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Thursday, October 10, 2013

A few questions and thoughts from a connected mom

I am interested in reading the one on Parenting Good Social Citizens as I want to ensure there are "how to" tools that parents can use to teach our children social and emotional skills that you seem to refer to. But most important: how to engage children in having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? And how to prevent that in later years they rebel because they feel that parents forced the faith on them.

I have a 7 year old daughter is just said last night "It is MY choice, not yours mom" on whether she should do something or pray. And for the first time, I hear "Mom, I really like someone"... thank God my husband Jesus and I don't react but rather respond asking wisdom from the Holy Spirit!

So do you have tools to help us counteract these lies that the enemy is feeding our children? If we do not address them, these lies become entrenched and they base their choices and behaviors on these deceptive thoughts. The enemy is actively working to create a divide among children and parents. The truth is that the faith formation classes offered at parishes are ineffective at building and strengthening that relationship in Christ so they can support the work and faith formation and leading by example we do at home. M. C.

My response: 

I think my book (Mothers Forever, Fathers Forever: Parenting Against the Tide)  fits the bill that you are hoping for. That was my intent – to offer tools on how to parent good social citizens, children of faith, etc. ... I think I forgot to attach the first lesson so here it is again.

How did you respond to your daughter when she said it is her choice? My suggestion would be the following: God, as a loving parent, gave us all free will. This is true, all of us have our own choice to make however that is also why God gave you parents rather than having human babies on their own completely after being born like many animals. Certainly by the age of seven, all animals are on their own. So by your age, they have to fend for themselves, feed themselves, etc. I don’t think you want that or are ready for that. Then God also laid on our hearts the commandment of obedience. We obey for good reason (outlined in my book). Even Jesus was obedient to his father . Children have the duty of obeying their parents in part because of appreciation for being given life freely, being taken care of …. Etc. So, right now, it is our choice to pray and since you are a child and bound by obedience, you will pray as well with us.

 Regarding I really like someone. That’s fine dear except, why do you really like that someone… Then have that discussion and suggest that love and like are two different things. IT’s ok to like someone but we are called to like everyone. Inform her again, that at the age of 7, one is not ready to be exclusive. Not even at 15 or 18. (again, in the book)….

The book doesn’t have these types of examples, that’s the purpose of the book club. And also my blog… check that out as well. I am happy to continue our dialogue. I am going to post your questions and my responses on my blog after I finish with this email.

Also you should ask her where she came up with the choice thing? I doubt it was her own idea…. So that would be a good line of questioning to pursue.

And I agree, the forces are there to separate parents from teens and children. That is the whole point of our Parenting Teens: Building Strong Futures; Daughters Forever, Sons Forever, etc.


Linda Kracht 
Fortifying Families of Faith 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Another scandal, more hand wringing, assurances from the Church that they will try harder... The result is that people lose faith in their church leaders and it affects their faith in God. That's the truth. That's the problem. What's the solution?

While it is unlikely that the majority of the faithful will serve on the panel to investigate sexual misconduct by priests, we ought to. After all, we are the faithful in the pews who year after year support the Church with our time, talent and treasure. We are also the ones who want to protect our children from abuse of any kind. We are also the source of tomorrow's priests. We have a lot to give We have a lot of reasons to make sure this stops happening.

In light of that these are my suggestions, concerns, and solutions.

1. It's time to start admitting that clergy misconduct is a whole lot more than misconduct. It is SIN with a Mortal consequence. It destroys lives of faith. It is sin that shrinks membership into the church. It is sin that fails to evangelize.

2. Its time to admit that clergy misconduct gets its start long before the actual incident of pedophilia or adultery takes place.

3. It's time to admit that few parishioners want a priest to act as minister when he is mired down by personal temptations and problems.

4. It's time to admit that failing to admit the truth is always problematic.

Long ago a priest friend told me that the Bishops and priests who seem to hide behind sanitized press releases and lack courage to fully support all aspects of authentic, orthodox life and love issues fail to do so because they have been compromised by some personal sin. This could explain the lack of leadership in and outside of the church.

