No Regrets – 10 Ways to Make Time for Your Children

September 19, 2014 under Syllabus 2014-2015

Summary

Live every day if it were your last! How do you as a Father balance your faith, family and work in this hurried world, every day? Learn how Father’s just like you are living a daily life of no regrets: making more memories with their family, deepening their faith and coming home from work on time!

Objective

Help the Fathers to understand “How to Live a life of no regrets with your family” by learning how to spend more time with their children and family. It is suggested for the presenting small group, to focus the larger group time by sharing your team’s personal “live a life of no regrets” experiences/examples on how you each have made a “step change” in your life to spend more time with family and your children.

Bible Readings

1. Psalm 112

“His children will be mighty in the land”

2. Romans 8:28

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2223

“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them.”

Small Group Questions

1. Do you regularly come home on time from work to your family and children?

2. Are your children’s birthdays, recitals, soccer games, plays, etc. on your work calendar?

3. Do you schedule breakfast dates with your daughter/son?

Recommended Resources

1. Robert Rogers – http://www.mightyintheland.com

2. Mary Beth Bonacci – Catholic Herald – Living Life with “no regrets” http://www.catholicherald.com/stories/Living-with-no-regrets,12859?content_source=&category_id=13&search_filter=&event_mode=&event_ts_from=&list_type=&order_by=&order_sort=&content_class=&sub_type=stories&town_id=

Accountability

1. This week would be a good time to define “what is quality time with your family?”

2. Have you allowed any person or circumstance at work to rob you of your joy? Why?

3. Have you done your 100% best with your family, faith and job this week?

Author(s)

Reid Rooney / Kevin McDonough

Included Resources

Robert Rogers: 10 ways to live a life with no regrets with your family.

1. Sign-up for some organized activity together-chess club, a sports league, church groups, and so on as your free time activity that way, you can use the structure of the activity to help you spend time with your child.

2. Put birthdays, a recital, soccer games, plays, etc. on your work calendar. Tell co-workers that you wouldn’t miss those events for the world, and ask them to help remind you.

3. Create regular rituals to connect with your kids with phone calls from the office, special “daddy” time when you walk in the door, or other weekly events that keep you in touch.

4. Discuss your priorities with your boss. Be candid with him or her about times when you need to flex your schedule for family events. Make it clear that you are dedicated to doing your best at work, but that family is also very important to you. Suggest your own “win-win” solutions or ask for his ideas to help reach a workable balance.

5. Create a “Next Year’s Vacation” planning session with your children by having them share with your pictures/places of where they want to go and how they want to spend time with Dad on vacation!

6. Create a family devotional time. This is a time set aside during a time where all members of the family are required to be there. Then you as a father take the lead in sharing important things with your family. Read passages in Holy Scripture and pray together; share thoughts on certain historical events (Memorial Day) and what they should mean to us; talk about current events; peer pressure the kids are facing or how to look forward to an uncertain future with confidence.

7. As the Father, make the weekend Saturday or Sunday breakfast and have your kids help out as appropriate. Talk as you all prepare the meal about what was their “favorite thing” that happened in their life during the week.

8. Car Time. When traveling to the next sporting or activity event, instead of listening to the radio, try spending time with your kids by discussing with them: 1) What was the best part of today?; 2) What was your favorite thing that happened to you this week; 3) Tell me about something really cool that you saw today/this week?

9. Have a Breakfast time with Daddy with your children individually. No agenda’s just go out to breakfast and spend time with your child 1 on 1. Do you know their favorite song, favorite teacher, who they think is the coolest kid @ school, who are the coolest parents, etc?

10. Support your company’s “Take your children to work day”. If your company does not have it, consider starting one. Many Cincinnati based companies like P&G, Kroger, and Macy’s have established “Take your children to work” programs.

10 tips to make more time with your Children

Parents and their children are spending less time interacting with each other. As a result, many children are getting less personal love and attention than their parents did. American Demographics reported that parents today spend roughly 40 percent less time with their children than did parents a generation ago. To help families stay connected, below is a list of helpful family time tips. Keep in mind, quantity and quality time is important when choosing activities. So build memories around exciting events by keeping your family time creative and enjoyable. Print out the following tips as daily reminders.

1. Eat together & listen to each other

Most children today don’t know the meaning of a family dinnertime. Yet the communication and unity built during this set-ting is integral to a healthy family life. Sharing a meal together allows the opportunity to talk about each other’s lives. This is a time for parents to listen, as well as to give advice and encouragement. Attentive listening conveys a message that a person is really interested in another. It also imparts a sense of worth and helps develop trust. Therefore, listening is a critical link in successful parenting.

2. Read often

It’s important for parents to read to their children. The latest research indicates that reading to your children cultivates an interest for knowledge and stimulates language development. It also increases their attention spans and helps them become more curious. Look for books that your child would enjoy reading. After reading, ask questions about the content.

3. Do chores together

Part of what goes on in the home is the development of teamwork. Functional family life depends on the contribution of everyone. Assigning chores is the most productive way of teaching responsibility and accountability to your children. Doing chores with your child will help foster good communication skills.

4. Help with schoolwork

A great way to spend quality time with children and light a fire of learning is to help children with their schoolwork. A parent’s eagerness to help will cause a child to become more interested in school thus improving his or her grades. Regular trips to the library for school projects are an inexpensive and enjoyable way to spend time with children. Helping should begin with an understanding that children are responsible for homework. Parents are there to help their child get organized and to encourage them when they get stuck.

5. Start a hobby or project

Choose a fun activity that your child is interested in. Activities like cooking, crafts, fishing or biking will make great hobbies that can open the door to exciting family time. Once a child learns a new recipe or is able to cast a lure accurately, let him or her take the lead with your supervision.

6. Play games

New technology has made video games more prevalent. As a result, many children are spending long hours in front of the TV playing computer programs. Parents should find creative ways to spark an interest in family-oriented contests such as board games or card games. This will give parents additional time to talk and nurture their relationship.

7. Plan a family outing

Sometimes getting out of the house is important. Hop in the family car and go for a drive. Prepare a picnic lunch and visit a local park. Take time to play catch or ride a bike. A stroll in the woods will help parents interact with their children. Also, a visit to the zoo or museum will spark a child’s enthusiasm and lead to lengthy discussions.

8. Encourage athletic activities

It is vital for children to exercise. Sports not only strengthen the body, but also build character and determination. Whether it’s a father pitching a baseball to a son or a mother and daughter nature walking, finding time for athletic events is important for a child’s emotional and physical development. This is a great opportunity for a family to interact.

9. Create a Family Time calendar

Since many parents have hectic schedules, time with children often becomes a low priority whether intended or not. Post a calendar on the refrigerator and have parents and children pencil in special events. Knowing when you’re going to meet may also help you think of creative activities. Commit to keeping this schedule free from interruptions.

10. Pray together & attend a house of worship

Nothing is more special than taking a few minutes each day to pray with a child before bedtime. By explaining the purpose behind prayer, children will learn the importance of faith as the foundation for the family. Also, when parents go to religious services, they instill in their children a reverence for God.

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Child-Centric Parenting (or is it Helicopter Parenting?)

September 5, 2014 under Syllabus 2014-2015

Summary

As a parent, you want what is best for your child. We may not be able to choose our children’s friends but if we make sure they are being surrounding by the “right” crowd, are we helicopter parents? And if so, is that a bad thing?

Objective

For nearly 150 years, the Church has unequivocally taught that parents have the right and responsibility

to serve as the primary educators of their children. In addition, parents are also the ultimate protectors of their children. Finally, the Church also teaches that parents are responsible for evangelizing their children.

Worrying and fretting about your children come with the job and can prompt needed action. Some parents, however, “over worry” and become “helicopter parents,” hovering over their children. As parents we are responsible for the process we use in raising our children- not the outcome. When all else fails (and hopefully before) turn it over to God. From their own experience, parents recognize that friends can have such a powerful influence over their kids – for good or for bad.  Because of that influence, some parents enter into the trap of trying to control who their kids can have as friends. 

