The Pink Panther Can Teach Your Kids to Hate Adultery

Watch out for the Pink Panther.

My son turned 8 a few weeks ago, and I got him the old movie The Pink Panther. I watched it ages ago, and I remembered thinking that it was really funny. Imagine my horror as I watched this movie with my four small children and realized that one of the central comedic elements was an adulterous wife.

(Spoiler Alert) In The Pink Panther, Peter Sellers plays the bumbling cuckold Inspector Clouseau, whose wife runs around with the very jewel thief he is trying to catch. The movie doesn’t contain any graphic sexuality, which is why we watched it to the end. The movie handled the adultery in a way that very tasteful and humorous. People running in and out of doors and hiding under beds and whatnot. At the end of the movie, the Inspector’s wife conspires with dethroned princess to frame Clouseau for the theft in order to free their beloved jewel thief.

Is adultery really entertainment?

I have a bachelor’s degree in theater, so I’m well aware of the history of the battle of the sexes in comedy. It goes back to the ancient Greeks at least, when Aristophanes wrote a play in which the women of Greece deny their lovers sex until they stopped the Peloponnesian War. People have been laughing about this kind of stuff for a long time.

But is that good? My son has been trying to learn how to tell jokes over the last couple of years. One of the things that I’m trying to teach him is the difference between good jokes and bad jokes. “Good jokes make everybody laugh,” I keep telling him. Body jokes, or poop jokes don’t fly. And jokes that make one person feel sad are completely verboten.

In my youth, my faith and morals sustained serious damage because I watched television and movies that made light of sin. Bad jokes. Movies like American Pie and Revenge of the Nerds trivialize human sexuality and make sinful sexual behavior look normal and desirable. I loved those kinds of movies growing up, because they catered to the surging testosterone pulsing through my adolescent veins.

Now as an adult, I have very different taste in entertainment. Sin fills me with horror, even if, or especially if a movie is tries to make it look like it’s no big deal. I have to work a little harder, but I try hard to find entertainment that only contains good jokes. As a parent, finding wholesome entertainment is well worth the effort. Get Smart makes us laugh over and over.

Looking for the teachable moment.

The climax of the Pink Panther is truly hilarious. Our whole family laughed uproariously as the characters chased each other around in silly costumes. The big ending didn’t really have to do with adultery, and instead showed the Inspector catching the robber. But it still left me with the question of what to do about the central ‘bad joke.’

So after the movie, I asked my children if they thought that Clouseau’s wife was a good wife or a bad wife. They universally said bad. Ok. I’m making progress. But why was she a bad wife? Because she loved money more than she loved her husband. Pretty insightful. We talked about how she was especially wicked because she framed her husband for the crime so he went to prison. I pointed out that Momma was a good wife. They could see why immediately.

At the end of the day, I used the movie to talk about something that I don’t get to discuss a lot with my small children. Adultery is bad. It’s a sin, and it is destructive to families. Watching the movie helped the kids to see that, but I had to draw those connections for them very specifically.

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Raising Cain and Abel – Convincing My Sons Not to Murder Each Other

Do your kids ever fight like Cain and Abel? They CAN conquer their anger.

The story of Cain and Abel does not surprise me. As I sat down to write this post, I heard my 5-year-old son scream/crying in his bedroom. His 7-year-old big brother ran out into the living room with skip and a smile. Tearing around the corner behind him came his younger brother, face contorted in a grimace of sorrow and rage. I’ve nicknamed the the younger, “The Vengeance.”

“What is going on!?!” I exclaimed in a voice loud enough to cut through the laughter and the screaming. “Both of you, get in the push up position!” The two boys limply obey, and the younger brother sobbingly tries to explain that his brother had shoved him into a window sill while they were wrestling. I tell my oldest to apologize. “I did.” He shouts at me. “Do it again.” “I’M SORRY!” “Both of you, go to your beds!” They go to the room they share, one to the top bunk and the other to the lower. Ten minutes later, they ask for permission to come back out and return to the living room as if nothing happened.

Wrestling with Anger.

Like most boys, my sons like to roughhouse. Wrestle. Chase each other around with sticks. The problem comes when one of them (usually the oldest) gets too rough and the other (typically his little brother) gets hurt. Then the little one gets mad, and when he gets mad it’s like the world is ending. He gets a certain look in his eye that tells me that he’s not going to stop until he hears his older brother screaming in pain.