5. It's time to admit that clergy misconduct includes downloading pornographic images of any kinds.

6. It's time to admit that clergy visits to brothels, hot spots in the city, chat-rooms,etc. is an act of clergy misconduct. It is not just playing with fire as suggests Fr. McDonough. It is an act of misconduct that ought to be punished immediately.

7. It's time to admit that a priest's  sexual encounter with any person, any age of person, any time, any place is an act of clergy misconduct. But acts of pedophilia are even more heinous because it involves a minor who is young, impressionable, and vulnerable. Priests take the vow of permanent chastity and we can rightfully and righteously hold them to that standard - no matter how perverted our general society is getting. We have to have priests willing to live differently if we are to teach others how to love. 

8. It's time to change the language and the words used to describe the misconduct.

9.  It's time to change the way church leaders inform seminarians about the consequences of the misconduct. For example, several years ago, I asked our parish assistant priest what/how the seminary trains them  with regard to sexual scandals. This is his reply: "They tell us to make sure we never involve a parishioner!" My reply: a priest preparing a young couple for marriage would never tell either person to make sure any adulterous affair didn't involve someone they knew! Why any seminary training would suggest the above, explains the problem - partly.

Also there is no way to give proper feedback when a young seminarian is assigned to a parish. Why are there not proper channels that we can rely on to offer the feedback - both positive and negative.

10. Corporations have long instituted a policy of inspecting all computer usage among employees for inappropriate usage. The Diocese ought to institute the same scrutiny of the priests' computers, laptops, iphones, any internet access points.  The first offense is punishable immediately and appropriately - removal from ministry.

11. Provide clergy living accommodations in which priests are held accountable to each other. The priests ought to live with other priests.

12. Security cameras ought to be installed in each office.

13. Accountability to everyone is necessary. Priests need to be protected from loneliness by instituting regular community discussions about these matters. It's not happening now according to more than one priest source.

Simple solutions for complex problems. These work.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Catholics Cheer Pope's Remarks

Words matter. How we interpret words matter. Twisting words to massage our consciences matters.  

What did the Pope really mean during the three interviews by Antonio Spadaro, S.J. Editor in chief of La Civilta Cattolica (August 2013; Rome)? It seemed to fire the shot that was heard round the world. The interview was captured and then translated for the English world by a team of five translators. It was also translated into the various languages of the world for both believers and non. Interestingly, it continues to be in the news even a week later - that is impressive considering the news cycle seems to last one day at most - maybe a week if its huge. To read the 12000 word interview,  visit for yourself what you think the Pope was trying to say. This is my interpretation of his message.

 Francis' sentence (lifted from the translated document):  "The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules" does not in any way match up with the following statement from the press: "The church has become too focused on small minded rules on hot button issues like homosexuality, abortion and contraceptives?"

First, note that Pope Francis does not define when, where, and how the church has locked itself up in small things! Yet the press took that statement and defined it for the rest of us by running all of his next thoughts together as if this is the context of what he was thinking. In fact, NARAL thanked the Pope for including Abortion in this small mindedness. So what does Pope Francis do and say next? He meets with Catholic physicians the very next day and says the following: "Your being Catholic entails greater responsibility: first of all to yourself, in the effort to be consistent with the Christian vocation, and then to contemporary culture, to help recognize the transcendent dimension in human life, the imprint of the creative work of God, from the very first moment of conception. This is a commitment to the new evangelization that often requires going against the tide, paying a personal price. The Lord counts on you to spread the 'Gospel of life.'"!
Pope Francis strongly condemned abortion as a manifestation of a “throwaway culture.”
"Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world," the pope said. 

Do these words sound like a sentiment that NARAL can support?

The same can be said for the Pope's comments about contraception and homosexuality. As he says: he is a son of the Church. This means he has been formed by the Church and faith, hope and charity. He loves the Church but is its newest visionary, He sees how it can do more. He sees the need to bring the truth to people in a new way, a new language, and personally with love!  