Helicopter parenting refers to a style of parents who are over focused on their children. Often called over parenting, it is most often applied to parents of high school or college-aged students.

Some studies show that “helicopter parents” derived more happiness and meaning from parenthood that those who were less involved. A different term to describe these parents might be “child-centric”.

Even though parents may not effectively be able to control who their kids choose as friends, parents do have a lot of influence over building good relationships with their children’s friends (even the scary ones).  As parents show confidence in their children’s ability to make good choices in friends, and then bring their friends within the arms of the family, parents can have a great deal of influence over the relationships and situations in which their kids get involved.

Bible Readings

1. Luke Chapter 18, Verse 16

Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

2. Colossians Chapter 3, verse 20

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord.

3. 1 John Chapter 5, Verse 21

Children, be on your guard against idols.

Catechism Readings

1. 2223

Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.”31 Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:

He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him.32

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.33

2. 2224

The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.

3. 2225

Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the “first heralds” for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church.34 A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one’s life.

4. 2226

Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God.35 The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.

5. 2227

Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents.36 Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it.37

6. 2228

Parents’ respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs. As the children grow up, the same respect and devotion lead parents to educate them in the right use of their reason and freedom.

7. 2229

As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators.38 Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise.

Small Group Questions

1. Define a Helicopter Parent

2. Define an effective parent

3. Is one better than the other?

4. When do you cross over from being a responsible parent to a helicopter parent

5. Do you think this is good for the child or the parent?

6. Do you know a helicopter parent?

Recommended Resources

1. “What is Helicopter Parenting?” www.parents.com/parents

2. “ ‘Helicopter parents’ have more meaningful lives, study finds” www.telegraph.co.uk/health

3. www.virtus.org

Accountability

1. Have a discussion with your wife about being a helicopter parent

2. Challenge whether you are being child-centric or a helicopter parent

Author(s)

Chris Bergman

Additional Resources

Helicopter parenting refers to a style of parents who are over focused on their children. Often called over parenting, it is most often applied to parents of high school or college-aged students.

Some studies show that “helicopter parents” derived more happiness and meaning from parenthood that those who were less involved. A different term to describe these parents might be “child-centric”.

Here are some tips that parents can consider if they feel their kids are starting to make “the wrong kind of friends”:

Parents can refrain from calling their kids’ friends “bad.”  Since most people are not all bad, parents tend to lose credibility with their kids by calling their child’s friend “bad,” especially if that friend has ever done anything good for their kid.

Parents can ask their kids what they like about that specific friend.  Not only will this show their child that they are interested in him or her and in their friends, but it will also give the parent information about what need the relationship with that friend is fulfilling for their child.  Then parents might do things in order to help see that that need gets met in positive ways.  Open, and non-judgmental, communication with kids about their friends can strengthen parent-child relationships and provide support for their kids as their kids learn to take responsibility for their own choices.

Parents can send messages to their kids that show confidence and leadership by saying things like, “That kid looks like he could use some good friends.  I hope a lot of you rubs off on him.  He is lucky to have a friend like you.  I think it would be helpful if I got to know him; why don’t you bring him around the house more.”

Finally, parents can wrap their arms around the concerning kid and help that kid feel included and a sense of belonging.  Many of the kids who concern parents may not come from stable homes or feel a sense of belonging or connectedness.  Healthy adults have a great opportunity to reach out to these kids and help them feel that they do matter and they do belong.  They can do so by inviting these kids to participate in family events or by simply inviting them to eat with the family.  Good food can have a powerful and comforting effect on kids who lack stability.

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Strategies for Keeping Your Kids or Grandkids Catholic

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

A child’s faith trajectory is fairly established by the time they reach 14 years of age. Young adults are considered one of the most un-churched generations. The challenge is to help young people experience Catholicism as fulfilling their spiritual hunger. What can we do to help our children and grandchildren nurture and remain active in their faith?

Objective

Children tend to follow the faith of their parents. Roman Catholic families have traditionally had a passive approach to educating their children about the Catholic faith, delegating the responsibility of teaching our faith to others (teachers, schools, priests, nuns, etc.). As Fathers, we have a critical role in establishing the importance of faith in our families. Our children look to us for guidance. We have a narrow window of time to influence their beliefs and establish the faith as an important part of their lives. The powerful memories that we give our kids will sustain them and give them roots, when temptations of the world challenge them. Research has consistently shown that the chosen path of Faith by Adult Children is more impacted by Fathers than Mothers (even very devout Mothers). As Leaders of our Families, Fathers must lead by the example of “living our Faith” and teaching our children/grandchildren the Truths revealed by Jesus in the Bible and in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Bible Readings

1. Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

2. Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

3. Matthew 19:13-14

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2223

“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them.”

2. Paragraph 2228

“Parents’ respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs. As the children grow up, the same respect and devotion lead parents to educate them in the right use of their reason and freedom.”

Small Group Questions

1. What type of spiritual example are you setting for your children?

2. Do you pray with your kids? (ie, evening meal or bedtime) Do you look for opportunities to pray the Rosary with them. (ie, on a routine basis like once each week or in the car on the way to a fun activity or after a death in the Family or to thank God for something good in the Family or when they are grounded or punished, etc)

3. What events/things do you do with your kids to put faith in action?

4. Do you use the Bible and/or Catechism to teach the Catholic Faith (ie, about the Mass and the Holy Eucharist or about morality or current social issues, etc)

5. Do you focus unique Catholic teachings that separate us from other Christians? (ie, the Holy Eucharist, the Mass, Sacrament of Reconciliation, moral teachings that are counter-cultural like marriage or contraception, the Virgin Mary, teachings on salvation, Sacred Tradition, Papal Authority, the Saints, etc)

6. Can you explain how Jesus founded the Catholic Church and all other Christian Churches were founded by another human being?

Recommended Resources

1. “8 Strategies for Keeping Your Kids Catholic”, by Robert McCarty, 2008 Liguori Publications (Most of pamphlet included below)

2. Strong Catholic Families, Strong Catholic Youth by Michael Theisen (National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry):

http://www.diojeffcity.org/Ministries/ChristianEd/ReligiousEd/Strong%20Catholic%20Families/A2FamilyFaithResourceBookBWrevised.pdf

3. “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers”, by Christian Smith and Melina Lundquist Denton, 2009

4. “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults”, by Christian Smith and Patricia Snell, 2009

5. http://www.catholic.com which is an excellent resource to answer Catholic questions and to find Biblical and Catechism references (ie, great search engine)

Accountability

1. Set a positive image and be your child’s spiritual example.

2. Review the 8 strategies with your wife and look for ways to be engaged with your kids regarding putting the faith in action.

3. Conversation starters about faith and religion you can use with you kids:

a. Do you understand the Church’s teachings on the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and do you know what the Bible says about this Sacrament? How much of this is just accepting what Jesus says about the Holy Eucharist? Can you accept this teaching because “Jesus says so” or must this be proven scientifically before you can accept this teaching? Are there other things that you accept as true without scientific testing?

b. How and why do you pray? What kind of relationship do you have with God?

c. Why do you love Jesus?

d. What is sin and why is avoiding sin important? Can you name sins that are common in our society? Do the 10 Commandments apply to today’s world?

e. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is going to Mass on Sunday for you? What makes it that number?

f. Have you ever had an experience where your faith was really tested?

g. Have you ever had an experience where your faith has really helped you?

h. Who do you consider to be a genuine person of faith?

i. What church teaching most confuses you?

j. How is your faith different now from when you were younger?

k. What experiences, places, or persons have really fostered your growth in faith?

l. Should we conform to what God has revealed through the Bible and His Church or should we pick and choose what we like best? Why?

