Bird home exhibition at the New Toronto School, Toronto, Ont., April 17, 1918. Archives Canada/www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/

The Register Archive: School may be out, but that doesn’t mean parents should leave children to their own resources

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  • August 20, 2018

In the dog days of August, at the height of vacation season, it is tempting to let a few things slide. But not too much. One hundred years ago, The Catholic Register did its summer duty by reminding parents of their own duty when it came to their children. From the July 18, 1918 issue, The Register offers advice that still may apply today.


The vacation season of our educational institutions fills us with varied emotions. 

Of course, we rejoice with the pupils that the time of rest and recreation has come after the months of strenuous work at school, but we cannot contemplate, with anything like peace of mind, the indifference of very many parents regarding the spiritual welfare of their children during summer vacation.

Some fathers and mothers — and their number is by no means small — seem to imagine that, when they have reared their offspring to school age, they may shift their moral education as well as their mental training entirely over to the clergy and the teachers of our schools. 

During the scholastic year the guardianship of the priests, teaching Brothers and nuns, the discipline of the classroom and the preparation of the daily tasks make up pretty well for parental laxity. 

But when the summer closing of the schools puts so much free time at the disposal of the youngsters they are beset with dangers from all sides. 

It is generally conceded that idleness is a fruitful source of evil for persons of all ages and this is especially true of children, that “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.”

Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that school children be not left entirely to their own resources in the matter of ways and means of spending their vacation. 

They need and they should have a more or less elastic program, covering the entire period, and affording plenty of varied entertainment and healthful exercise and recreation. 

Books should not be entirely neglected, but care should be taken not to administer in overdose, nor to repeat even the normal dose too frequently, lest the patients develop a nausea from which they will never completely recover. 

The principal danger which threatens the young folks during vacation is the contamination arising from falling in with bad companions. The utmost caution should be exercised by parents and guardians to protect the little ones, whom God has entrusted to their care, from this corrupting influence. 

They should, by all means, know where, with whom and how the children spend their time. Let them remember that “evil communications corrupt good morals,” and let them be scrupulous in shielding their charges from any association which would have the slightest tendency to taint their innocence. 

It is important in this connection to bear in mind that indecent movie shows are virtually as corrupting as are immoral companions. 

As a matter of fact, the persons of the audience are practically associating with the characters upon the films.

After all, however, those who have upon themselves the responsibility for children during the vacation will find their task grateful as well as easy if they manage with gentle tact to have their charges continue the little devotions and the reception of the sacraments with something like the regularity of the school year regime.

(To explore more from The Catholic Register Archive, go to catholicregister.org/archive)

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