I think he is saying this... Faith doesn't seem real to the little people when priests, clergy, Archbishops and Cardinals are buried by administrative details and fail to connect with the people on a daily basis - the little people not the big shots of the world. Religion doesn't seem to make a difference when so much of the donated money goes to bureaucracy rather than direct aid to the people of hurricanes, and other disaster relief. It doesn't seem to make a difference when we fail to provide ongoing help for women in troubled relationships and/or pregnancies - personally and time and  time again. It has little impact when the religion does little to nothing to support parents with special needs pregnancies. It seems to have little impact when young people attend Catholic academies for their  academics and sports and not matters of faith and charitable works of mercy and vocation development. It seems to have less impact when special needs children are left out of the Catholic education system. The pre-marriage formation programs last only weeks and we wonder why divorce is so common among believers. Church going parents seem to just be going through the motions when attending Mass and doing little to  nothing to swim against the tide of materialism and secularism. It does little good to hear the admonishments that we need to hear but think it points to someone else. It does little good to take the Pope's words and twist them so they fit my lifestyle. It does little good to talk against contraception without being able to explain why cogently and consistenly. It does little good to talk against homosexuality without conducting Catholic studies that really look at what it is and why is comes about. It does little good when we  'behold a God dead on the cross for our sake and not love him." It does little good when we behold a God dead on the cross for our sake and not be appreciative of his sacrifice and proving it by changing the way we live!

Is the Pope bringing the Church to a new place? I think so but not the place talked about in the secular press or by many of us. The real Pope is a revolutionary for Christ. He means it when he says " I ask you to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility;  that you are incapable of true love."

Does this sound to you like he is trivializing abortion, contraception and homosexuality? It sounds to me as if he is really calling us to an even higher plain - to the Beatitudes. This is a tall order and only with God's grace can we love authentically. That means being close to Christ and he never suggested that we ought to just go along to get along!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Bullying - What Parents Can Do About It 

Recently, a twelve year old girl jumped to her death. The local sheriff said that the girl committed suicide after being bullied online by over a dozen girls. Not sure that's the real story... but if you want to read more:

What troubles me about the report is what isn't said. What were the parents doing about the bullying? Did they know? If not, why not? Was the girl getting appropriate counseling and support at home? Why was she online so often and with odd sorts of social media? Even foreign ones? Why did this twelve year old girl have all the time in the world for the online posting but lacked personal, face to face friendships? Why her interest in the story? Why our interest in this story. I am pretty certain, there are other twelve year old girls contemplating and committing suicide but the news media doesn't cover that out of respect for the family. Why this story? What's in it to shock us?

Am I suggesting that the bullies are not culpable? Of course they are; but, we have to ask: who are the players that led up to this death? What led up to the act? What was her family life like? Did she have any good family support? If not, why did the sheriff zero in on the online bullies? Was he misquoted or taken out of context?  It appears as if her self esteem had tanked a while back or she would have had more to do than post what she did on Facebook.

Not knowing the full story, it's easy to assign blame to one group while looking away from another  In my opinion, the authorities ought to look beyond, (while including in the mix), the online bullies. They need to find out whether  this girl was abused by a 'trusted' acquaintance, friend, teacher, relative or parent.

The take away for me is this: what we say and write matters. Several days ago, my sister said to me: America has to change. We have got to stop spouting our mouths off about anything and everything that we know nothing about! Perhaps she was referring to my blog overtly! Her point was this: none of us are any longer being held accountable for the things we say  unless we get suddenly are thrown in the limelight. Then things we said or did decades ago can be held against us depending on who exposes it and why. But for the most part, the average Joe gets to say anything - even when it is completely fact less  - and no one challenges him on anything he says or why he says it. Yet the cumulative effect is there! There has been a steady state erosion of civil dialogue and commentary - both public and private. There is a general coarsening of the words used. If someone is offended we act as if they are too simple or native! It's their problem. Don't believe me - check out the Facebook postings! They are anything but civil. This girl was taunted to kill herself over and over again!  And so the cycle of hurt people hurting people continues without check. Listen to the TV, radio, awards' presentations! Shock talk is everywhere!  And it comes at the expense of someone!