My goal is to teach them to exert more of their energy wrestling with their emotions than with each other. As Proverbs says, “Better the man who can conquer himself than the one who can conquer cities.” (Proverbs 16:32) They really have two different enemies they have to learn to fight.

The first is the flesh. Anger strongly affects us physically and mentally. Our heart beat speeds up and our breathing increases. Adrenaline jets into the blood stream, adding a short burst of rocket fuel in case we need to fight a bear. Our ability to think rationally diminishes as our mental energies focus on identifying and eliminating threats. This physiological anger response is neither good nor bad. It was very useful when one was fighting bears. It can become a problem when it’s directed at a loved one and not properly restrained.

One of the strategies I use to deal with this physical excitement is the pushup position. A friend of mine who is former military and has older sons suggested it. When the boys are fired up, the pushup position acts like a heat sink. The energy required to maintain a plank slowly drains them of their fury. I’ll leave them in the pushup position for as long needed while they explain to me what is going on. By the end of two minutes planking, the anger is totally gone and replaced with sorrow. Not necessarily contrition. Their arms just hurt.

Mastering the demon.

The second foe is the demon of anger. In the story of Cain and Abel, God warns Cain that sin is sitting on his doorstep, but that he can be its master. From what I’ve read, the word used for sin in the original text refers to an evil spirit. The story tells us that Cain did NOT master the demon, and his anger bore fruit in murder.

One way to recognize that a demon is active is when the anger persists past a reasonable point. I can see being angry if your brother just broke your Lego castle. If an hour has passed and you have rebuilt your Lego castle, but you’re still angry? That might be a sign that an evil spirit is at work. That’s exactly what happened to Cain. His anger flared because Abel’s offering was received more favorably than his own. But it didn’t just go away. He nursed it… the demon kept that fire going until it became hatred and ultimately murder.

If I notice that my kids are particularly quarrelsome, I’ll stop them and pray. “Shoo devil, in the name of Jesus,” is a prayer that any child can learn and say with faith. I also love to use sacramentals. Holy water and holy salt do amazing things to clear the air when evil spirits are stirring up trouble between the children. I let the kids get in on the fun, and send them through the house with a bottle of holy water praying, “I bless this room in the name of Jesus.” Demons can’t stand it.

Wounds that leave a mark.

When my children injure one another, whether physically when roughhousing or emotionally through teasing, it’s important that I deal with the fact that they are sinning against one another. It’s useful to think of the fact that an injury creates a debt to the other person that must be repaid. Sometimes that debt is repaid through punishment. That’s justice. Sometimes the debt is released through forgiveness. That’s mercy.

The best way to teach my children to forgive one another is to teach them to ask for forgiveness when they have hurt each other. Sometimes the sincerity of the apology is… borderline. But the fact that one brother has acknowledged his wrong in front of me and the other brother is really important. I might have to step in and return the stolen toy, but I think this is less important.

My kids are young. My hope and observation is that they have not experienced a lot of truly grievous hurts. But I have little doubt that they will one day experience hurts that are not easy to forgive. When (not if) that happens, I want them to understand that forgiveness is an act of the will, not an emotional state. When I choose to forgive, it might take months or even years for my emotions to catch up. That’s ok. The act of forgiving is like putting antibiotics in an infected wound. It goes to work immediately, but the inflammation takes some time to calm down.

Following in daddy’s footsteps.

If my children paid attention to me during the day, they might notice me muttering, “Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.” They might see that I say that when I walk into a bedroom that looks like it has been hit by a Class 4 hurricane. Or when they are screaming at each other. Or when the tool that I know I put in its proper place is missing. The demon of anger comes after me relentlessly because it’s an area of personal weakness. In the days before Jesus, I punched holes in walls and doors. Prayer in general and that prayer in particular opens my heart to the grace that I need to exercise self-control.

When dealing with bigger hurts, I need bigger guns. A very wise priest once told me a powerful practice for dealing with my deep hurts. When the image of the person comes to mind, stirring up anger and hurt, I imagine the person standing next to Jesus. I make the sign of the cross over the mental image, praying, “I forgive them and give them to Jesus.” I might have to do this a hundred times. Or a thousand. But eventually, the sharpness of the pain in my soul dwindles away to nothing.