Author(s): Michael Copfer and Ken Mai (amended by George Cullen)

Included Resources

8 Strategies for Keeping Your Kids Catholic, by Robert McCarty, 2008 Liguori Publications

1. Practice and Participate:

Contrary to popular opinion, the Number 1 influence in the faith life of young people is the faith life of their parents. Young people really do mirror the faith life of their parents, so the way we practice our religion is very important. Our participation is Sunday Mass and other special liturgical celebrations, as well as our active involvement in the life of the parish, shows our children that our religion is a significant part of our lives. In addition to Mass attendance, we can participate in retreats, Bible study groups, church organizations and ministries, or adult catechesis sessions.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, invite them to go with you – even if it’s just on a special holy day or anniversary. They may decline, but your invitation will remind them that Mass is a meaningful part of your life and that you wish to share your faith with them.

2. Model Our Faith:

In addition to worshiping with our children, we can have a great impact on the faith of young people when our faith guides our daily routines and interactions. Faith should influence our lifestyle choices, use of time, how we handle conflicts, the relationships we form, and even how we handle work issues. It may sound trite, but the two most obvious challenges to the practice of faith in real life are how adults drive their cars and how they behave at sports events! Our spontaneous reactions in emotional situations can reveal to others whether our faith and values influence our behavior.

So we might ask ourselves: Do we pray at home in the evening? Before family meals? In restaurants? Do we remember people who are less fortunate in our prayers? Do we pray for our children’s intentions? For their friends? Do we model forgiveness and reconciliation in our lives by admitting when we are wrong and forgiving others who hurt us? How do we handle crises such as death, divorce and illnesses? Does our faith impact how we celebrate Christmas, Easter, or other holy days? Do we volunteer our time and talent to ant service organizations or civic programs? All of these situations are part of life. Our young people watch to see if faith makes sense to us, if faith works for us. They are looking for a faith that provides meaning in all areas of their life, not just on Sundays.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass on Sunday, model your Catholicism at all times and in all settings.

3. Include Young Adults:

What a blessing it would be if all our young people were greeted by name when they walked through the church doors! We begin to meet their hunger for connection by welcoming them on Sunday and fostering their participation in the faith community. A sense of belonging is a very strong bond.

These experiences begin with the parish young adult ministry program. Young adults need to gather with their peers right in their own church. They need opportunities to build community with their peers, to feel connected with other faith-filled persons, and to interact with caring, believing adults. Parents should encourage their young adult’s participation in appropriate parish activities Parishes must be intentional in including young adults in their liturgical, pastoral, and leadership ministries. We can’t wait until young people ask or volunteer: we must actively invite them into responsible participation in the life, work and mission of the faith community.

Of course, the experience of community goes beyond the local Church. Gathering with other young adults through national groups such as Theology on Tap or at diocesan or international events like World Youth Day will give them a sense of belonging to something bigger. One of the main benefits of these events is that participants connect with their peers from other regions and cultures. It helps bring home the truth that they are part of an important and inclusive global community.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, help them experience their membership in the greater Catholic family. Encourage them to be involved in liturgical ministries and invite them to be leaders in parish programs.

4. Doing Faith:

One of the most important characteristics of the spirituality of young adults is their need to “do faith.” Actions inspired by faith are powerful experiences. Perhaps the most profound experience of doing faith is involvement in justice and service projects. Serving in soup kitchens, participating in a work camp, working in a community shelter program or emergency-outreach center, tutoring children, or participating in public events for justice can have a significant impact on the faith of young adults and respond to their hunger for justice.

Similarly, young people “do faith” when they participate in retreats, pilgrimages, or public Stations of the Cross. These can be moving experiences of faith in action, too. All of these experiences are even more powerful when young adults and their parents participate in events together.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, encourage them to “do faith” through their participation in service to the community, in parish ministries and in special liturgical events.

5. Learning Opportunities:

Young adults do need to know the traditions, creed, teachings and stories of our faith community. They need to know the story of Jesus and the gospel message. Many are genuinely interested in reading and understanding Scripture. They need to know to know what it means to be Catholic, and they want to learn how to participate in the rituals and worship of the Church. The faith community needs to be a safe place where young adults can bring their questions and where they can search with others for answers that make sense, meet their needs and provide meaning and purpose in their lives.

Further, our young people need to know about that unique dimension of our faith often described as our Catholic “imagination.” Catholics “see” the world differently. Through our sacramental lens, we encounter a world filled with God’s presence. Our traditional practices, our use of images, our symbols, and our rituals provide an avenue to an encounter with an imminent, loving God.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, find opportunities for them to learn more about their faith through Bible study, faith-sharing groups, or other diocesan programs-and offer to go with them!

6. Prayer Skills:

Young adults need both personal and communal experiences of prayer. They can be creative and enthusiastic when they are invited to compose original prayers or spiritual poems that incorporate their favorite music and symbols. Often they are very open to traditional contemplative Catholic approaches to prayer, such as the Ignatian exercises, which enable them to connect with Spirit within.

They should also be encouraged to participate with the faith community in worship experiences, sharing in the Catholic community’s understanding of God, our traditions, our unique rituals and our ways of prayer. This “both/and” approach to the personal and communal dimension fosters their experience of prayer as the outpouring of their relationship with God and deepens their faith.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, talk with them about personal prayer and the value of praying together at Mass.

7. Faith Sharing:

As young adults search for a personal understanding of God, they must be able and encouraged to look for God’s presence in their lived experiences. Young adults should be assisted in naming their experience of a God who is active and present in their lives. God does not wait to be invited into the lives of young people. God takes the initiative and is present, but God waits to be identified or named. Many young adults need language to help them understand and express their experiences of God.

Parents and other caring, faith-filled adults can assist young adults in identifying God’s presence in their joys and sorrows, in their hopes and dreams and in their day-to-day lives. Of course, this requires that we have the language to name the presence of God in our own lives. We can ask our young adults where they experience God, where they pray best, where they feel joy and sorrow, for God is present there. And we can share our own experiences.

This faith sharing is a very important task because young people will never understand the Hebrew-Christian Scriptures until they can read the Scriptures of their own lives. Therein young adults experience the God who is always active and resent. And we should be open to having our own understanding of God challenged and perhaps deepened by our young adults’ experience of God.

If you want young adults to go to Mass, ask them questions about their faith life.

8. Compelling Adventure:

At the heart of their spiritual hunger is the desire of young adults for a compelling vision of life that provides a genuine sense of meaning and purpose-a noble adventure worthy of their commitment. The Catholic Church inherited the noble adventure and compelling mission of Jesus Christ-to build the reign of god-to make the world better for all people.

Participation in this spiritual adventure requires a community of companions also committed to thus mission-that is, the Church. There is also a need to celebrate this adventure regularly-that is, at Mass. At its best, liturgy is a spiritual drama that tells the story of Jesus and connects that story with building the reign here and now.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, call them to a compelling adventure worthy of their lives.

Children: Respect & Discipline

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

Excerpted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy “…the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1785, 1788, 1797) … Indeed, most contemporary discussions of respect for persons explicitly claim to rely on, develop, or challenge some aspect of Kant’s ethics. Central to Kant’s ethical theory is the claim that all persons are owed respect just because they are persons, that is, free rational beings. To be a person is to have a status and worth that is unlike that of any other kind of being: it is to be an end in itself with dignity. And the only response that is appropriate to such a being is respect. Respect (that is, moral recognition respect) is the acknowledgment in attitude and conduct of the dignity of persons as ends in themselves. Respect for such beings is not only appropriate but also morally and unconditionally required: the status and worth of person is such that they must always be respected.”

Emmanuel Kant, the eighteenth century philosopher sounds quite Catholic in his views. Of course neither did he give, nor should we expect any modern day philosopher to, credit Jesus Christ who over 2000 years prior taught us of the dignity of and our responsibility to respect the human person. Why is it today that respect seems to be an endangered act or concept? The respect for and dignity of human life is no longer universally accepted but subject to personal whims, circumstances and opinion. Respect for the elderly is becoming a public debate issue. The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is respected and believed by only 30% of self-described Catholics. Police officers, the justice system, and authority in general is often disrespected in today’s society. And parents and grandparents many times are not given due respect, whether in a specific instance or more generally, by their children and/or grandchildren.

