What New Dads Do

Real men love their kids. My life has been blessed by two wonderful real men: My father, and my husband.

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Pope Francis: Without Fathers Young People Feel Orphaned

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12327292@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12327292@N00/

We have a nation of children who feel orphaned because their fathers are not in their lives.

Fatherhood requires something that a lot of people in our society have grown up thinking is immoral: It requires self-sacrifice and putting someone else ahead of yourself.

What it gives is something a lot of people in our society have been taught to think is worthless: Love and the incredible blessing of shielding and shepherding new life.

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Maternity as a Masters


Is motherhood equal to a master’s degree?

I think it’s much greater than that. Employers are missing a bet by punishing both mothers and fathers for putting their families first. Not only are they aiding in the destruction of our society, but they are cheating themselves out of employees who are the kind of people who can and do commit and go the distance.

Giving motherhood the respect it deserves is a much needed antidote for the the sins of this world. The video below describes a movement that began in Italy which seeks to do just that. This movement and those like it are an important step in the right direction.

The evil of abortion — and through it a plethora of life-destroying movements — found traction in the public imagination precisely because child bearing and motherhood had been used as a means to justify discrimination against women and to limit their lives.

Women don’t need the “right” to kill their own children. They need respect and support for motherhood. No woman should be forced to chose between a murdered child and a ruined life. I believe this so passionately that I’m currently writing a whole book about it.

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The Family Drug Addict and Thanksgiving

 

I don’t know what it is about the holidays. All I know is that the family alcoholics/drug addicts cannot stand the happiness that might happen at this time of the year.

So, they rouse themselves from their self-absorption and go to work, manufacturing crises and doing everything in their power to pull the rest of the family into the traumas of their own devising. They won’t stop until you stop them, or until they’ve made such a mess of the holiday that everyone — Every. Single. Person. — from the littlest baby to the senile old lady is a frazzled wreck, and sullenness and misery hang over the turkey like a fog.

The holidays are their deal. You can set your calendar by the oncoming train wreck that your family drug addict/alcoholic will provide.

I missed it this year. Things have been so lovely lately. I’m deep into a prayer time and I am free of the weight of public office and I just got my piano tuned, and my kids are doing great and my husband loves me and my Mama is precious and, and, and … all is well. Sigh. Close your eyes and breath in the peace.

All this contentment made me a sitting duck for the family drug addict and her annual permutations on holiday-destroying crisis creation. I missed it entirely when I got the calls about going to the hospital. Now, I wasn’t so stupid as to actually drop everything and rush over to the hospital to do some grade-A emergency hand holding. Been there. Done that. Not doing it again.

No, I listened and then started rationing my answers to the phone calls. That helped. But it’s still peace-destroying to have 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 (I kid you not) phone calls in a few hours. I put the phone on silencer, but even the constant buzzing sound of the vibration can make me tighten up inside.

When none of that got me involved, it became a matter of me making decisions which would have gagged Solomon, decisions which I flat-out refused to make. Drug addicts are manipulative to the max, and I got a full dose. Every button that love can create got punched.

It was at this point that I finally realized that, hey, Thanksgiving is this week and this is the Annual Ruin the Holidays whatever. After I finally “got” it, things simplified.

I no longer feel harassed because I no longer feel pulled in two directions. My normal instinct to go and save someone I love is disconnected now. I realize that this is just her, doing her druggie thing that she does every year and I have no reason to feel conflicted about not allowing her to jerk me into it. I am actually doing the responsible thing for myself, my family, my guests and for her.

As soon as Thanksgiving is past, she will go back to her usual drug doing life and all will be quiet until she ramps it up again for Christmas.

Because nothing any of us can do will “fix” the family drug addict/alcoholic. That’s all on them. There is so much help out there for them; our whole society runs around with its hands out, trying to convince them to take treatment.

I’ve done the deal with my family drug addict. We’ve been through the phoney-baloney-hyped-up uselessness of the most expensive treatment center in Oklahoma. It did no good, largely because it catered to its privileged clients and went in for touchy-feely puff and stuff instead of demanding the raw grit of honesty.

For my money, AA — which is free — is the single best program. It works. I’ve seen it work.

But nothing is going to do any good unless the drug addict/alcoholic wants it to work enough to swim through the misery of change. Change, even without alcohol and drugs, is never easy.

Giving up an addiction to a substance is both physical and mental. It requires going through some unpleasant detoxing and some even more unpleasant honesty and then topping that off with leaving behind the warm bath of your old drug/alcohol supporting friends and lifestyle and jumping into the cold snow of living life naked, without the drugs/alcohol to blur out the edges.

I know people who have recovered from addiction. They did it the hard way. It began by making a decision that they didn’t want to die. That’s a wise and realistic decision, because alcoholism and drug addiction are killers. First, they destroy your personality. Then, they destroy your family. Then, they lay you in the ground.

I’m not writing this to vent about my experiences with the family drug addict. I’m writing it to tell you what you must do with your family alcoholic/drug addict this holiday.

Send them away.