I want my children to follow the pattern of Jesus, not the pattern of Cain and Abel. The number one way I can do this is by modeling the right way to deal with anger. Anger happens. What do I do after the fact? I apologize to my children. It’s humbling to ask your children for forgiveness. Often this opens the floor for a deeper conversation with them about love, anger, and forgiveness. Sometimes there is a lot there to discuss. Or not. But it always ends with a hug and an, “I love you.’

And love covers a multitude of sins.

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Unnatural rebellion – the battle to civilize our children.

A happy family - which the devil hates and tries to destroy through rebellion.

Growing up in America during the 80’s and 90’s, the concept of “teenage rebellion” filled my thoughts. In movies and television shows, leading lords and ladies struggled to make their own way and find themselves. I think people of my generation learned to think of teenage rebellion as something natural, normal, and to be expected. They would be terribly scandalized by someone who said that the teenage tendency to reject their parents’ values and forge out on their own was both unnatural and foolish.

Looking back on my misspent youth, I see my pursuit of teenage rebellion as something unnatural and foolish. Like my bachelor’s degree in theater. I enjoyed studying theater at the time, but what good was it? All I had at the end was a worthless piece of paper and a pile of student loans that took me more than twenty years to pay off. I have never acted in a professional theater production.

The concept of “normal teenage rebellion” comes right from the tempter himself. Who else might be stirring up this rebellion than the old rebel himself? An angel of the utmost perfection, he rejected God’s authority and now revels in filth, degradation, and wretchedness.

Of course, Satan tries to stir up rebellion against parents in children. He wants to remake man in his own image. He attempts to trick us into making the same mistakes that he made so that we will share in his eternal misery. Pretty nasty character, isn’t he?

A father’s point of view.

Now I’m a parent, not a rebellious teenager. My own children are still young and think that I have hung the moon (for the most part). They will reach a point in their lives that they will recognize my brokenness and failures as a parent. Their response to that new knowledge makes all the difference.

Right now, I try really hard to be a good dad. I like to praise and enjoy time with my children, but I also know that I’m responsible for teaching my children good and evil. That means punishment. As a father of four small children, I have come to realize that civilization is not contagious. It does not happen by accident. We are one generation from living in caves and hunting with stone tools. Parents hand civilization on to their children. They do this by parenting, which is mostly modeling correct behavior, but also includes explicit instruction and discipline.

I’m aware that I’m not going to do this perfectly. I also know that love covers a multitude of sins. And sometimes love means correcting bad behavior in a way that is unpleasant to my kids. A five-year-old doesn’t understand abstract reasoning. But he knows that yelling at his mother will earn him a spanking. He’ll understand the why of it when he gets older.

Who’s in your child’s corner?

Enter the tempter. The term “diabolos” comes from the Greek which means “to divide.” One of the devil’s main tactics is to try to create division between people. And since rebellion is the sin that got Satan kicked out of heaven, it’s one of his favorite strategies.

No person on this planet is more deeply invested in my children’s long term happiness than my wife and I are. I have gotten up countless times to put them back to sleep in the middle of the night. I work very hard to provide them with good things. Not just the necessary things like food, shelter, and clothing, but also fun things like books, electronics, and art supplies. We want our children to be happy, holy, healthy, and hardworking.

It’s a challenge. It is often harder to get my kids to do something simple like cleaning their rooms than it would be for me to do it myself. My kids do not necessarily enjoy learning how to pick up after themselves, clear the dishes, and say their prayers.

And this is where the tempter can step in, sowing those seeds of division. He stirs up dissatisfaction in a child when their favorite electronic toy is taken away (someday I’ll tell you about the day when I announced that video games were OVER in our house). Or when the child isn’t allowed to do sleep overs (everyone else can do sleep overs). Or when you explain why the family doesn’t own a television (for 9 years now and going strong). I don’t have teenage children yet, so I can only imagine the kinds of disagreements that might arise between me and my children at that age.

The devil works to convince a child that the power imbalance is unfair, that it’s unjust, and that it’s ultimately destructive to their happiness. And I must admit that the temptations might hold a grain of truth when he’s talking about abusive parents. But even moderately dysfunctional parents (which is just about everyone) want their children to be happy and successful. They are just working with a broken set of tools.

God’s antidote to the devil’s temptation to unnatural rebellion.

St. Paul points out in Ephesians 6:2 that the commandment to honor your parents is the first one that includes a promise. God recognizes that obeying and honoring parents can be really difficult. So the commandment reads, Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

So I point out to my children that obedience to mommy and daddy is the path to happiness. Since they’re young, we’re starting with simple things. Things like getting their pajamas on the first time I ask them, or cleaning their room. And “STOP HITTING YOUR SISTER!”