Let me list a few more examples of bullying that seems ordinary and acceptable of late: a street gang of college students followed Gen. Petraeus to his first class at City University of NY all the while calling him a baby killer, a war criminal, etc. Even if they disagreed with his position as General of the US Army, where is treating each other with human dignity gone? The pundits right and left using name calling to get their point across. Maybe even the re-posting of things I find humorous are offensive to some others.  It has to start with each of us - person to person. Even if everyone around us is name calling, being liars, being a bully, we have to resist the urge to match fire with fire. Yes, its humanly impossible but not when we arm ourselves with supernatural grace.

And parents have to step up their game. They can't have it both ways. Either they attend to their parenting duties or they admit they can't. All of us have to make sure our own children are not bullied in ways that spiral out of control. We have to give them effective tools when they are bullied. We have to  fill the emotional tanks of our children so they don't care about the bullies they encounter. We have to make sure we know what our kids are doing and why! We have to set the example or else bad stuff like this happens and then its too late to do something about it.
You can read more about this in my next book due to be released in November, 2013 entitled Mothers Forever, Fathers Forever. The subtitle is still up for grabs...

Finally, we have to make sure that we say what we mean and mean what we say in a civil way!
It just isn't true that sticks and stones can break my bones but words can't ever hurt me!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Obvious Contradictions - Where America Goes Blind

Contradictions do not normally need any explanations because they are so obviously ridiculous - that is unless we refuse to acknowledge or recognize them.What follows is a short list of the more obvious contradictions that Americans seem content to put up with.... Some of the contradictions are addressed in the form of a question.

This will be updated as more come to light.

1. Choice assigns pregnant women the unilateral right to decide to have  an abortion or not. Fathers of these babies have no say in this decision primarily because they  are not the ones who are carrying the baby even though the baby would not be present without him. 

2. Mothers have all the say prior to birth yet after birth are told that it takes a village to raise a child.

3. Minors need their parents' consent to get their ears pierced, have an appendectomy  or other medical procedure with the exception of procuring an abortion.

4. All states allow for abortion of an unborn baby; criminals who kill a pregnant mother can be charged with two murders in 20 plus states.

5.  Dennis Rodman goes to North Korea and touts the goodness of a dictator that continues to sentence dissenters into concentration camps. Is that why Rodman seems so agreeable with Kim? He doesn't want to be put in one!  Yet, he refuses to defend the rights of  his fellow American sentenced to 15 years of hard labor just because he wanted to bring the message of the Bible to N. Korea. 

6. The US couldn't launch a rescue mission to Benghazi according to the president, but Syria is more of a national interest than the lives of the 50 people in Benghazi.

7. Help me, Harlan (regular columnist for St. Paul Pioneer Press)  offers this advice on 9-10-2013 to Conflicted (when asked: If I have a girlfriend back home and I want to have sex in college, what do I do? I still have feelings for my girlfriend but I feel conflicted."). Have sex with yourself, break up with your girlfriend and date other girls ... Don't cheat! Wait to see if the idea of random sex with random girls is worth losing what you have. " And what is that Harlan? You already told him to break up with his girlfriend and have sex with himself. As if that will be fulfilling and non-cheating! Maybe this advice counselor needs counseling.

8. CBS reported that people with Down Syndrome may hold the keys to our understanding of Alzheimer Disease. After all, about 50% of these people get Alzheimer Disease by the age of 40; the remainder don't exhibit the Disease yet have plague buildup on the brain. Nearly 90% of all parents given the prenatal diagnosis of Trisomy 21 elect to have an abortion. Doesn't look like we will be having any answers for Alzheimer Disease in the near future... 

9.  There are only a few (rare exception) Catholic schools (in the nation) that willingly admit and recruit children with special needs - even though the Church is solidly against abortion of these children. That includes CCD religious educational programs as well.

10. The American people want answers for the IRS scandal, Benghazi, the NSA email scandal but don't get them from the people they vote into office. Will they keep voting for these incumbents anyway?

11. Why do we only have term limits on the office of the President?

12. America is concerned about eating disorders, yet the only one talked about openly involves those regarding over eating and being overweight.

