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Bad Parenting

July 29, 2019 (409 words)

I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but all three of our sons have turned out to be libertarians. (They also wear black socks with their sneakers, but I can only deal with one heresy at a time.)

They are 27, 22, and 19 years old, respectively. The oldest is married and the father of three adorable young children. Our boys are courteous and thoughtful, qualities which their mother is solely responsible for successfully inculcating. So my dear wife is off the hook when it comes to tracing the roots of their wayward political views.

They profess to be Catholic, say grace before meals, and attend Mass regularly. But somehow all three have managed to avoid any familiarity with Catholic social teaching. Instead they take their cue from right-wing blogs and internet sites.

A papal encyclical, what’s that?

I get the same old refrain from them that I hear from all my successful friends and fellow small business owners: Keep the government out of our lives. If you earn it, you should be able to keep it. The welfare state is destroying our nation’s character. Unions are always bad news. Who is going to pay for all these free hand-out government programs? And all the rest, ad nauseam.

That my own flesh and blood has succumbed to the either/or mindset of the liberal-conservative dialectic is a crying shame. Their inability to muster a more nuanced approach to these matters is a grave disappointment. Obviously I have done something horribly wrong in my past life, for which I am now being paid back, with interest.

Concerning that past life, I was 30 when I first began to consider that perhaps my father wasn’t a complete fool. I was 40 when I returned to the faith, after a twenty year sojourn in the desert of prosperity. And it wasn’t until I hit 50 or so that it dawned on me the old man had pretty much been right about everything.

So if our sons follow my own trajectory, I shouldn’t be holding my breath, waiting for their epiphany to kick in. Looking on the bright side, though, at least none of them have walked away from their belief and practice, as I once did.

Even if their understanding of the Catholic faith as it pertains to our economic behavior still leaves a good bit to be desired.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr.
July 29, 2019

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