I want them to know, especially before they get to the dreaded teenage years, that I’m dad. I have authority and I use it, but for their benefit. And I want them to flourish as human beings. They need to know that I’m in their corner. And when the opportunity arises, I try to talk about rebellion and how it’s a temptation.

I want my kids to recognize that the temptation doesn’t make any sense. It works against their best interests. God will bless their honoring of the commandment, and so will I. Well-behaved, respectful children are a wonderful thing to behold. They also tend to be happier than their disrespectful, rebellious counterparts.

Expect good things from our children.

We parents don’t have to start with the expectation that our children are going to rebel against us. It’s not written in the stars. It isn’t natural, it’s sinful. God has planned a better way and blessed that better way. It is both natural and supernatural for children to respect their parents and have a good relationship with them.

Parents need to talk with their kids honestly about teenage rebellion and the fact that it is both stupid and sinful. Kids watch a lot of media these days, and they won’t find a lot of respect and honor for parents anywhere. You have to very carefully screen what kind of messages your kids are getting, because a lot of what’s out there tries to make sinful rebellion look cool and sexy.

It’s not. My happiest and most successful friends have great relationships with their parents. When they went off the rails into rebellion (like I did), they paid a price. Sometimes they paid a severe price. I want to have healthy, happy relationships with my children many, many years from now when I’m a grandfather, God willing. If we can avoid the snare of rebellion, we will accomplish that easily.

To read my story of how Jesus Christ snatched me from the snares of the devil, get my new book Demoniac on

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Restless Children – Temptations against the Sabbath

Exhausted? Maybe its because of your restless Sabbath
Do you end up exhausted at the end of a restless sabbath?

I have a running joke with my boss about my work ethic. Before she got promoted to Executive Director, I confessed to her that I really hate working than absolutely necessary because I’m terribly lazy. Unfortunately, I’m way to busy to set aside time for doing nothing.

I do leatherwork as a hobby. And blacksmithing. 3d printing. Web publishing. I’ve independently published two books. I have 4 kids. And do my own floor repair… car repair… well repair… vacuum repair… plumbing. Lets not forget my volunteering.

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world to do is nothing. Especially if you’re like me and terribly lazy. I just can’t find enough time in the course of a day to do enough nothing to qualify as real laziness. Even on a Sunday.

What does it mean to rest on the Sabbath?

Back in Jesus’ day, people wrestled with how to rest on the sabbath. Religious leaders argued with Jesus over His lax interpretation of the legal requirements, prompting Him to chastise them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” I think that He was pointing out that all of those rules made for a restless sabbath.

Times haven’t changed much. As a parent, I still wrestle with how to teach this commandment to my children. Does it mean the complete absence of work? What about the chores that they will only do when their father is carefully supervising them?

I figure that this commandment is best taught by modeling. I’m their father, and my wife and I set the tone for our Sunday activities. Several years ago, we decided to try to try to limit the amount of shopping or other business related activities we do. Driving around doing errands leaves me feeling like camel trudging through the Sahara. I’m actually grateful that Chickfila isn’t open on Sunday. One less temptation to worry about.

Rest, not idleness.

In our consumer driven culture, it’s hard to define what it means to rest. The Sunday rest doesn’t mean that I’m supposed to lie around in bed all day long. Instead, I think some activities are compatible with resting.

The first and most important Sunday activity is Holy Mass. Even back in Jesus’ day, everyone could agree that worshipping God fit perfectly into the Sabbath. Worship requires active participation, especially if you’re wrangling a pew full of squirrels.

Yet, I remember back in the days before children (and occasionally these days) experiencing real rest and peace in church. I love the Mass and I love Eucharistic adoration, because there is no better place to find peace and rest than in the presence of the Prince of Peace. My kids have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time, unfortunately, so a family Holy Hour is a tough sell.


I threw a hyphen in the word recreation to point something out. Some activities don’t deplete our energies; they renew our spirits. I’m a maker, so I experience great joy crafting something out of leather, metal, or plastic. I love the process of composing an object in my mind and then painstakingly translating that vision into reality.

Other people love sports, music, art, or gardening (my wife’s favorite – she’s starting a blog about it). Our kids love games and adventures in the outdoors. A bonfire delights the whole neighborhood, and can sometimes attract a crowd. I also particularly love low key get togethers. I’m an extrovert, so spending time with friends and family refreshes and relaxes me. My wife is an introvert, so big crowds have the opposite effect on her. We have to work together to find balance.