13.  The Assad regime has been the sole protector of the Christian sects in Syria according to some articles.

14. America did nothing during the genocide in Rwanda; over 1 million people were slaughtered by government sponsored tribal peoples.

15. We are the richest country in the world, yet we can't lift the poor out of poverty. Since the War on Poverty was launched, we have more Americans in poverty than when it began.

16. Women's health issues focus on how to avoid being a wife and mother - by choice.

17. Men's health issues center principally on how to be sexually active.

18. Contraception was touted as being the thing that would save and improve upon marriages; since its nearly worldwide use, marriage rates have fallen and divorce rates have skyrocketed.

19. We are in a time of economic sequestering - we even had to limit air traffic controller hours, cut back on national park services, and close the White House to tours; suddenly we have 100 million dollars available to send cruise missiles into Syria. 

20. Kids are out but pets are in.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Change in the Way We Look at the Unexpected Pregnancy

Decades back, an unexpected pregnancy was a very exciting, happy experience! This was the case because way back then, many couples had in fact been struggling for years - maybe even decades - with infertility, miscarriage, and sterility! Their unexpected pregnancy was a joyful experience.

If you look back in your geneology records, most of you will find an aunt or sister that just couldn't get pregnant even though she and her husband wanted a baby! These childless couples are even mentioned in the Bible! But they were childless - not by choice but by chance and there weren't any answers or solutions for these couples.

The lack of answers and lack of solutions helped  preserve the mystery of conception and fertility!

Fast forward to 2013. We know, words matter but their meaning changes with the times. Today, the term unexpected pregnancy isn't regarded as a joyful experience at all; rather it is presumed to be the woman's  fault! When we hear the term we don't really want to know about when or with whom she is having sex. In other words, we really don't care if she is 13 or 45; whether this is her first partner or her 50th partner; whether she loves the individual or not; whether the relationship is a committed one; whether she is committing adultery, or why. We just want to know why she was not managing her birth control better! She should have known better - after all this is 2013 and she could have used the Pill, the Patch, the Plug or been Permanently fixed!

Sexuality is now just one more utilitarian act that demands utilitarian attitudes, approaches, measures and standards. We have stripped away the love. We have stripped away the commitment. We have stripped away the mystery of the conception. We have eradicated the respect for the mystery. We have de-coupled pregnancy from sexual relationships. And it has garnered more infertility and man-imposed sterility than most previous modern day generations. We are well on the road to eradicating future generations in America just because we have thrown the baby out with the love - literally speaking. We are hooked on utilitarian solutions and we will pay for this. We were not made for bread alone.... . 

What other consequences are there? What ever happened to expecting men to share in the responsibility and the blame for the sexual partnership? Women pretend that they are now fully emancipated - from old fashioned moral standards and the trappings of traditional marriage.  But what a hoax! Women admit to still feeling pressured into having sex with their partner or husband for fear of being dumped for willing female competitors. Why else do women act and dress the way they do? They have made themselves into a commodity.

Why are women the major consumers of birth control products? Why was the HPV vaccine first offered only to young girls? Did you know that the majority of parents refused in large measure to have their girls vaccinated? Because of that refusal to go along with the vaccination program for their young girls, the HHS decided to include boys in the program as well! But why wasn't that inclusion part of their first objective? After all, men and boys infect their partners with HPV; they also  acquire devastating cancers just like women!

W have also become dependent on man-made technologies which in the long run helped to change the way we view sexuality. We have turned into a society that serves the technology rather than the other way around. We march to the orders of the technology - we align ourselves with the technology so we are modern, informed, protected, and like everyone else. We have become utilitarians for love of the technology. The technologies reduce human conditions to plumbing problems. What was once mysterious is now mundane!  Consequently, we have failed to hold onto the concept that fertility is a gift - and it should be treasured and appreciated - not because we want a pregnancy - but because it just is!

