Take a moment of silence with your kids

Candle RGBmfIQkguFor most families, there is no such thing as a 10-minute pocket of silence during the day. Yet our faith tradition and science are coming together to agree that a time of sitting without thoughts—call it centering prayer, meditation, or strong sitting—is beneficial to both children and adults. Several studies have found meditation to reduce anxiety levels, improve self-awareness and self-control, and improve attention skills. The Bible says it like this: “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).
One method of many:
• Have each child sit cross-legged on a pillow facing a wall in a room, with eyes open and mouth closed.
• Gently explain that they should pick one sacred word—love, God, peace, Christ—and should let all thoughts flow out of their mind.
• Set the timer for one minute per year of the child’s age (or the average if you have several children).
• Approach centering prayer as a gift even if children don’t look forward to it—compliment them for any success they have in sitting quietly.

By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2014 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for   four years running. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

Like us on Facebook and follow Homefaith on Twitter.

Teach your children well, part two

morguefile mom and baby(continued from last week, this is from our series on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. This week, instructing the ignorant.) Maggie, mother of three grade schoolers, believes that teaching the Golden Rule is paramount. “There are times when I know one of my children has done something to make someone else feel left out or upset,” Maggie says. “I can draw on their experiences of when this happened to them to remind them that it doesn’t feel good, and they should only treat others how they want to be treated. I am far from perfect myself, but because I teach this to my children so often, I have become much more thoughtful toward others in my words and actions.”

John, father of five, says that his main instruction to his children is to pray at all times. “Often this seems to fall upon deaf ears,” he says. When his daughter was 9, however, she told him that when her class went on a field trip to a Marian shrine, she prayed for a lump that had been on her forehead to go away, and it did.

Whether or not this was a true miracle or just a case of his daughter’s body naturally healing itself wasn’t the point to John. For him, what mattered was that his daughter took her faith seriously enough to pray at the shrine. John was moved that his daughter would have a conversation with God aside from in church or with the family—about something that was a personal concern. “Humbled and grateful, I felt like I had passed on a bit of my own faith to my child,” John says.

Beth and Steve (not their real names) feel that their approach to marriage has taught their children about the sacrament. When the children were younger, the two attended Retrouvaille—a weekend experience for couples in struggling marriages. “We’ve explained  to our children that it wasn’t always easy for us to be married. Today we show that our marriage is very important to us by doing things that enrich our marriage at our church or other events,” Steve says. “We also have couples doing marriage preparation at our house while our children are home. Our children see that we respect the sacrament of marriage and want to help these new couples in their journey.”

Instruction leading to transformation—one lesson at a time.

By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2014 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for   four years running. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

Like us on Facebook and follow Homefaith on Twitter.

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Teach your children well

Madona_of_mercyThe first installment in our series asking parents to reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy–this week “Instructing the Ignorant.”

LaTonya and Jerrell, married 19 years, with three children between 5 and 15, bring opposite personalities to parenting. LaTonya is a take-charge person, with strong opinions of how children should behave, do homework, and use their free time. Jerrell, a researcher, describes himself as a “laid-back scientist” not only in his career, but in parenting as well. Slow to direct the kids, he prefers to watch them learn things on their own. Both see “instructing the ignorant” as a work of mercy that applies both in their own family and in the greater world.

“While we don’t really use the word ‘ignorant,’ I think the spirit of what we’re trying to do is instruct our kids in the right way to live,” says Jerrell. “My wife and I have really different styles, but our goal is the same—to raise kids to be adults whose morality and decisions are guided by their faith.”

LaTonya agrees. “My approach is to head off problems with the kids; my husband’s is to discuss the consequences afterward,” she says. “I think the main thing is that we both realize that children can learn something from every situation, and it’s our job to make sure that learning takes place and that kids aren’t going through their lives without thought.”

While few parents consciously consider this work of mercy as they go through day-to-day life, parents, more than most people, intuitively understand its power. “Instruction helps people to see things from a different point of view and invites them to conversion and transformation,” writes Patricia M. Vinje in The Encyclopedia of Catholicism (HarperCollins). For parents, transformation is the goal of parenting—we spend 18 years transforming the helpless baby we receive into a young adult able to meet life on his or her own. Good instruction leads to beautiful transformation.  …continued next week

By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2014 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for   four years running. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

Like us on Facebook and follow Homefaith on Twitter.

Image: Ravensburg Madonna of Mercy (1480s), Staatliche Museen, Berlin

 

 

 

The Sunday side of the street

shadow_iStock_joelblitThe entrance procession to Our Lady of Mercy Church begins long before the servers start up the aisle. Take our family, for instance—we walk, or sometimes run, down Sunnyside Avenue, where our feet must by now have worn their own groove into the sidewalk, in the footsteps of thousands of families who have walked to Sunday Mass here for the last 100 years. Our procession includes a family footrace on a certain half block, decreed by our son years ago. At least we’re in good biblical company: Didn’t Peter and John race each other to the empty tomb?

We climb the steps into church, where Charles tells us his son is finally back in the country after serving in Afghanistan for several years. Whew. And here’s Carol, who grew up in the days before girl servers, who once told me how much it means to her to see our daughter serve so confidently. Continue reading

You don’t need all the answers, part two

mom and daughter(continued from last week)

Use what you don’t know. St. Augustine said, “God is not what you imagine or understand. If you think you understand, you have failed.” This mystery of God’s movement can help parents and children continue to seek God’s will for us. When Brigid, mother of four, lost her job, she explained to her four children, “Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all on the ‘God plan.’ ” Bringing faith into family life doesn’t mean providing all the answers. Rather, it means admitting that you turn over the struggle, pain, and uncertainty of life to God.

Allow the privilege of church attendance.  While we often speak of church attendance as an obligation, a study from Mississippi State University shows that children whose parents regularly take them to church benefit behaviorally, emotionally, and cognitively. Continue reading

You don’t need all the answers

dad play with son outdoor at parkShortly after the Boston Marathon bombing, Angie’s daughter Charlotte, 8, was struggling with why the bombers would do such a terrible thing. Charlotte asked her mother question after question about the bombings, straining to get all the information so as to answer her big question, “But why?”

Angie answered as many questions as she could, but eventually she recognized that with the question of why, her daughter was looking for a worldview. So Angie changed her tactic. “I told her that the bad news is what is often reported, but God wishes for us to do good and most people strive for this,” Angie says. “I suggested that when she sees something good happening, she should pass it along to someone else, so that news is spread.”

A few weeks later, Charlotte approached her mom and told her about an act of kindness a boy in her class had done for her, explaining that she was practicing what her mom said about passing on the good news. Continue reading

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