Objective

God gave each of us the unique gifts of free will and of reason. Thus we have the freedom to choose good or evil, right or wrong, and wise or unwise, and respect or dis-respect. Thus, disciplining our children is the process or act of “educating them in the right use of their reason and freedom” as said so elegantly in Catechism paragraph 2228. And so the question is, how do we educate and/or discipline our children first to respect and then to obey out of respect for our requests of them? And/or, if you already have some issue where your children/grandchildren do not appropriately respect you or your wife or another family member, what are some strategies to change or modify their understanding and their respect?

NOTE: In 2012/2013 the topic regarding Disciplining Your Children focused on methods of discipline used by men and their families in the Fathers Team. For 2013/2014 we re-use this topic and change the perspective from discipline methodologies to the perspective of discipline within the context of respect as discussed in the Catechism teachings that accompany this topic.

Bible Readings

1. Matthew 21; 28-32 – The Parable of the Two Sons.*

“What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. ‘Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. ‘When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.’

2. Hebrews 12 7-11

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2214

The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood; this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents. The respect of children, whether minors or adults, for their father and mother is nourished by the natural affection born of the bond uniting them. It is required by God’s commandment.

2. Paragraph 2215

Respect for parents (filial piety) derives from gratitude toward those who, by the gift of life, their love and their work, have brought their children into the world and enabled them to grow in stature, wisdom, and grace. “With all your heart honor your father, and do not forget the birth pangs of your mother. Remember that through your parents you were born; what can you give back to them that equals their gift to you?”

3. Paragraph 2216

Filial respect is shown by true docility and obedience. “My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. . . . When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.” “A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”

4. Paragraph 2228

Parents’ respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs. As the children grow up, the same respect and devotion lead parents to educate them in the right use of their reason and freedom.

Small Group Questions

1. Is there anything you can take home and use for child discipline in your family?

2. Have we strayed too far from common sense discipline to the new age – ‘let the child express themselves’ approach? Are we letting kids grow up without realistic boundaries?

3. How do you and your wife do in agreeing (ahead of time) on discipline approaches for the kids?

4. How does discipline change from toddler – to adolescent – to teenager?

5. Is positive discipline a possibility with a large family? Is it unrealistic?

Recommended Resources

All resources were found by internet searching and are not necessarily Catholic sources and/or may not necessarily conform to Catholic teachings.

1. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/respect/

2. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201001/parenting-respect-starts-home

3. http://parenting.org/article/respect-0

4. http://www.catholic.net/index.php?option=dedestaca&id=479&grupo=Life++Family&canal=Family

5. http://daniellesteel.net/blog/2011/01/a-big-subject-mutual-respect-between-parents-and-adult-kids/

Accountability

1. Consider discussing an aspect of your relationship with your children where there has been in the past or where there is currently an issue with their respect toward you, your wife or toward another family member. What did you do about it and what was the outcome?

2. What will you and your wife do differently in the future to better transmit the importance of respect from your children or grandchildren?

Author(s)

Reid Rooney, updated 8/16/2013 by Andrew Schmitt

How do you go from being a parent to a mentor with your adult children?

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

 

Summary

As our children get older, our interaction with them changes. No longer can our values and ideas be imprinted on them by virtue of being the parent. Can you remember when you left home? When you spread your wings? How did your parents react to you? As children age, they bring their own mindsets to the family relationship, life in general and beyond. This can be especially difficult if their values, ideas and mores tend be different, sometimes substantially different than yours. It may something as simple as moving out and leaving the area or as significant as having members of the opposite sex other moving in with the now adult child, to variation in life styles.

Objective

Typically, as a child moves into adulthood, their ideas and ways of doing things can and usually are substantially different than yours. As our children age, like we age, they change, like we change. It seems that a parent often moves more from the guiding hand on the shoulder to the dispenser of wisdom and information as to how the world really works. All too often, in trying to understand the adult child’s mentality and life, there can be alienation between the parent and the offspring. It is almost as if there is resentment for bringing up your values.

The challenge is how to still be a parent, with all of our values, and still be a mentor, parent and sometimes even a friend to your child when their values are different, sometimes dramatically different than yours. As parents, we have developed our value system over a period of time, and our now grown children, especially those out of college are starting to develop theirs.

There is an old joke about a young man talking about his father and remarking to a friend that when he was in high school, he thought his father might have been dumber than a box of rocks, but when the young man graduated from college, he was amazed at how much his father had learned. There may be a lot of truth in that old “saw”. From the sometimes rebellious years of high school, to the realization that a child has a vast amount of unlearned information, this seems like a good time to focus on what your values are. The most important thing is to let your adult child know that you are there for them and although you may disagree with some of the things they do, you are always the parent.

Bible Readings

1. Tobit 4: 5-6

Through all the days my son, keep the LORD in mind, and suppress every desire to sin or to break his commandments. Perform good works all the days of your life, and do not tread the paths of wrong doing. For if you are steadfast in your service, your good works will bring success, not only to you, but also to those who live uprightly.

2. Ephesians 6: 1- 4

Children, obey your parents [in the Lord], for this is right.a “Honor your father and mother.”b This is the first commandment with a promise, “that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord.c

V. Conclusion

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2199

The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it.

This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons.

2. Paragraph 2208   

The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”12

Small Group Questions

1. Think back to a mentor that was helpful to you? Did he/she tell you what to do or listen and let you talk?

2. Do you model the type of behavior that you would like your children to have as they become older?

3. Do you have any family members that mentored you as you aged?

4. If your father is alive, how is your relation with him?

5. Could you talk to your father when you were young? How about now?

6. What do you wish you knew when you were younger that you know now? Can you give your children that information?

Recommended Resources

1. Life’s Little Instruction Book, H. Jackson Brown, 500+ suggestions, observations and reminders on how to live a happy and rewarding life.

Accountability

1. This week would be a good time to start to talk to your child about life and responsibilities

Author(s)

Original: Jack Gauche/Bob Considine; Updated: Rich DelCore

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Empty Nesting – How do you deal with the children moving on?

August 22, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Have your children all gone off to college or moved away for a new career? Perhaps you’re a stay at home parent and you’re sending your last one off to all day school. Changes to the household can be a big change for a parent. You may be spending more time with just the two of you, or have a lot of time alone. How do you prepare yourself for these life changes?

Objective

A lot of the older fathers on the team have experienced or will soon experience an empty house from children going off to college or moving away for work. This can present some wonderful opportunities for you and your wife to get closer. It can also present an awkward silence in the house, bored spouse, and conflict. How do you prepare yourself for a different life-style when you’re so used to being a parent and all that it entails when children are around?

Fathers team has a lot of younger fathers as well, who may be bored by a session dominated by older fathers talking about something they’re far from relating to. However, younger fathers can experience the same issues when all of the children are finally off to school and a stay at home parent is alone for much of the day. Sometimes that’s a blessing! Sometimes that can present a change for one of the parents that we have to deal with.

Use this session to discuss both “empty nesting” and major changes at home related to these life changes.

Bible Readings

1. Matthew 19:13-15

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

2. Matthew 19:23-30

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

3. Mark 10:6-9

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2223

Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.”31 Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:

He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him.32

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.33

2. Paragraph 2230

When they become adults, children have the right and duty to choose their profession and state of life. They should assume their new responsibilities within a trusting relationship with their parents, willingly asking and receiving their advice and counsel. Parents should be careful not to exert pressure on their children either in the choice of a profession or in that of a spouse. This necessary restraint does not prevent them – quite the contrary from giving their children judicious advice, particularly when they are planning to start a family.

Small Group Questions

  1. Have you experienced an empty nest from children going off to college or moving away? How did you deal with it? Was it a positive or negative experience?
  2. Are you in touch with your wife enough to deal with family changes?
  3. Have you experience the last child off to all day school and the changes that brings?
  4. Are there other major changes in your family life that have led to you and your wife needing to adapt and grow?

Accountability

  1. If you have older children, start thinking about how you and your wife will deal with the changes.
  2. If you have a stay at home parent, how can you prepare for the last child off to all day school?

