The sounds of silence

Silence_iStock_JoshuaHodgePhotographyThe visiting priest spoke fondly in his homily about his growing up. Then he said, “Aren’t we all so lucky to have such great, loving families?” My husband and I glanced at each other quizzically. Our parish domestic violence ministry is growing steadily; the divorce group is going strong, as is the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. That makes us just like any other parish. Many in the pews were doubtless thinking, “I’m happy for you, Father, but that’s not quite my experience.”

I know countless people raised by alcoholics, some of whom as kids never brought their friends home because of what dreadful scene might unfold. People who have brothers and fathers in prison. Successful lawyers whose fathers never said one word of approval to them. I have a friend whose paternal grandmother was so hateful toward her that she told my friend, then an adolescent, not long after her father’s funeral, “Your father never loved you.” I know people whose mothers cut them repeatedly with angry, spiteful words, even when they were small children. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, suicide—you don’t have to go far to find any of it. Better that we not pretend that it does not exist. Continue reading

Kids online: It’s a jungle out there

Teenage Girl Victim Of Bullying By Text MessagingWhen Amy, mother of two teen boys and an 11-year-old girl, discovered that children in her daughter’s class were using the social photo-sharing app Instagram inappropriately, she responded by not just taking action for her own daughter, she got all the parents on board.

“The girls were using Instagram as bullying—taking pictures of gatherings that some girls weren’t invited to, and then sending or posting the pictures,” she says. “And the boys were using it to send and post inappropriate pictures.” Continue reading

Don’t be your child’s rescue squad

GirlsSoccer_Flirck_RichardBHA couple years ago, when Jon’s daughter tried out for the local club soccer team, she was placed on the B team. “Kayla had been the star of her rec team the year before,” Jon says. “My wife and I thought this was a huge miss on the club’s part.” Jon knew the club’s director and called him to ask that Kayla be given a chance to play on the A team. Feeling pressured, the director did as Jon asked, and Kayla landed on the A squad.

Now, looking back on the season, Jon feels that he made a poor decision asking to have his daughter moved. Continue reading

Why are we throwing a fit about crying rooms?

crying baby RGBdKTlW4Since most of us have experienced the crying room at some point in our churchgoing careers, consider what U.S. Catholic’s Molly Jo Rose has to say about this hotly debated parish space. Please take the survey after the article.

On a scale of one to 10, my kid goes to 11. At age 4, he’s high energy, high intelligence, and often highly challenging. I love everything about my little wild man until Sunday morning comes and we’re at Mass and everyone’s staring at me like I brought an ape into the room. Continue reading

The inner work of working out

runner womanBring spirituality into your exercise routine by approaching your half hour on the elliptical, track, or yoga mat with intention. Consider putting down the earphones in an effort to listen to your own soul and the message of God.

“Rather than seeing your body as something you have to ignore or get around in order to move forward spiritually, you can begin to look for ways to bring the two together,” writes Mary DeTurris Poust in Everyday Divine: A Catholic Guide to Active Spirituality (Alpha). Continue reading

Don’t let kids off too easy

kid mowing lawn morguefile0001427147596Sometimes, in an effort to show kindness to their children, kind and compassionate parents make the mistake of not holding their children accountable. In their effort to be loving, these parents fail to recognize that parental love requires them to set limits, ask kids to do their fair share, and teach children about sacrifice. If you see hints that your child is adverse to hard work or is looking at the world in a rather entitled way, do a quick check of your own parenting to see if you help your child to see the needs of others.

• I love you so much that I’m making you take out the garbage. Every child should have daily chores that they’re expected to do that benefit the family. School-aged children should be involved in tasks like doing dishes, emptying the dishwasher, and setting the table in addition to their personal responsibilities—making their own bed, cleaning up their room. Older children can be expected to do bigger jobs on weekends, such as mowing the lawn or doing the laundry. Continue reading

Let kids learn from loss

angel crying RGB stock dMBY9CMark Jelacic, a funeral director and father of four, has devoted his career to walking with families in times of grief. “Grief shared is grief diminished,” he says. “This is an old adage but a good one. Let children ask you questions and try to answer them in a supportive, yet simple manner. Honesty works the best; tell them the truth. Tragedies happen, but they need to know their adults, mom and dad, will be there for them. Continue reading

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