Shut the door and don’t let them in. If you have children, you must keep them away. Children deserve and must have a stable environment to be able to grow into the people they were meant to be. Children deserve a Thanksgiving free of the manufactured and utterly unnecessary drama that alcoholics and drug addicts inflict on people. As their parent, it is your job to protect them from the crazy destructiveness of the drug and alcohol addicted.

If you have children, give the family drug addict/alcoholic the heave ho. I mean that. Kick them out and nail the door shut behind them. They can stop when they want to stop. There is a whole world of help out there, begging them to allow themselves to be aided in their recovery.

But you can not stop them. You can not help them.

What you can do is save yourself, your family, and most importantly, your children from the chaos and complete destruction that will happen if you let these people in.

Just to make my point clear, I’m going to repeat it: If you have children, your first responsibility is to keep the kids clear of the drug addict/alcoholic and their soul destroying behavior. Protect your kids: Kick the drug addict/alcoholic out.

I’m going back to my retreat now. That may sound a bit counter-intuitive, after this rant. After all, aren’t Christians supposed to forgive? Aren’t we supposed to lend a helping hand?

In truth, forgiveness doesn’t enter into this. I love the family drug addict, and love always forgives. I’ve forgiven her already. It’s not a matter of forgiveness, it’s a matter of accepting reality. And the reality is that until/unless she really wants to stop using, I can’t help her.  My only choice is whether or not I let her destroy other people along with herself.

I have a lot to pray about. The one thing you can do for drug addicts/alcoholics is pray for them. That does work. Again, I’ve seen it work. Pray for them and for yourself and the rest of the family. And then trust them to God. You’ve done all you can do.

Voice of the Child of Divorce

 

Powerful and true.

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Raising Kids with a Super Spiritual Foundation

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The Word Exposed: The Christian Family

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6 Things I Hope the Synod on the Family Does That It Doesn’t Seem to be Doing Now

I had high hopes for the Synod on the Family.

I had hope that it would find ways for the Church to support and strengthen traditional marriage, that it would address the real problems of children of divorce who grow up with half their souls amputated by the constant roiling.

I had hope that it would take a look at ways to help people who are trying their best to follow Catholic teaching in a hostile world where one McJob won’t support a family, so both parents end up with with two or three jobs, leaving the children to raise themselves.

I had hope that the Synod would address the clanging juxtaposition of overprivileged kids in too-expensive Catholic schools staging walk-outs from their fine educations while inner city kids are forced to share textbooks and don’t even feel physically safe.

I had hope that the Synod would find ways to strengthen the family, not abandon and destroy it.

In truth, I not only had hopes for the Synod, I had trust in it. I believed in it and in the men who were participating in it. Now, I’m afraid of what they may do.

Here are 6 things I wish the Synod on the Family would consider that it doesn’t seem to be considering now.

 

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1. Poverty and its deleterious effect on families. As I mentioned above, even here in America, poverty grinds families to bits. American children aren’t forced to scavenge in garbage dumps for food. But they spend most of their lives being raised by everything and everybody except their parents.

There is such a divide between the elites and the rest of this country that I honestly don’t think they know or believe what their policies are doing to ordinary people. Low wages and a stagnant economy caused by exporting our industrial base has led to the need for mothers and dads to work two or three jobs apiece, just to put a roof over their kids’ heads.

There’s no nanny or au pair for these kids. They end up raising themselves, and being raised by other kids and the second-rate schools they must attend. As soon as the law allows, they get McJobs of their own, often working long hours to help support the family. The resulting exhaustion often ends their education.

Too many of them opt out altogether. Their real family, their real parents, are the gangs and the other kids. They have no moorings to make decisions, so they fall into early and promiscuous sex, babies without dads, drugs and gangs.

That’s in America.

I’m sure it’s much worse — by powers of ten — in developing countries. After all, the reason our corporations shipped our industrial base overseas was to be in places where it could treat people any way it wanted.

Divorce among the working class and lower classes in America is a plague; as is shacking up and having kids out of wedlock.

It destroys families. And the destruction of families destroys lives.

Perhaps the Synod should look at what it can do to help Catholics who want to have families and raise them well but are crippled by poverty that makes living out their vocation a desperate and losing fight. How can the Church support families in the face of poverty and corporatism? I wish they’d look at that.

Catholics praying

2. How the Church can actually teach its teachings to the people in the pews. Re-writing the Gospels to fit the times is not the correct pastoral answer. The correct pastoral answer is to take a look at why the Bishops have been such abysmal failures at teaching Church teaching.The arguments these men are having now are a direct result of their failure to teach in the past.

The Church leadership has gotten soft and disengaged. It has lost its missionary fervor. Its operating ethos is build-a-church-building-then-wait-for-the-parishioners-to-come. Follow that by preaching fine homilies that are nonetheless removed from the fact that ordinary pew-sitting Catholics are out there without ammunition or support on the front lines of a cultural war.

I don’t think that Catholic clergy really “get” what the Catholic laity is facing every single day. I don’t believe they understand the many social martyrdoms that many devout Catholics endure.