Author(s)

Dan Lape

Included Resources

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/empty-nest-syndrome/MY01976/

Empty nest syndrome: Tips for coping

If your last child is all grown up and about to leave home — or he or she has already moved out — you might be experiencing some mixed emotions. Understand why empty nest syndrome happens and what you can do about it.

What’s empty nest syndrome and why do some parents experience it?

Empty nest syndrome isn’t a clinical diagnosis. Instead, empty nest syndrome is a phenomenon in which parents experience feelings of sadness and loss when the last child leaves home.

Although you might actively encourage your children to become independent, the experience of letting go can be painful. You might find it difficult to suddenly have no children at home who need your care. You might miss being a part of your children’s daily lives — as well as the constant companionship. You might also worry intensely about your children’s safety and whether they’ll be able to take care of themselves on their own. You might struggle with the transition if your last child leaves the nest a little earlier or later than you expected — or at a time different from when you did. If you have only one child or strongly identify with your role as parent, you might have a particularly difficult time adjusting to an empty nest.

What’s the impact of empty nest syndrome?

In the past, research suggested that parents dealing with empty nest syndrome experienced a profound sense of loss that might make them vulnerable to depression, alcoholism, identity crisis and marital conflicts.

However, recent studies suggest that an empty nest can also provide parents with many benefits. When the last child leaves home, parents have a new opportunity to reconnect with each other, improve the quality of their marriage and rekindle interests for which they previously might not have had time.

How can I cope with empty nest syndrome?

If you’re experiencing feelings of loss due to empty nest syndrome, take action. For example:

Accept the timing. Avoid comparing your child’s timetable to your own personal experience. Instead, focus on what you can do to help your child succeed when he or she does leave home.Keep in touch. You can continue to be close to your children even when you live apart. Make an effort to maintain regular contact through visits, phone calls, emails, texts or video chats. Seek support. If you’re having a difficult time dealing with an empty nest, lean on loved ones and other close contacts for support. Share your feelings. If you feel depressed, consult your doctor or a mental health provider. Stay positive. Thinking about the extra time and energy you might have to devote to your marriage or personal interests after your last child leaves home might help you adapt to this major life change.Can I prevent empty nest syndrome?

If your last child is about to leave home and you’re worried about empty nest syndrome, plan ahead. Look for new opportunities in your personal and professional life. Keeping busy or taking on new challenges at work or at home can help ease the sense of loss that your child’s departure might cause.

http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/wiley031/00009169.pdf

RESURVEYING EMPTY NEST ISSUES

Issues and problems in marriage cause you neither success nor failure; it’s how you deal with them that makes a difference, especially in the empty nest. When you are no longer meeting the demands of active parenting, issues will resurface and perhaps loom larger on the landscape of your marriage. So what are those major issues you’ll take with you into the empty nest?

Consider the top ten issues in an empty nest survey taken, number one being the most severe problem area, number two, the next most severe problem, and so on:

Top Issues in the Empty Nest Years

1. Conflict

2. Communication

3. Sex

4. Health

5. Fun

6. Recreation

7. Money

8. Aging parents

9. Retirement planning

10. Children

The top three issues in the empty nest-conflict, communication, and sex-are also among the major problem areas for younger couples. People take their issues along as they transition through the different seasons of a marriage. We observed no overall gender differences that were very strong. However, females tended to say communication was more of a problem than did males, and males tended to say that sex was more of a problem than females reported. (Are you surprised?)

At this stage of life, money issues are not rated as high as for younger couples, but health issues are rated higher. The fact that fun and recreation are rated so high indicates that perhaps couples are having trouble figuring out what to do together that’s enjoyable for both or finding fun things that both will take time out for. For years their shared recreational activities may have been centered around their children, and now they don’t know what to do to have fun together.

How would you rank these issues in your marriage? Think about your relationship: with which issues do you struggle the most?

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Teaching your Children the importance of God, Family and Friends

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Do we take it for granted that our children will know the importance of God, family, and friends? One of the most important things we can do in life is to make sure our children understand how important this is as well as what it takes to continue to grow in the faith.

Objective

It is our duty as Fathers to uphold the teaching regarding the importance of God to our families. We do this by loving example and at times needed discipline. We are called to lead our families to Christ and to nurture the process along the way. The focus on the importance of God will transcend in the decision making of how our children choose the friends in their lives as well.

We can get help with this by following Seven Lessons Fathers Should Teach Their Children by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff (see resources)

  1. Teach by Word and Deed
  2. Be a Family of Prayer
  3. Make the Home a Place of Peace, Hope and Love
  4. Live Simply, Give Generously, Be Present
  5. Teach Your Children the Faith
  6. Live the Sacramental and Liturgical Life
  7. Get to know St. Joseph

Bible Readings

1. Genesis 18:19  

For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

2. Proverbs 22:6 

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

3. Isaiah 54:13 

All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

4. 1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

5. Ephesians 4:29-32

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2223

“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children…

2. Paragraph 1655

“Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than ‘the family of God.’ From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers ‘together with all [their] household.

3. Paragraph 1656

“In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica [Domestic Church]. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are ‘by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.’”

Recommended Resources

  1. How to teach your children about God
    http://www.ehow.com/how_6083735_teach-children-god.html
  2. Bible Verses About Children- 25 Inspirational Scripture Quotes
    http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-children-25-inspirational-scripture-quotes/

Accountability

  1. Really look at the weekend and the week ahead in a different light. Pray that Christ reveals to you the miracles of every day. Ask for his help and to help other in his name.
  2. Report back to your group next week and discuss what you saw.

Author(s)

David Karsten

Included Resources

1. Seven Lessons Fathers Should Teach Their Children
http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2012/06/deacon-bickerstaff-lessons-of-our-fathers/

Who Introduced You to the Lord?

The first question I would like to pose, is simply this: “How did you come by your faith, whether it be weak or strong, new or old? Where and when did you first come to encounter Jesus and his glorious Gospel?” For many of us, the answer would be, “I first came to know Jesus in my home, from my father and mother.” This is not the case for everyone, but, it is the general plan of God that our first witnesses and teachers of the faith are our parents who share the good news of salvation with their children. For this reason, the family is referred to as the Domestic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches of the role of the family.

CCC 1655 – “Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than ‘the family of God.’ From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers ‘together with all [their] household.’ (Cf. Acts 18:8) When they were converted, they desired that ‘their whole household’ should also be saved. (Cf. Acts 16:31; Acts 11:14) These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.”

It was no accident, rather, it was the will of God that Jesus Christ was conceived of woman and born into a family where he was lovingly raised and received experiential knowledge as he matured from infancy to adulthood. Everything Jesus received from that family experience is an example for us to follow. Nothing of his life is to be neglected by us as if it were irrelevant to our lives. The same is true of every word written in Sacred Scripture.

What You Should Desire for Your Children Above All Else?

So then, this is the second question, “Just how deeply do we parents desire that our children, along with ourselves, should also be saved?” You see, each Christian is called to be “salt” of this earth where too many things have soured and a “light” in a world too often filled with darkness. Note what the catechsim says above, “These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.” Such is the both the dignity and obligation of Christians, to become witnesses to an unbelieving world and to form families; domestic churches that are islands of Christian life.

Our vocation is the path by which we journey to Heaven. God has called each of us by name to Himself. In baptism we each received a share in the divine mission and a responsibility to be faithful to that mission. When a man and a woman answer God’s call to the vocation of marriage, they agree to live out this responsibility together as man and wife, and if blessed by children, then also together as father and mother. The obligation of their baptismal calling expands in a particular way to include the sanctity and salvation of their spouse and children.

CCC 1656 – “In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica [Domestic Church]. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are ‘by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.’”

I grew up in the 1950′s-1960′s. I raised my children in the 1980′s-2000′s. Without falling into a sense of false nostalgia, I believe I can say that in relative terms, my childhood took place in a much more simple and safe time compared to the time of my children. And today, the world has become even more complex and more “alien and even hostile to faith”. Therefore, the second question posed above is clearly one of great urgency and it is critical that we understand the obligations of our vocation.

