Today we had the pleasure to visit with friends, a lovely Catholic homeschooling family whose children are wonderful role models for ours. Respectful, polite, generous, and kind, their older teenage children (all boys) exemplified one of the virtues I frequently see among homeschooling families -- the older children not only tolerate the younger ones, but they genuinely welcome them warmly and are happy to be helpful (even with urchins like mine!).
Since this family's children are significantly older than ours, the family already has established usage rules for their kids' time on the computer, particularly on the internet.
Like us, their family computer is centrally located by the kitchen, making the wide screen within easy sight of anyone passing through the house. (Not once did I see any of their five children in the all-too-common isolated posture of a teenager with head bent, shoulders slouched, and thumbs flying over a personal, hand-held, on-line device.) Access to the internet is available only via a password, which is known only to the parents.
When a child wishes to use the computer, s/he not only must gain permission from a parent to do so, but also must have a "buddy" in tow. This buddy becomes rather like a sibling Jiminy Cricket, a quiet shared conscience, whose mere presence gently reminds the internet user not to view nor contemplate anything their parents would not approve.
To some, this might sound excessive. To us, it sounded brilliant! And to their children, it was simple, easy, took two seconds, and was no big deal.
You know why? I'll tell you why.
Because this lovely family had imbued in their children from birth what Catholics know is everyone's #1 Purpose In Life: to know, love, and serve God in this world and to be happy with Him forever in the next. (Remember our quote from St. Dominic Savio about life -- "What has this to do with eternity?")
Their children didn't just know or understand this concept. They didn't just live it when they were having a good day. They breathed it. They were as peaceful and confident about Who made them and why as they were about their own names or the fact that today is Saturday.
And that's why their buddy system worked.
No one minded. Because they all knew that God didn't want just me to join Him in heaven. Or only you to join Him in heaven. He wants every child He created (which would be, um, everyone) to join Him in heaven.
Part of our salvation is the ultimate buddy system in action!
Hey -- it's not just for swimming anymore!