Years ago, a speaker from RESOLVE (a support group for infertile couples) said that couples came to accept their infertility faster years ago compared to today's couples because of the fact that their number of options was next to zero. Today, the options are multiple and complex - leading couples to think that if they just had more money - there would be a way. And they are right - assisted reproduction is a big business but that misses the point of this article. 
Old fashioned morality made sex outside of marriage wrong. Modern morality makes sex outside of marriage the norm ok while making the unexpected pregnancy the new NO-NO. Many young people don't see sex as the problem - they see the baby as the problem. We have again successfully placed the blame on the wrong person! Hasn't that been an age old problem starting with Adam and Eve? The problem is we no longer see our own sins....

 At this rate, we really won't ever have to worry about over-population again. But we ought to worry about the state of humanity. We have all just gotten a bit more cheap with our enslavement to things.

So when you hear the term - unexpected pregnancy - what do you think of? What advice do you offer? Who do you blame?

Linda Kracht

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Forgiveness - the Holy Healer

Forgiveness - the holy healer

We have all been injured by someone. Sometimes the injury is minor; sometimes it isn't. Either way it comes our way - physically, mentally, emotionally, verbally.... in playgrounds, grocery stores, homes, parking lots, school, etc.

Today is the first day of school, and we know that some of the kids will bring their emotional hurts to school. It's true, that hurt people hurt people and so the cycle of injury continues... until we decide enough is enough. And that's where forgiveness comes in.

Immaculee Ilibagiza, genocide survivor, teaches us about forgiveness first hand in the book Left to Tell. Immaculee barely survived the Rwanda genocide that took place in the mid 90's in which over  one million Rwandans were brutally murdered by fellow Rwandans.... Why did this brutality occur? Fear, hatred, repressed anger, and other usual suspects were the reasons used by neighbors to kill other neighbors. The dead included Immaculee's beloved mother, father, and two brothers.

Americans harbor a lot of the same vices which turn violent when they reach the tipping point. Domestic violence is widespread as is neighborhood or gang violence. There are a lot of hurt people hurting a lot of people.

Bringing violent people to justice is always going to be necessary in order to prevent them from hurting others. But what about the victims? Should they seek justice or vengeance - that is the question.

Immaculee teaches us that only forgiveness can turn hatred and injustice into charity! Pope Francis teaches us the same.... Most of us will never have to forgive someone who killed our family... but all of us will have to forgive someone who says he/she love us.

None of us are perfect and all of us are guilty of being insensitive to others' feelings. All of us lack understanding.All of us are impatient. Who are we to expect someone else to be perfect when we aren't.

But how do we forgive the little offenses? We really can't without some supernatural help. And that is the point of the book! With God all things are possible - even forgiveness for those who try to take from us - even life!

If we don't forgive , we will end up just as hateful and vengeful as the perpetrators.

Immaculee ends with this note: "Tens of thousands who were jailed for killing during he genocide are starting to be released into their old towns and villages. If there was ever a time for forgiveness it is now. Rwanda can be a paradise again, but it till take the love of the entire world to heal my homeland... the love of a single heart can make a world of difference. .... " Her message applies to the US as well.

We continue to be torn and divided by differences in politics, beliefs, and practices. For those of us who say we are Christian, we can change hearts by proving that we love - really. And that takes forgiveness - the supernatural type that comes to us by way of prayer, devotion to the Divine Will, and dying to selfishness and self-centeredness. The Pope has called for a day of sacrifice and fast on Saturday, September 7th for peace in Syria. Let's begin there.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Religion, Politics and Money

For at least five generations, it has been taboo to talk about religion, politics and money with just anyone. Sure, it was okay to talk about these things in the privacy of the home but never on street corners, public events, and general dinner parties. That was then - what about now? Is it any different?

Social media has connected people to people in amazing ways. But do these connections really allow for a discussion about things that matter - like faith, religion, politics and money? Does the new social medias help connect people to people by changing hearts, and minds? Does it allow a more civil discourse? Does it move the goal post to caring for others as we should? Do we take time to really think about what someone has posted? Even if it offends us? Do we try and understand where they are coming from? Or do we delete them as a friend instead? Block their postings? Block them out of sight and mind?

