What You Want Your Child to Know By 18

In the Q&A period at the end of his talk on Rule of Life, Fr. Ripperger spoke about the qualities, especially virtue, children should have by certain ages.

I had never thought about what I wanted my children to know by the time they turn 14 or 18 – I just thought, “My child is growing up, they will be whoever they are going to be. I will do my best to educate them and show them skills that will help them in life. Then they’ll go off to college or begin working. There is no real goal per se. Just get them to 18 yrs old healthy and educated in the basics.” I was wrong. Much thanks to Fr. Ripperger for going over the milestones in a child’s life. And he does it in his typically beautiful way:

At 6 yrs old
“When they are young – up to 6 years old, you’re setting up training for the kid. He doesn’t have virtue yet. Once he gets to the age of reason – when he can start committing sin. Then he can start making choices, true choices, he can begin to develop virtue. But they need the external structure because they don’t have enough intellectually.”

At 14
“Once they go through puberty it all shifts and what they need (after the structure has been given to them) is council because at that stage the virtue is only voluntary – you can’t impose it. The kid has to make a choice if he is going to do it or not. The parent can’t impose it because then the kid is not developing virtue, he’s just getting good at compliance. They need council and encouragement to get them to develop virtue on their own.”

At 18
“Get them to develop virtue. The goal is to get them totally self sufficient (in their faith) without any input of your own (the parents) at the age of 18. By the time a guy reaches 18 he should be on his feet in his masculinity, in his virtue and in his catholicity to where he can assume all of the obligations of marriage at that age.”

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