Finding family activities that refresh us and create fun memories can be a source of great joy. I have friends who spent every Sunday afternoon cooking out and boating on the lake. Great memories, great re-creation time for the whole family.

Avoid a restless Sabbath.

 The devil likes to keep us distracted. The word “distraction” conjures an image of a truck in a deep mud puddle. The wheels might be spinning, but it doesn’t get any where because it doesn’t have any traction.

If I’m distracted on a Sunday, it can become quite a restless sabbath. Have you ever been on a vacation where you come home exhausted instead of refreshed? Where you need a vacation to recover from your vacation? That’s exactly what I’m talking about.

God intends for our rest days to be a delight. He wants to feed us spiritually by bringing us into worship that brings us into communion with Him and community with our brothers and sisters in Christ. He wants us to avoid business that prevents us from focusing on the two greatest commandments, loving God and loving one another.

For kids, try to avoid the Sunday afternoon homework explosion. Nothing ruins rest like chasing a deadline. My boys don’t have much homework in 2nd grade and kindergarten, but I know that the burden will increase as they get older. Planning to avoid homework on Sunday will get more intentional as they get older.

A Satisfying Sunday.

Yesterday, my family experienced a delightful, and restful Sunday. We started with a yummy but low key breakfast. I did a little bible study with the kids. Not more than 20 or so minutes, because they’re still little. We attended virtual mass with Fr. Mike Schmitz (quarantine). The kids paid attention for the most part, with a few gentle corrections. After Mass, we pottered around in the yard for a couple of hours while the kids played, and then I took the whole clan for a tromp through the woods. I love living in the country.

By the end of the day, I felt refreshed, not tired. Renewed and ready for the week. More connected with God and my family. I think we hit pretty close to the mark of a Sabbath the way God intended.

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No more empty prayers. Teaching children to pray.

Teaching children to pray doesn't have to be like running across hot coals.

If you’ve ever tried to get a 7-year-old to say a rosary, perhaps you’ve heard, “HailMaryfullofgracetheLordiswithyou…”. All in one breath, seemingly in one syllable, like the words were a trench full of hot coals that the child could cross if he just runs fast enough. And if it’s not too fast, it’s  too slow, or it’s with a funny voice, or shouted at the top of their lungs or whispered so its hardly audible. Why is teaching children to pray so HARD?

Such are the hazards of trying to teach little children rote prayers. I don’t have any objection to rote prayer. Jesus gave us the Our Father and it’s perhaps the most beautiful and profound prayers ever spoken. But there’s a real danger of teaching children to say a bunch of words without ever teaching them to pray.

Vanity isn’t just vulgar.

The word “Jesus” only appears in The Princess Bride (admittedly one of my favorite movies) as a swear word coming out of a child’s mouth. I cringe every time I hear it and tell my children how that’s not the way we use the Jesus’ Name.

This casual and vulgar use of the name Jesus pleases the evil one, not the least because it uses God’s holy Name as something foul. Satan tries to defile anything that is good or holy. But the commandment not to use the Lord’s name in vain goes much deeper than avoiding using His name as a swear word.

 The real danger of emptiness.

I think the deeper danger for children learning to “say their prayers” is that they don’t ever realize that their prayers impact reality. You can say a rote prayer without any kind of faith that your prayer is going to be answered. Reciting specific words in a certain pattern is not prayer. It can be part of prayer, but it is the lesser part.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. If I recite the Our Father without any notion that there is a Person who is listening to that prayer, who will answer that prayer, isn’t that the very definition of using the Lord’s name in vain? This type of vain prayer is exactly what the devil wants. It’s a kind of prayer without prayer. Jesus condemned the Pharisees and scribes by quoting Isaiah, who prophesied, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

The devil works to reinforce this hypocrisy by tempting children to see prayer as a waste of time or exercise in absolute fruitlessness. This is the first step towards the exit door of the Church and all too often leads to full blown apostasy and atheism.

Model a life full of prayer.

The antidote to this is for parents to model a life filled and informed by “full,” not empty, prayers. Children should see their parents praying about important things. They should be taught to recognize the fruitfulness of a prayer made in faith.

A few years ago, my wife and I tried to buy a house out in the country. We were super excited about it, because it was right next to her parents and an ideal place to raise our children. Our kids were likewise excited to get to move next to Grandma and Grandpa. The owners accepted our offer on the house. What could possibly go wrong?