Several weeks ago, I posted a fact. The fact came from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics. It was that upwards of 85% of new jobs created in 2013 were part time ones. The type of jobs that don't help families with children  to get ahead. The type of jobs whereby employers do not have to provide health care benefits. The type of jobs that really do not create economic recovery. An innocuous posting - or so I thought. Apparently, the posting violated the social rule to stick to postings about my children, their successes and mine; and how to grow green grass, etc.I say that with certainty because  within a few days the comment received from a friend blistered my sensibilities. His comments were personal attacks against me, my beliefs, and my character. I re-posted the facts, this time with a graph and suggested the person get his facts straight - thinking the graph would help. What followed was a full scale attack  using language that was verbally abusive, confrontational, foul, and hurtful.  and almost threatening.

I had to consider why! Just because I had posted a factual statement about money and the economy? Or because I had posted something that referred to one of the three taboo topics: money,  politics and even religion. It is also possible, the friend didn't like my personal recommendation to  get the facts straight...

Either way, it makes me wonder if any of us really stop and consider what someone is trying to say! Really? Do any of us  think about  online postings?  Do most of us even bother to comment on each others postings? Are we simply marching down the path of  the Culture of Indifference in what seems to be a more sophisticated way - as suggested by Pope Francis. The place where we refuse to discuss things that really matter? After all, now all we have to do is block comments and people and postings that we don't like.  Even though we may have thousands of friends, do they really know what we believe? Or are we even more silent than the silent majority of the 60's and 70's?

On another note - but related - I highly recommend the book " Left to Tell"  by Immaculee. Her story is amazing... and it prompted  this blog. The people of Rawanda seemed to get along even though tell tale signs of turbulence ran just beneath the surface... In a very short time, a full scale war erupted pitting Catholics against Catholics, neighbor against neighbor, father against sons. One million people were massacred within a short period of time just because people  failed to understand each other when it came to the things that really mattered: faith, money, and politics.

Pope Francis recently told his priests just do something to counteract the fact that 85% of young Catholics leave the faith when they reach adulthood. Even if the priests make mistakes, at least do something! That pertains to us as well - let's just do something! This begins with talking about things that really matter!

What do you think? Hmmmm. how many of my friends will even bother to read this whole article (yes, I admit - this piece probably does not have much literary value but its important to me) and then post what they think? Go ahead, say what you really think. It feels good.... even if it may not be safe and secure.

Monday, March 11, 2013

When Do I Use the Worksheets?

Parents who attended Parenting Teens: Building Strong Futures are handed a number of worksheets and teaching notes. Some parents wonder what they are for and when they should use them.This posting should clarify questions you may have with regard to their use.

Question 1: How do we know what to do first? Open the parent workbook and at the start of each chapter is a clear set of instructions about what to read, when to watch a video (if one pertains to this section), etc.

Question 2: What do I do with the teaching notes handouts (numbered like 3-1 for instance)? These notes were meant to be background information for parents. You are the teacher and its best to know a bit more than the student you are teaching. In this case the student is your son or daughter. I thought these notes would be helpful information.

Question 3: What do we do with the various worksheets in the wire bound booklet entitled parent materials? 

I will include a 'schedule' for each of the following worksheets that will clarify when to use them. 

Worksheet Title - page number - when/what to do with worksheet 

Parenting Teens  - 1 - This is for your own benefit as a parent. Not to be filled out by teen. You can fill this out before getting started, halfway through, at the end of the program, or never. This is entirely for your own self - assessment.

Personality Type - 2 - This may be an interesting worksheet to complete with your  teen. I have already noted the characteristics of this type of personality. While none of us fit a type perfectly, it may be an interesting exercise for both parents and teens to go through. Make extra copies before filling the sections in. I would recommend doing this at the start of the first session. Also, have your teen draw an image of himself/herself and keep that with his/her daughters/sons workbook. 

Gender Matters - 3 - This worksheet fits nicely at the end of Chapter Three - Speaking on Gender. Please fill out this worksheet and discuss when covering this chapter. Make extra copies if you prefer to have the different people fill them out separately.  

What's Your Worldview? - 4 - This is an interesting worksheet to be filled out at the conclusion of the program  and when discussion Chapter Ten.

