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22 June 2006



Wonderful advice Stavros. I second the recommendation on Fr. Coniaris' book, very practical and applicable advice for Orthodox Christian Parents.


Steve, Maine is well recognized to be one of the "least churched" states in the US. I lived next door to a "missionary" sent to Maine to start a church. What you see in the lives of the kids in your practice is what happens to children without any solid foundation. Moving back to the Midwest has shown me what a difference that foundation makes in the lives of young people. There's a lot of media complaining about the fundamentalist Christians here in the Midwest , but I have yet to have one parent come in asking that their 13 year old daughter be on birth control "just in case." These kids finish school, go to college, wait to have children because they've been given a moral foundation based on a truth larger than themselves. In Maine, a lot of parents either weren't given that foundation themselves or they don't want to teach values to their children because they need to find their "own way". When a child believes in nothing, she will fall for anything....


Went to a child psychiatry conference at University of Vermont recently. They were talking about all the things that immunize a child against substance abuse, deliquency, etc. Unfortunately, they did not mention religious education and spirituality. Religion in America is increasingly seen as unimportant and people of faith characterized as fundamentalist "wackos." There is an ongoing attack on the very foundations of the Christian religion. At the same time I think there is a real hunger out there for what many of us have already found in our religious faith. Let's pray that more people will find it and pass it to their children.


You say "The Orthodox Church embraces the child from day one."

What about the notion of original sin?

As someone raised Greek Orthodox, I never understood that logic.

It's cynical, I admit, but I tend to think of it as a way of subjugating people their entire lives.



I don't want to come across as someone who has all the answers. I'll try my best however, to give you my take on the matter, based on what I've learned. The original sin was Adam and Eve turning away from God and making the "world" an end in itself. By alienating himself from God, man has alienated himself from his fellow man and from the world in which he lives. He has become self-centered and sees other people as objects. We see the result of man's preoccupations everyday. Read the paper. God did not give up on us even though mankind turned its back on him. He sent his Son so that "all be saved and come unto the knowledge of truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). Through baptism we "put on" Christ and we are raised from the water, purified from sin, to live a new life united with Christ. It doesn't end there. God gave us free will. His Church can be our spiritual home or we can walk away from God just like Adam and Eve did. Its a decision we all have to make but it's not irrevocable.

If you want more information about what exactly we Orthodox believe, I recommend: "The Faith, Understanding Orthodox Christianity by Clark Carlton

Rich Larson

Excellent and clearly communicated advice to parents... I particular like the focus on consistency - not just of enforcing rules, but of basic vaules that underpin the rules.

I would add some emphasis on the strikingly enormous influence parents have (or the TV and others have, if parents abdicate their role). A. Bandura did some excellent research years ago demonstrating how much of our learned behavior is really set in motion by observing those we are exposed to the most.

If we smoke, our kids will likely smoke. If we are abusive, our kids have a good chance of becoming so.

If we show patience and grace (or at least make very visible effort), our kids just might do so. And if we eat dinner together, go to church together, and develop rituals and traditions together, our children will almost certainly retain great memories, and also devote themselves to providing similar things to their children. I was NOT raised in a conservative home. Quite the opposite. It is thanks to my wife Mary that I am on a moral path at all. I am seeing the fruits of all these ideas just now (and have already seen them in Steve's children, who always amaze me).

In addition, your comment about too much time devoted to careers is one that too many readers might shrug off.

One thing I know from research is that daycare is correlated with behavior problems and damage to children's development of a conscience. The cause of this is unclear, but it is safe to assume that being thrown into a 'dog eat dog' world is a contributing variable. As a children's counselor, I have met many children who dread daycare each day. I have NEVER met one who wished their stay at home mom would go to work so they could all have a bigger house or more expensive car.

As Steve says - time together, church, and living the values you preach - these will give kids the best shot at following a good path.

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