CCC 1657 – “It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way ‘by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.’ Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and ‘a school for human enrichment.’ Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated – forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life.” (Cf. Mt 11:28)

When I recall my childhood, the specific occasions remembered are those times and events that, at the time, held special relevance to me. It is difficult to predict what an adult will one day remember of his childhood. But know this, children are like video recorders, capturing everything. One day, when the need arises, an adult will pull from his memory banks examples to serve him in time of need. Will these memories serve him well, leading him to life or will the wrong message and example be there, leading him to wrong and destructive choices? I was blessed with good and holy parents; I can only hope, now that my children are grown, that they are able to say the same about me.

Too often in our families, the handing on of the faith falls upon the shoulders of our mothers. And may God richly bless those holy women who have been faithful to the good God by introducing the faith to a new generation.

But, fathers, we must ask ourselves where we are in this most important of responsibilities entrusted to us by God. The witness to faith is not nearly so strong within the family if mother and father send mixed messages to their children.

What memories are we, as fathers, making for our children?

Seven Lessons Fathers Should Give their Children

This is not a comprehensive list, but I would like to share a few lessons I have learned as a child and a father that I believe are crucial. I encourage you to add to this list in the “combox” below.

1. Teach by Word and Deed

Do our words match our examples? You have heard it said that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. I would like to modify that. You can never, over time, fool your children even some of the time. Children seem to have a built-in detector for hypocrisy. Fathers, do you think that you can teach your children to love and honor their mother if you don’t love and honor her in both your words and actions? It’s not going to happen. Nor will you likely succeed in any area if your words and actions do not match. So, fathers, teach by word and deed.

Going to Mass, making a novena or praying a family rosary was never a chore for my mother. These were joyful expressions of her love for Jesus, His Blessed Mother and His Church. Even in later years as I struggled to maintain and grow my faith, the memory of the example given me by my mother served as an anchor keeping me from crashing against the rocks of the pagan culture of my college years. I may not have demonstrated that to her at the time, but it is true nonetheless. One thing I always knew – my mother was praying for me. And deep in my heart, I knew that my father who had died when I was 16 was praying for me too. He was not Catholic, but he supported my mother’s efforts at every step. At that time, I retained the sense of the importance of God because God was important to my parents. They taught me this by their deeds. And I could feel their prayers. Because they taught my sister this too, I knew she also was praying for me. My life and the example of my family has taught me to never discount the power of prayer.

2. Be a Family of Prayer

This leads me to the topic of prayer. One of the great errors of our time is the failure of the individual Christian to advance in the prayer life and of the family to pray together. We are never going to truly know God until we become people of deep prayer and our children are not going to learn from their parents how to pray until they see them in fervent, urgent, persistent, faithful, expectant prayer – praying alone, praying together as husband and wife, and praying together with the entire family. No, we are not going to always feel like praying. And the devil is going to throw up obstacles, making us feel like we have no time to pray. Nor will our children always want to pray. But we must be faithful to God in our efforts to pray. And in this, fathers should take an active and leading role.

First, fathers need to commit to their own prayer life and that means more than simply reciting vocal prayers. We must practice meditative prayer – the Church teaches that this expression of prayer is a neccessity for the beginner – pondering in our hearts the events in the life of Christ and His Holy Family, reflecting on the lives of the saints, praying the scriptures, and thinking about the persons of God and the truths entrusted to the Church.

Second, pious practices such as grace before and after meals, a morning offering, blessing ourselves when driving past a Church where Christ is sacramentally present, offering a “Hail Mary” when seeing an ambulance or firetruck speeding down the road, all serve also as teaching moments for our children.

Third, fathers should encourage the family to come together on a regular schedule to pray a family rosary. This is a great way to introduce your children to the practice of prayer. There are endless ways to practice prayer as a family.

My previous pastor told the story of how his vocation to the priesthood developed in spite of all the obstacles he encountered on the road to ordination. He has vivid memories of his family praying an evening rosary together daily. But he remembers something more. After all had turned in for the night, he would hear, and sometimes look into his parents bedroom to see his parents (father and mother) praying together at the end of the day when none of the children were watching. This told him that prayer for them was really important. Their example provided him the fortitude to answer his call.

3. Make the Home a Place of Peace, Hope and Love

Peace and concord in the family is so important, yet it seems to be under fire more than ever. We are told in Scripture to be of one mind, yet members of families today seem to each have their own life and wants. Especially in these difficult economic times, the tendency is to allow worry and anxiety to permeate the home. Do you bring the troubles of work home to fester within the home? Do your children think that your work is more important than they are?

Saint (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina wrote, “Don’t worry about tomorrow because the very same Heavenly Father who takes care of you today will have the same thought tomorrow and always. . . What does a child in the arms of such a Father have to fear? Be as children, who hardly ever think about their future as they have someone to think for them. They are sufficiently strong just by being with their father.” Make sure that the environment of the home provides this example for our children. Our children should be raised to believe, “Jesus, I Trust in You.”

4. Live Simply, Give Generously, Be Present

Love, honor and respect for one another in the home and for those outside the home should be faithfully practiced. Charity should prevail in all things. In this increasingly materialistic world, we do our children a grave disservice by the excessive accumulation of possessions. We teach them to love creation more than the Creator. Resist all disordered attachments that keep you from advancing in the life of grace. Living simply allows us to live with a generosity of spirit that teaches children to care for their neighbor who is in need… remember Our Lord’s teaching that when we fail to serve the least of our brethren, we fail to care for Him.

Look for ways to reach out beyond the family to assist those in need, both with your financial means and with your presence. Involve your children. Have them contribute to a charitable fund from their allowance. Involve them in preparing aid packages for the local shelter and food bank. Take them with you, where appropriate, to serve in person those less fortunate.

Most of all, be present to your children… patient and loving, firm and steadfast. Protect them from the evil of the world and help them discover their vocation from God.

5. Teach Your Children the Faith

It is simply not enough to expect the local parish or Catholic school to be the sole teacher of your children when it comes to what the Church teaches. We must take an active role as their primary teachers.

CCC 2223 – “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children…”

This “primary” roles means it is both before and above all others who are teachers of our children. We need to teach them in all the ways already discussed, plus we need to make sure that our children do not grow up to be doctrinally illiterate. Teach them their catechism, read the bible with them, and make discussion of heavenly matters and their role as pilgrims on this earth a natural part of the family experience. They were made for heaven, so keep their eyes fixed on their supernatural home even as you help them navigate the waters of this temporary world. Teach them the human virtues of the life of grace by which they can overcome sinful tendencies. Teach them “what a wonderful savior we have in Jesus.”

6. Live the Sacramental and Liturgical Life

While the family is the first, that is, the Domestic Church, the Christian family is also a part of the larger family of God, the Church. Therefore, as parents, we have a grave responsibility to make sure that our children participate in the life of the parish, especially in the liturgical life and sacraments. As our children grow, their involvement in worship as part of the Catholic parish should be fostered through practice and education. The Mass will never be “boring” to one who has been raised to understand what it is. Assist at Holy Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days, even while traveling on vacation… even if it is very inconvenient to do so. Take your children to Confession regularly – help them prepare and teach them not to be afraid. Show them God’s mercy and love. Develop in them a love for the Blessed Sacrament.

7. Practice Devotion to St. Joseph

Get to know St. Joseph. Meditate and reflect on his life and example. God did not entrust Jesus to only Mary, but also to Joseph. Find in him an example to follow and a powerful intercessor in prayer. Call on him in prayer each day as you raise your children and honor their mother.

There are many other lessons which could be included here. I hope you will share them with one another. We need to instill in our children the sense that they have been called to a high and noble purpose. Teach them to give praise and honor to God and to be grateful for His many blessings and to be good stewards of His gifts. How wonderful it is to be a part of this family which is the Catholic Church.

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Letting Our Children Fail

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

No one wants to let their child fail. It can be one of the hardest and rewarding things we do for our children. When do we let them fail? How do we be there for them without being there for them too much?