What's your Christian Sense - 5  -   This goes with the previous worksheet. Fill it out at the  conclusion of the program (when discussing Chapter Ten).   

Practical Strategies to Avoid Giving Mixed Messages  - 6 & 7 - Read/think about Giving Mixed Messages when covering Chapter One. Discuss this with your teens and have them also fill out the worksheet exercise after defining Mixed Messaging using Handout 6. 

I Gotta Have It - 8 - Discuss this worksheet when discussing Materialism found in Chapter Two.
Within this chapter is a discussion about dressing for success, porn, internet, and a few other topics. Be sure to discuss modesty ("it's not that it reveals too much of a person it actually reveals too little about a person" JP ll). Computer usage: limit time spent, main room, passwords, parent supervision.Social media: not before the age of 15... etc. 

Group Think - 9 & 10- Group think - another word for group think is mentality. This is arrived at in part due to peer pressure to think like everyone else. It is also accommodated by moral relativism. Use these two worksheets when discussing peer pressure in Chapter Two. Be sure and explain how peer pressure is not just something teens need to be aware of; we are all susceptible to peer pressure.   If you recall, group think is doing something perceived to be the norm without questioning the morality of an action, etc. 

Assessing Rape Attitudes - 11 - Discuss this when discussing Chapter Four and specifically the section on hooking up and dating. Have teen fill out the survey; discuss results. 

Building My Pyramid - 12 - This same worksheet is in the parent and teen workbooks. Work on this when it presents itself in the workbooks. 

Cats in the Cradle - 13 - This worksheet is really just the words to a popular song of the 1970's era. It goes well with the previous worksheet. Have teen read the words and write a ballad for himself and you. It will be a fun exercise at re-writing poetry to fit your son/daughter personally. 

Assessing your Marriage Attitude - 14 - Have your student (and yourself using a separate copy) fill our this worksheet when covering Chapter Seven - Marriage. BE sure to discuss the results of your teens' attitudes. 

Assessing your Tolerance for Divorce - 15 - This worksheet is also to be used during the discussions about Marriage.

Parents: Primary Educators of their Teens- 16 & 17 & 18  - Read worksheet Number 17 and then fill out worksheets 16 & 18. Discuss with teens. They do not have to fill out the parent worksheets 16 & 18, but they should complete worksheet 19. Discuss this at the conclusion of the program - Chapter Ten.

The Bible Teaches Teens- 19 - Have teens fill out this worksheet before discussing 16 and 18 with them.  Discuss this at the conclusion of the program - Chapter Ten.

The ISM's - 20 - 21 - A reference guide for parents.  To be filled out by parent/teen regularly throughout program. Do not wait until the end of the program to do this. Answer about 5 each chapter. 

Technologies that come back to bite - 22- To be discussed when talking about cell phones, computers, social media, etc. Use when discussing Chapter Two. Recall that Gaudium Et Spes, written by Pope Paul Vl, forewarned of the "technologies that recoil on man." It may be helpful to read sections of this encyclical online; have teen review it also. 

Our Stairway to Heaven - 23 - Discuss this at the conclusion of the program - Chapter Ten.

Abortion Information - 24 - Background information when discussing  Chapter Six.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Question on parent handout regarding disinterested service

A parent recently asked me to clarify the meaning of the term disinterested service with regard to the duties of parents found in Handout 1:b:  

"Create a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and disinterested service are the rule. In other words, we are to foster loving environments in which our children can flourish and in which there is no partiality. It is the environment by which parents look out for the common good of all members of the family." CCC 2223

The first thought that probably strikes most readers is - this must be wrong! Why would the Catechism teach parents that it is acceptable to show disinterested service when parenting? For most of us, the term disinterest means lack of interest. But that is not that only meaning of the word: disinterested. This term can mean any of the following (according to the Random House Dictionary)
  • not influenced by selfish movtives
  • unbiased by personal interest or advantage
  • not interested; indifferent
We can say confidently, that the authors of the Catholic Catechism did not mean the latter definition for disinterested service. Rather they teach parents to create a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and sacrificial (unselfish) service are the rule. We ought to parent without asking what's in it for me in other words!