We couldn’t get financing. I still don’t understand it. I had great credit. The house price fit my budget. I tried two different banks, but I just  couldn’t get a loan to buy the house. While my wife and I were disappointed, my kids were crushed.

My wife and I explained to my kids that God must have a different plan. We still wanted to move to the country, but we had to wait for God to reveal that plan. I told my son to start praying that we be able to move to the country every night. He did so for about 2 years. Then the OTHER house next to my in-laws came up for sale, for about half the price of the first house. It’s the house we now own.

Prayer-Full children.

I just asked my son, “Do you think God answers prayers?” Without missing a beat, he responded, “Yeah.  But sometimes He answers in a way that takes a long time for us, even though He really answered it right away. Because He’s eternal.” He’s been listening. And watching.

He knows that God answers prayer not because I’ve told him (though I have many times), but because he has seen it for himself. He has had more than one personal experience of God answering a prayer in a way that was very obviously God’s hand. God wants to build my son’s faith, and answered prayers are brick and mortar.

The joy that results from this growth in faith and prayer is so beautiful. When a child recognizes that our God is a God who answers prayers, they are venturing our onto the Way. They see that fulfilling the second commandment is not some terrible burden, but is rather a never ending source of blessing. It’s good news in an age when good news is hard to find.

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A pew full of squirrels. Do your children misbehave in church?

Children misbehaving in church might remind you of these furry critters.

Sometimes in church, I feel like I’m calling a square dance. “Sit down. Stand up. Turn around. Don’t touch your sister. Put that down. Pick it up. Kneel down. Get off the floor. Pay attention. Grab your partner, do-si-do.” ARGGG. Other people have told me that they think it’s cute, but it drives me crazy! Why won’t my children stop misbehaving in church?

What’s in a dream?

A couple of months back, I had a dream about it. Now, I don’t put much stock in dreams as a general rule. Most of my dreams are immediately forgotten the moment I wake up. But God did promise that when He poured out His Spirit, young men would see visions and old men would dream dreams. You see which category I fit in.

In the dream, my second son was climbing around some sort of contraption and fell into a basket. Suddenly, arcs of electricity started shooting through him, causing him to jerk and twist horribly. I raced forward and knocked him out of the basket, and he quickly recovered. Then I jerked awake.

My first thought as I awoke was that my son’s motions in church were similar to the motions that I saw him making in the dream while being electrocuted. My next thought was that maybe my son’s behavior was being affected by some outside force. I had the realization that misbehaving in church is a sin against the first commandment. Failing to show God proper respect is a sin, even for a child.

Looking for the devil’s footprints.

Where there’s sin, there’s demons. I know from past experience that demons don’t have any qualms attacking the smallest children. It dawned on me that perhaps part of the chaos that I was experiencing was due to the fact that my children were being severely tempted to act up in Mass.

In my spiritual life, I’ve come up against temptations that were incredibly intense. They took all the powers of my will and intellect, strengthened by the God’s grace, to resist them. After a temptation like that passed, I was exhausted and spiritually depleted.

My poor children might be facing this same kind of dramatically intensified temptation at Mass, but without the benefit of my understanding of spiritual warfare or my years of practice fighting the devil. In a way, the devil might be “electrocuting” them with severe temptation and sitting back and laughing at my frustration ho down.

The proof is in the pudding.

I decided to test this theory the following Sunday. God does occasionally wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me something, but I needed to test the truth of this ‘revelation’ by acting on it. Before Mass, I stopped my kids and had them say a simple prayer with me. “Jesus, please help me to behave at Mass.” Nothing more than that. No lectures or threats (which I’ve tried before with zero effect).

The results were amazing. I think it was the first time that I was able to pray quietly after communion in months. The kids weren’t perfect. They are still 7, 5, and 3. But now I was working with God’s grace rather than on my own strength.

After Mass, I praised the children for their behavior and pointed out that God answered their prayer for help. I told them that the devil tempts them to misbehave, but God gives them grace to be reverent. In the following weeks, we have continued this practice of asking Jesus for help before Mass, and the fruit has been overwhelmingly positive. Not perfection, mind you, but dramatic improvement. I still have to fight with distraction during Mass myself, so I know that this will be a lifelong battle for them.

A long term project.