Objective

Have you ever looked at some of the things that are going on in your kids’ lives and wondered why they are doing something or the other? You may wonder why they just won’t listen to you and gain knowledge from your experience. Have you thought that maybe God is allowing these situations in our children’s lives in order for them to become what He desires for all of us? If we constantly bail our children out when they get in trouble from their own device or if we constantly monitor and control situations and their environment to keep them safe, they will never gain all of the above. So when we as parents always say that it seems our kids must learn the hard way, remember that this is not only true but it is by design.

    Perhaps we should teach them godly ways and allow them the freedoms appropriate to age to make their own decisions but don’t interfere with the natural consequences if they are hard on them. Create a godly home and expose them to a godly lifestyle but don’t manipulate in order to control certain outcomes. Even though our kids’ tribulations may often be of their own doing, God can still use these times to foster dependence on Him and a desire to live a godly life if we stay out of the way.

    When we rescue them we really do them a disservice because we not only cheat them out of a spiritual growth experience but also a regular life experience. So the next time your son or daughter is bent on finding something out on their own, let them. Don’t hold back or stand in the way of any natural consequences that come from it. God has a purpose for disobedience; let Him pursue it.

Bible Readings

1. Romans 11:30-32

For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

2. Proverbs – Chapter 22:6

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

3. Ephesians 2:12-13

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2206

The relationships within the family bring an affinity of feelings, affections and interests, arising above all from the members’ respect for one another. The family is a privileged community called to achieve a “sharing of thought and common deliberation by the spouses as well as their eager cooperation as parents in the children’s upbringing.”

2. Paragraph 2207

The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society.

Small Group Questions

  1. Think of a time when you let your child fail. Discuss the outcome with the team.
  2. Think of a time when you wished you let your child fail but you didn’t. Discuss the outcome with the team.

Recommended Resources

· http://g12studyjournal.blogspot.com/2008/08/let-your-kids-fail-sometimes.html

· http://www.sinaitemple.org/learning_with_the_rabbis/writings/LettingOurChildrenFail0222.pdf

Accountability

  1. Is there an opportunity to let your child fail in the near future? Think about what they would learn from this lesson.
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Strategies for Keeping Your Kids or Grandkids Catholic

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

A child’s faith trajectory is fairly established by the time they reach 14 years of age. Young adults are considered one of the most un-churched generations. The challenge is to help young people experience Catholicism as fulfilling their spiritual hunger. What can we do to help our children and grandchildren nurture and remain active in their faith?

Objective

Children tend to follow the faith of their parents. Roman Catholic families have traditionally had a passive approach to educating their children about the Catholic faith, delegating the responsibility of teaching our faith to others (teachers, schools, priests, nuns, etc.). As fathers, we have a critical role in establishing the importance of faith in our families. Our children look to us for guidance. We have a narrow window of time to influence their beliefs and establish the faith as an important part of their lives. The powerful memories that we give our kids will sustain them and give them roots, when temptations of the world challenge them.

Bible Readings

1. Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

2. Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

3. Matthew 19:13-14

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2223

“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them.”

2. Paragraph 2228

“Parents’ respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs. As the children grow up, the same respect and devotion lead parents to educate them in the right use of their reason and freedom.”

Small Group Questions

  1. What type of spiritual example are you setting for your children?
  2. Do you pray with your kids?
  3. What events/things do you do with your kids to put faith in action?
  4. Have you ever read “YOUCAT” or done a Bible study with your kids?

Recommended Resources

  1. “8 Strategies for Keeping Your Kids Catholic”, by Robert McCarty, 2008 Liguori Publications (Most of pamphlet included below)
  2. Strong Catholic Families, Strong Catholic Youth by Michael Theisen (National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry):
  3. http://www.diojeffcity.org/Ministries/ChristianEd/ReligiousEd/Strong%20Catholic%20Families/A2FamilyFaithResourceBookBWrevised.pdf
  4. “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers”, by Christian Smith and Melina Lundquist Denton, 2009
  5. “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults”, by Christian Smith and Patricia Snell, 2009

Accountability

  1. Set a positive image and be your child’s spiritual example.
  2. Review the 8 strategies with your wife and look for ways to be engaged with your kids regarding putting the faith in action.
  3. Conversation starters about faith and religion you can use with you kids:
    1. Where do you most experience the presence of God?
    2. Where or when do you pray best?
    3. What characteristics of Jesus are you most attracted to?
    4. What is the best part of belonging to our parish?
    5. What is the one thing you would change about our parish?
    6. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is going to Mass on Sunday for you? What makes it that number?
    7. Have you ever had an experience where your faith was really tested?
    8. Have you ever had an experience where your faith has really helped you?
    9. Who do you consider to be a genuine person of faith?
    10. What church teaching most confuses you?
    11. How is your faith different now from when you were younger?
    12. What experiences, places, or persons have really fostered your growth in faith?

Author(s)

Michael Copfer and Ken Mai

Included Resources

8 Strategies for Keeping Your Kids Catholic, by Robert McCarty, 2008 Liguori Publications

1. Practice and Participate:

Contrary to popular opinion, the Number 1 influence in the faith life of young people is the faith life of their parents. Young people really do mirror the faith life of their parents, so the way we practice our religion is very important. Our participation is Sunday Mass and other special liturgical celebrations, as well as our active involvement in the life of the parish, shows our children that our religion is a significant part of our lives. In addition to Mass attendance, we can participate in retreats, Bible study groups, church organizations and ministries, or adult catechesis sessions.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, invite them to go with you – even if it’s just on a special holy day or anniversary. They may decline, but your invitation will remind them that Mass is a meaningful part of your life and that you wish to share your faith with them.

2. Model Our Faith:

In addition to worshiping with our children, we can have a great impact on the faith of young people when our faith guides our daily routines and interactions. Faith should influence our lifestyle choices, use of time, how we handle conflicts, the relationships we form, and even how we handle work issues. It may sound trite, but the two most obvious challenges to the practice of faith in real life are how adults drive their cars and how they behave at sports events! Our spontaneous reactions in emotional situations can reveal to others whether our faith and values influence our behavior.

So we might ask ourselves: Do we pray at home in the evening? Before family meals? In restaurants? Do we remember people who are less fortunate in our prayers? Do we pray for our children’s intentions? For their friends? Do we model forgiveness and reconciliation in our lives by admitting when we are wrong and forgiving others who hurt us? How do we handle crises such as death, divorce and illnesses? Does our faith impact how we celebrate Christmas, Easter, or other holy days? Do we volunteer our time and talent to ant service organizations or civic programs? All of these situations are part of life. Our young people watch to see if faith makes sense to us, if faith works for us. They are looking for a faith that provides meaning in all areas of their life, not just on Sundays.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass on Sunday, model your Catholicism at all times and in all settings.

3. Include Young Adults:

What a blessing it would be if all our young people were greeted by name when they walked through the church doors! We begin to meet their hunger for connection by welcoming them on Sunday and fostering their participation in the faith community. A sense of belonging is a very strong bond.

These experiences begin with the parish young adult ministry program. Young adults need to gather with their peers right in their own church. They need opportunities to build community with their peers, to feel connected with other faith-filled persons, and to interact with caring, believing adults. Parents should encourage their young adult’s participation in appropriate parish activities Parishes must be intentional in including young adults in their liturgical, pastoral, and leadership ministries. We can’t wait until young people ask or volunteer: we must actively invite them into responsible participation in the life, work and mission of the faith community.

Of course, the experience of community goes beyond the local Church. Gathering with other young adults through national groups such as Theology on Tap or at diocesan or international events like World Youth Day will give them a sense of belonging to something bigger. One of the main benefits of these events is that participants connect with their peers from other regions and cultures. It helps bring home the truth that they are part of an important and inclusive global community.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, help them experience their membership in the greater Catholic family. Encourage them to be involved in liturgical ministries and invite them to be leaders in parish programs.

4. Doing Faith:

One of the most important characteristics of the spirituality of young adults is their need to “do faith.” Actions inspired by faith are powerful experiences. Perhaps the most profound experience of doing faith is involvement in justice and service projects. Serving in soup kitchens, participating in a work camp, working in a community shelter program or emergency-outreach center, tutoring children, or participating in public events for justice can have a significant impact on the faith of young adults and respond to their hunger for justice.

