Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was released in theaters this past week and although it broke many records with a $170 million opening, it was not without controversy. As you have probably heard by now, there is a gay character that has caused some Christians to encourage a boycott of the movie.
In this day and age, it is not uncommon for same-sex relationships to be present in children’s movies, television shows, or literature. In my opinion, a boycott will not accomplish much (as evidence of the overwhelming response to the film), but what a Catholic parent must do is to pray, plan, and prepare in order to respond to our children’s questions. Not only because children will see these type of relationships in movies, but also because they will hear about these topics and witness them in school and in the community.
Even if you prevent your child from seeing certain movies or reading select books, it is inevitable that you will face questions about gender and marriage. I’m not an expert in this area, but I’ve done my research as a parent and am happy to share my findings with you. Here are a few important tips that I have picked up from various resources. I encourage you not to limit yourself to these tips, but to make time for a more in depth look at how you will discuss these topics in your family.
-Discover for yourself what the Church believes and teaches on these topics and why those beliefs are important. Your own personal opinion and feelings are not a strong enough source.
-Lay a Biblical foundation and speak God’s truth into your child’s life before the questions even start. (Resource here.)
-Find out what your child already knows by asking questions like, “What have you heard?” and “What do you think about that?”
-Give simple, age appropriate answers. Kids don’t need to know everything all at once.
-Model love and charity for all of God’s children. Even for those who may have different beliefs than we do.
-This isn’t a one time conversation. Prepare yourself to discuss these issues whenever your child brings it up and feels a need to talk about it with you.
– Pray daily to ask the Holy Spirit to give you guidance and wisdom in all areas of parenting.
9 Catholic Resources to Help You Talk with Your Children About Same-sex Marriage and Gender
1. How to talk to your kids about gender issues by Christopher C. Roberts (Article written for Our Sunday Visitor)
“Which means, when talking with a 5-year-old about somebody who has two mommies, or with a tween about transgender issues, you’ve hopefully already told the basic story before the crisis hits. When something confusing comes up, you want to be reminding them of what they already know. You want to remind them that Catholics march to a different drummer. You remind them that God gave them a girl body or a boy body for a reason and that growing up to be a woman or a man is beautiful and exciting. And if some people forget that, or get a little confused about that, we Catholics aren’t going to fudge the truth, and we are always respectful.”
2. Insights from Fr. Mike Schmitz
3. Beyond the Birds and Bees: Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids by Dr. Gregory Popcak (Book)
“In short, the comparison between Catholic sexuality and the eroticism served up by secular society is like comparing real flowers to fake ones. There is no comparison. The reality is that the kind of sexuality espoused by the Church and especially illustrated in the Theology of the Body beats every secular alternative. It represents the fullness of sexuality as created by God, and as such it is absolutely good. It is far better than anything the world has to offer. I understand how parents might feel tentative, nervous, or a little intimidated at that thought of discussing sex with their kids, but there is one thing no Catholic parent ever has to feel and that is ashamed. The Catholic vision of love is the real thing. Love your kids enough to give them the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.”
4. How to Talk About Same Sex Marriage by Trent Horn (Talk)
“Catholic Apologist Trent Horn carefully considers same-sex marriage and provides an in-depth discussion that addresses the misconceptions held by many in our society today. This examination of what marriage really is, and what it is not, provides a truly gracious and persuasive response to the debate surrounding this important topic.”
5. Who Am I to Judge? by Edward Sri (Book)
“Yet calling people to love is not something our secular world can easily do. If there’s no truth, no real right or wrong, no purpose or telos in life, then the best we can come up with is tolerance.”
9. Courage – Courage is a Roman Catholic Apostolate that ministers to those experiencing same-sex attraction and provides support for their family members.