I have continued to talk to my children about the temptation to misbehave in mass, and ass I’m much more likely to tell them that I think they’re being tempted during Mass than to threaten them with a spanking. I find it works better, because they really don’t want to do what the devil wants them to do. It helps them to engage their minds and wills to fight back against the temptation, which is a skill they’re going to need for the rest of their lives.

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Teach your children about the devil’s snares.


The fly circles the flypaper, drawn to its slightly sweet smell. As soon as it touches down, the fly’s feet stick fast. It begins to struggle, exerting more and more effort, but the fly paper is too sticky. The fly tries to fly away, but doing so causes a wing to touch the sticky paper. It flips over on its back and sticks fast. The fly is a goner.

This little insect paid its life to learn a lesson that our children need to know. Not every sweet thing is good for them. Some will lead them to their death, physical or spiritual. As a parent, teaching my children about the nature of temptation and how to resist it the power of the Holy Spirit is one of my essential duties.

Your kids don’t understand this… yet.

Children experience temptation just like adults do, but because of their youth and inexperience, they don’t realize that they are being tempted. They won’t understand what is going on in their thoughts and emotions by just muddling through it. They need us to help them to interpret and understand what’s going on in their minds and hearts.

I remember the great freedom that I felt when I discovered as an adult that not all of my thoughts are mine. I now know that the devil can whisper directly into my thoughts, and what he says is never good. For instance, if I ever notice thoughts in my head that use foul language, I know that it’s a demonic temptation. I just don’t think that way any more, nor do I speak that way any more. I am able to immediately command the demon to flee in the name of Jesus. The vulgar thoughts stop immediately.

Teach them to recognize the danger.

Our children need to know how the devil might tempt them. And no one but you can teach your children about the devil. First off, all temptation seeks to lead us into sin, so that’s one of the first clues. This is one of the reasons that teaching children the difference between good and evil is so important.

But the devil has more than one way of leading us into sin. Here are some of the ways that the devil can tempt us:

  1. Demons whisper negative thoughts into our minds. For example, thoughts like, “I hate so and so,” “Jesus doesn’t love me,” or “Nobody will notice if I take that thing that doesn’t belong to me,” might actually be temptations from demons of hate, despair, and theft.
  2. Demons stir up negative images in our imaginations. These might be images of a violent or sexual act, or of something scary. These images might be stirred up by demons of violence, lust, or fear.
  3. Demons can act directly on our desires, causing them to both flare up dramatically, or die down inappropriately. For instance, a demon might cause a child to desire to be anywhere but the church pew where their parents want to sit. This might come from a spirit of impiety.
  4. Demons can bring up past sins by attacking our memory. They do this to convince us that our sin is what defines us and cause us to despair.
  5. Demons can even attack us physically, causing exhaustion or arousal at exactly the wrong time. These can be attacks by spirits of sloth and lust.

You’ll notice that in most of these cases, I said that it might be demonic. This is because these interior experiences of temptation are not always demonic in origin. We can also experience temptation as a result of a habitual sin, the actions of other people, or our physical environment. The world, the flesh, and the devil ALL try to lead us into sin. Demonic temptation is not rare, but your child might be getting attacked by more than one of that unholy triad.

Lay their foundation on a rock.

Recognizing temptation is only the beginning, but it’s a strong beginning. Something changes when I realize that a particular thought or feeling is actually a temptation from the evil one. Suddenly the sweetness doesn’t seem so sweet. I’m able to call to mind the consequences of the sin and choose not to act. The fly doesn’t have a choice because it acts on instinct. But as a human being, I can CHOOSE not to do something that is both evil and self-destructive, as is all sin.

Once our children begin to recognize temptations, we can also teach them to pray for the opposite virtue. If they are struggling with sexual temptation, ask Jesus to give purity of heart. When tempted to anger, pray for meekness and self-control. If laziness and sloth is the weakness, pray for the gift of fortitude. God happily supplies these virtues if we ask Him. The devil grits his teeth when he sees that his attempts to lead us astray have instead revealed our weaknesses and inspired us to pray to God for strength.

God uses the devil’s attempts to do evil and turns them to good. Praise the Lord. We go from glory to glory, growing in holiness and virtue.

To read my story of how Jesus Christ snatched me from the snares of the devil, get my new book Demoniac on

If you want to learn more about how to fight the devil in your life, please sign up for my mailing list. I’ll send you a reminder every time I publish new stories about how to fight demons.

Success! You're on the list.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.