Similarly, young people “do faith” when they participate in retreats, pilgrimages, or public Stations of the Cross. These can be moving experiences of faith in action, too. All of these experiences are even more powerful when young adults and their parents participate in events together.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, encourage them to “do faith” through their participation in service to the community, in parish ministries and in special liturgical events.

5. Learning Opportunities:

Young adults do need to know the traditions, creed, teachings and stories of our faith community. They need to know the story of Jesus and the gospel message. Many are genuinely interested in reading and understanding Scripture. They need to know to know what it means to be Catholic, and they want to learn how to participate in the rituals and worship of the Church. The faith community needs to be a safe place where young adults can bring their questions and where they can search with others for answers that make sense, meet their needs and provide meaning and purpose in their lives.

Further, our young people need to know about that unique dimension of our faith often described as our Catholic “imagination.” Catholics “see” the world differently. Through our sacramental lens, we encounter a world filled with God’s presence. Our traditional practices, our use of images, our symbols, and our rituals provide an avenue to an encounter with an imminent, loving God.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, find opportunities for them to learn more about their faith through Bible study, faith-sharing groups, or other diocesan programs-and offer to go with them!

6. Prayer Skills:

Young adults need both personal and communal experiences of prayer. They can be creative and enthusiastic when they are invited to compose original prayers or spiritual poems that incorporate their favorite music and symbols. Often they are very open to traditional contemplative Catholic approaches to prayer, such as the Ignatian exercises, which enable them to connect with Spirit within.

They should also be encouraged to participate with the faith community in worship experiences, sharing in the Catholic community’s understanding of God, our traditions, our unique rituals and our ways of prayer. This “both/and” approach to the personal and communal dimension fosters their experience of prayer as the outpouring of their relationship with God and deepens their faith.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, talk with them about personal prayer and the value of praying together at Mass.

7. Faith Sharing:

As young adults search for a personal understanding of God, they must be able and encouraged to look for God’s presence in their lived experiences. Young adults should be assisted in naming their experience of a God who is active and present in their lives. God does not wait to be invited into the lives of young people. God takes the initiative and is present, but God waits to be identified or named. Many young adults need language to help them understand and express their experiences of God.

Parents and other caring, faith-filled adults can assist young adults in identifying God’s presence in their joys and sorrows, in their hopes and dreams and in their day-to-day lives. Of course, this requires that we have the language to name the presence of God in our own lives. We can ask our young adults where they experience God, where they pray best, where they feel joy and sorrow, for God is present there. And we can share our own experiences.

This faith sharing is a very important task because young people will never understand the Hebrew-Christian Scriptures until they can read the Scriptures of their own lives. Therein young adults experience the God who is always active and resent. And we should be open to having our own understanding of God challenged and perhaps deepened by our young adults’ experience of God.

If you want young adults to go to Mass, ask them questions about their faith life.

8. Compelling Adventure:

At the heart of their spiritual hunger is the desire of young adults for a compelling vision of life that provides a genuine sense of meaning and purpose-a noble adventure worthy of their commitment. The Catholic Church inherited the noble adventure and compelling mission of Jesus Christ-to build the reign of god-to make the world better for all people.

Participation in this spiritual adventure requires a community of companions also committed to thus mission-that is, the Church. There is also a need to celebrate this adventure regularly-that is, at Mass. At its best, liturgy is a spiritual drama that tells the story of Jesus and connects that story with building the reign here and now.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, call them to a compelling adventure worthy of their lives.

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Making Dinner Table Conversations Count

August 19, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Dads, do you make good use of dinner table time to communicate with your children? Do you even make time for dinner as a family? How can you take an ordinary meal and turn it into a time to listen to your children and reach them on a new level?

Objective

Our lives are so busy with work, taking Johnny to football, taking Mary to soccer, and all the many engagements and obligations we have to deal with. How can we as fathers:

  • Preserve and enhance family values by eating together as a family
  • Take the opportunity to hear what our children have to say about their lives
  • Take the opportunity to create learning moments of our Christian values
  • Take the opportunity to see how our children interact with each other
  • Strengthen the example we are as Husband and Wife, a team, in front of our children

Bible Readings

1. Deuteronomy 6: 6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

2. Hebrews 12: 7-11

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

3. Matthew 18: 10-14

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 1601

“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament

2. Paragraph 2223

Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:

He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

3. Paragraph 1784

The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.

Small Group Questions

  1. How often do you have dinner together as a family? Have you and your wife made this a priority? Do you have a target number of days where you make an effort to make this happen?
  2. How important was dinner as a family to your upbringing? Do you engender that same or an improved experience?
  3. Who is the first up from the dinner table? Is it you because you have so much to do?
  4. Do you encourage each of your children to talk during dinner? Do you take the time to reinforce positive values and actions. Can you do this without passing judgment in front of everyone?
  5. How do you manage to talk to your children and communicate Christian values without being too much of a preacher?

Recommended Resources

1. Family Dinner Conversation Starters
http://fatherhood.about.com/od/challenges/a/dinner_talk.htm

Accountability

  1. If you don’t have a set goal of having dinner as a family, discuss this with your wife and set a goal.
  2. When you do have dinner as a family, set a goal to listen and be the LAST one up from the table.
  3. Look for ways to increase family discussion and bonding around the dinner table, you’ll be amazed how it carries through in their adult lives as siblings.

Author(s)

Reid Rooney (Previously -Dan Lape)

Included Resources

1. Article by Eronne Ward:
http://ezinearticles.com/?Eating-Dinner-With-the-Family—Its-More-Important-Than-You-Might-Think&id=2450865

When was the last time you had dinner with your family? It is the meal we often skip because we work late, the kids have sporting events or we get tired from daily activities. But, skipping dinner with the family is not a good practice. In fact, it is detrimental to the family dynamic.

There are some interesting facts surrounding family dinner time. For instance, teens that spend dinner time eating with their family are less likely to get involved in drugs, alcohol or other illicit activity. This is a point many parents will find interesting. Out of all of the things you do to try to keep your kids away from bad influences, the one thing that is the greatest influence is still the event that we skip routinely.

Family dinners are more than just a meal. It is about the only time that families have to share time through the week. Whether you sit down to the dinner table or enjoy a meal and a movie on tray tables in the family room, the important thing is that you are together.

The main point is that conversation is taking place. The average parent talks to their child less than 40 minutes a week. It takes a second to say “Hi” when you come in at night, but that isn’t effective communication. When dinner is shared by the family, you spend at least 45 minutes to an hour talking about everything and anything that may be on your mind. Even if you are watching a television program, engaging questions can arise from topics addressed in the program.

Why is dinner so important? For one thing, it is a time to share thoughts and feelings. All day, kids are influenced by teachers, friends and the outside world. At the dinner table, they get a chance to connect with their parents on tough issues like schoolwork, peer pressure, friendships and other things. Children can each share and help one another with helpful suggestions. Parents can even talk about work or family finances over a meal.

Young children learn how to communicate with their siblings and parents. They are the center of attention with questions about their day and it makes them feel happy. You know that kids always want to be in the limelight when they are a certain age and this helps them learn to share the spot with others.

For teenage girls, body image is often a very relevant issue. Through family dinners, they can learn to prepare and eat healthy meals, learn that eating right will keep their bodies in shape, and of utmost importance, learn not to avoid food. Teen girls are less likely to become the victim of an eating disorder and more likely to develop a healthy view of food and their bodies when they eat dinner with their families.

There are many benefits to eating dinner with the family. It is a time for meaningful communication that leads to stronger self-images, as well as a greater resistance to the urges of drugs, alcohol, peer-pressure, and other destructive behaviors in your kids and teens. For all these reasons as well as to help unite the family, a concerted effort should be made to make family dinners a common practice.

2. FAMILY DINNER CONVERSATION STARTERS…great 1 page grid with examples… http://www.iespta.org/files/FAMILY_DINNER_CONVERSATION_STARTERS.pdf

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