Let us be an instrument of peace—while parenting.
My 15-year-old daughter has recently begun asking how my day was at work. The first day she asked, I stammered an answer, “Um. Fine. I had some meetings.” As she continued asking each week, I began to answer more thoughtfully, telling her about an interesting project, a problem, or a funny colleague. As I spoke, I found myself looking at her to see if she was even interested in my story. She was, and I felt a bit incredulous.
With confidence comes the respect of classmates.
Last week, while I was at work, an e-mail pinged in from my friend Machelle. Noticing that it was titled simply, “Recess,” I cringed as I clicked to open it. Machelle has four young children and is not one to send me notes about cute antics; if the title was “recess,” it was about something that went wrong at recess—either with her children or my own.
I quickly read the e-mail. I was right. Her fifth-grade son had approached her, crying, at lunch recess, when she was dropping off her kindergartner for the afternoon. Some boys in his class would not let him play basketball.
Rejoice in all the holy moments of family life.
Prayer doesn’t always come easy for me, particularly extemporaneous prayer—putting my thoughts, needs, and desires in front of God off the top of my head. When I realized that the way to teach my son to pray would be by praying with him, I tried using a simple format: “What do you want to thank God for today?” I’d ask. The answer was often as silly as it was profound: “Dumptwuck,” he’d answer. “And da moon and stahs.” I’d follow up by asking who we should ask God to bless. His response was long; he’d list friends from day care, teachers, extended family, and, of course, Mama and Papa.
There are plenty of ways to foster faith in youth.
When Mary Clare Murray’s 8-year-old daughter came home with questions about why Catholics worship statues, Murray gave a simple explanation. Catholics don’t worship statues, said the mother of six from St. John the Beloved Parish in McLean, Virginia. Statues and pictures help us focus our minds to pray.
The question originated in a playground conversation between her daughter, who attends public school, and a classmate. Her daughter shared the explanation with her friend.
Are you teaching your kids that having fun means buying things?
Samantha, an executive for a Fortune 100 company and mother of two, loves to shop. While her job requires her to be nicely dressed, Samantha admits that she also often uses shopping as recreation. She brings her children shopping with her, and as a reward for waiting patiently while she tries on clothes and looks at jewelry, she’ll buy them a new toy, gadget, or outfit.
Our church is saved by those who run into the fire, not by those who pretend it's not burning.
I was standing in my kitchen when I learned Notre-Dame de Paris was on fire. A friend had posted about the fire on Facebook before I even heard about it on the news. I tapped into a live video.
Watching the billowing smoke and flames, then the roof and tower collapsing, I was filled with a heaviness and a sorrow that was all too familiar.
“The church is on fire,” I texted to my friend. “And I don’t mean Notre-Dame.”
Give your kids the words they need to become good communicators.
I know I’m not supposed to play favorites with parts of the Mass, but I do. I most look forward to the homily, and a good one will stick with me for a week or more. Too often I regard the first reading, psalm response, and various beautiful prayers as transitional parts of the Mass that propel me toward my favorite parts.
Most Sundays if you would ask me what the psalm was, I’d probably stare at you blankly. But on a recent Sunday, Psalm 137 leapt out at me: “Let my tongue be silent, O Lord, my God, if I should ever forget about you.”
It is not in spite but because of life's disappointments that we must foster children's spiritual imaginations.
Recently a friend of mine posted in a Facebook group for moms that she was concerned about her son who was expressing a sincere love of God, a response which pained her. “I wish I could just enjoy it and not feel this weird sadness about it,” she said.
I briefly considered a joke: “This is very on-brand for you.” My friend, for as long as I’ve known her, has wrestled with how to talk to her kids about matters of faith. I wouldn’t call her a cynic, because it’s her awareness of how good the world can and should be that makes the awareness of the negative so troubling.
We cannot lead our children toward peace if we ourselves are feeling unsettled.
Beth, a mother of four ages 5 to 12, admits that her children may see her as June Cleaver. “I don’t know that they’ve ever seen me in my pajamas in the morning,” Beth says. “By the time they get up, I’m showered and dressed with my makeup on.” Far from being an aspiring 1950s housewife, however, Beth explains that getting up an hour before her children is something she does for herself—not her kids.
“Once they get up, my life is crazy,” she says. “Taking the time in the quiet, before that first kid wakes up, gives me the peace I need to start the day.”
It’s easy to love our children when they are being sweet. But what about when they act particularly rotten?
This morning Liam, our 10-year-old, was upset because I wouldn’t let him eat Cocoa Krispies for breakfast. Despite a long-standing rule that sugared cereal is for weekends only, Liam thought this should be the morning that I made an exception. I said no.
Liam, overtired from staying up past his bedtime the night before, was soon a wailing mess on the couch. I held my ground and went about my morning routine matter-of-factly, deciding that ignoring Liam was the strategy that made the most sense.