Teach your children to rely on this incredible saint when it comes to making big choices.
The laidback approach: This is essentially the “do as you like” or “deal with it yourself” approach. But most of the time, after examining what his or her instincts tell him, a young person is none the wiser. A more poetic version of this advice would be “Just do what your heart tells you,” that is, “Stop thinking so much about it.” Although the heart never lies, if left to its own devices it may inspire a child to abandon the best path and and live any way he sees fit.
The rational approach: This consists in carefully weighing all the pros and cons, writing them down in two columns, and tallying everything up. This method is less reliable than it seems because it places all the “pros” and “cons” on the same level of importance and more significantly it implies that people can anticipate all the positive and negative consequences of their choices.
The “wise old monkey” approach: This consists in sharing your own experience with them, which can be both instructive and beneficial but is somewhat limiting. Young people want to live their own lives and have their own experiences.
The three pillars of St. Thomas Aquinas
We shouldn’t dismiss all these approaches out of hand, but they can only confirm instead of inspire the right choices. St. Thomas Aquinas has no exact recipe for how to make the right decisions, but he does provide a practical guide. Every decision one makes must rest on three pillars:
1. Does this lead to a righteous life? A happy life opens up to those who know how to judge their own actions and to distinguish between good and evil.
2. Is this the right time? Good timing is knowing how to choose the right moment for something, which requires intimate knowledge of oneself.
3. Are you animated by the best of intentions? The more you seek to do good and to take the best path, the less likely you will be to make poor choices.
These are the three questions to ask those who come to seek our advice about their decisions, be they life-transforming or not.
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