

May the Lord be with you as you instruct your child.


#6

I’m on the right track, then because I did use the opportunity to teach him that the actions of some don’t define the whole group. I told him that unfortunately there are bad people everywhere, yes even in our church. It doesn’t mean they are all bad, although somehow others can try to connect those dots, even when they aren’t ‘connectable’.

For only 9, he has a mature understanding and a natural questioning nature. He’s more concerned about how his friend can believe such different things than we do as Catholics. We looked up the beliefs of JW’s, read the How to talk w/ JW’s here at Catholic answers and I quickly summed up for him a few of the main differences. He wanted to know how two different churches could both claim to be the One, true Church. I used the opportunity to give a brief overview of church history and our Papal lineage back to the time of Jesus. I think we had a very good discussion, and I learned a few things about the beliefs of JW’s while teaching my son a few things about the Catholic Church. We are a faith-filled family who attends regular Mass, religious instruction and try to use opportunities from daily life to explain our faith. I recently found out that my son prays a decade of the Rosary (on his own!) nightly before he goes to sleep :slight_smile:


#7

[quote=mommabear3]I’m on the right track, then because I did use the opportunity to teach him that the actions of some don’t define the whole group. I told him that unfortunately there are bad people everywhere, yes even in our church. It doesn’t mean they are all bad, although somehow others can try to connect those dots, even when they aren’t ‘connectable’.

For only 9, he has a mature understanding and a natural questioning nature. He’s more concerned about how his friend can believe such different things than we do as Catholics. We looked up the beliefs of JW’s, read the How to talk w/ JW’s here at Catholic answers and I quickly summed up for him a few of the main differences. He wanted to know how two different churches could both claim to be the One, true Church. I used the opportunity to give a brief overview of church history and our Papal lineage back to the time of Jesus. I think we had a very good discussion, and I learned a few things about the beliefs of JW’s while teaching my son a few things about the Catholic Church. We are a faith-filled family who attends regular Mass, religious instruction and try to use opportunities from daily life to explain our faith. I recently found out that my son prays a decade of the Rosary (on his own!) nightly before he goes to sleep :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Congrats Mamma! You sound like you are raising a kind, and Faithful young man. You can be proud!

:blessyou:


#8

At his age, he’s old enough to be told that every group has bad people in it. All church’s are affected by this. Why? Because we are all sinners. No church is exempt from that. So, yes, bad things happen in any church. But that doesn’t mean that that particular group is any worse off than another.

I had to go through something like this with my daughter years ago. That was before I became a catholic. When she was little, I had a bit of a problem figuring out what word would be most appropriate to use concerning her “private parts.” I finally decided on “gentles.” As in Genitals. Well, her daddy got convicted by military court for sexually abusing his oldest step daughter from his second marriage. In sharing this with her, I also had to give it serious thought. She was only six at the time.

Well, of course she had never heard the word “molestation” before. In telling her about him going to jail, and why, I finally settled on “he played with another girls gentles.” She got that right off. And after that, we did talk about what was allowable and what wasn’t. It worked out ok…


#9

In our diocese, everyone who works with children (even us volunteers) are required to complete Virtus workshops and continued on-line training. During RE/CCD this fall, the students will also be having training from Virtus. They have many good articles on their website - www.virtus.org

Learning more yourself can help in explaining things to your child.


#10

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