My hope is that the Synod could address this failure as it applies to the family and actually talk about how to help Catholic laity be the Light of the World that Jesus calls them to be.

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3. Stop speaking in indirections and obscure language. I would love to see our religious leaders take the marbles out of their mouths and actually communicate in a straightforward manner. The flap over the relatio is a case in point.

I’ve heard comments that people are “stupid” for not understanding that the document is just basically minutes of the previous meetings and nothing official. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my dealings with the public, it’s that if you say it, and they don’t get it, it’s on you to fix that. Leadership is mostly a matter of being understood.

This inability to speak in simple declarative sentences may be a large part of why the bishops have failed so disastrously these past decades in their job as teachers of the faith. If I could make one reform of Catholic clergy it would be to teach them to talk to people about the faith from the heart.

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4. Bring Catholic education back in line with Catholic belief, and provide it to the poor. Catholic education is losing its Catholic savor. It is also more and more the inaccessible privilege of the privileged. It smacks of hypocrisy to preach about “the poor” while shutting the doors to a good Catholic education in the “the poor’s” faces.

Catholic families of every social strata need the Church’s help in raising their children to be Catholic. If Catholic schools fail in this mission — and many of them are demonstrably failing horribly — then what are parents to do? By the same token, if access to a Catholic education is denied to parishioners who are trapped in the McJob syndrome, that will only quicken and deepen the destruction of their children.

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5. Address the plague of drug addiction that destroys our families. Drug addiction destroys the personalities of the people who suffer from it, and it also destroys the homes and happiness of everyone they love. It is a plague that is filling up prisons, destroying families, leaving children damaged and too bereft to become functioning adults, and hollowing out whole societies.

It leads to corruption and massive violence on a governmental scale. If the Synod wants to help families, it needs to discuss ways the Church can aid them in their anguished fight against drug addiction.

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6. Talk about Jesus, not one another. The priesthood is not supposed to be all about the priests. From the sex abuse scandal to some of the things I’m hearing from this Synod, the trouble stems, not from a lack of leadership, but a lack of followership.

Many of our religious leaders seem to think that their world is the whole world and that they have no need for the humble reliance on Christ that is the mark of true Christians the world over. My hope for this Synod is that its participants will follow Christ, and not each other. My number one wish is that our religious leadership would preach Christ. If they would do that, everything else would follow.

Five Top Reasons to Homeschool Your Kids

It’s school time again.

What this meant to me as a homeschooling mom was organizing an attendance sheet (Yes. I kept an attendance sheet to make sure that we had the requisite number of school days.) and writing down my lesson plans (Yes. I had lesson plans.)

It also meant setting up two folding tables in the dining room to use as desks and enrolling the kids in science labs at the Omniplex and then in physical activities at the Y for the physical education class.

We usually topped off the first day of class by going to a movie together in the afternoon. Since we were a one-income family and totally broke, we went to the dollar movie. I sneaked sodas into the theater in my large handbag and we shared a single bag of popcorn.

We also did some sort of field trip every week or so. The zoo was a favorite. In the cold months, it was often the Omniplex. We could buy an annual membership of both for $50 that allowed the whole family to go as many times as we wanted without extra charge.

Homeschooling is hard work for mom. Holding down a job is a lot easier. But then, you’re building people. You are investing years of your life’s capital in your children.

I did it. It was the best investment I ever made.

Here, are five reasons I think most parents should consider homeschooling.

1. Socialization. Every home-schooling mom knows this word. It is flung at us as a question. What about socialization? we are asked.

In truth, there is no accurate way to answer that question except with another question: What do you mean by socialization?

If, by “socialization,” you mean interaction with other children and free play time, homeschooling has it all over the public and private schools. Unlike kids in public schools, homeschooled kids actually get free play time. Free play time is critical to blowing off steam so they can learn without Ritalin. It  forms skills, including social skills. Free play time also develops their whole personalities, including their creative, thinking powers.

If, on the other hand, you mean being subjected to the brainwashing our schools have come to specialize in, nope. They don’t get it.

As for interaction with other kids, there’s plenty of that in homeschooling. The difference is the kids they’re interacting with. Instead of spending their days with the messed up kids from the messed up homes that our society has come to see as the new normal, homeschooled kids spend their days with other homeschoolers, who are, by and large, from intact families and stable homes.

Plus — and this is critical — they spend a lot more time with their own parents, which gives them an emotional security that kids who are shipped around all their days will never have.

All in all, socialization is one of the best reasons to homeschool your kids.

2. Education. I first heard about the stunning educational effectiveness of homeschooling when I was on the board of regents of a college here in Oklahoma. The college president told the board that he was surprised to report that homeschooled kids were trouncing kids from public schools academically.

Not only that, but homeschooled kids didnt have the crippling behavioral problems that kids from the public schools exhibited. They were poised, sure of themselves, organized and they showed up for class ready to work. Both he and the faculty were surprised by this. It was a reality that flew in the face of all their previous suppositions. So, they were surprised. But they shouldn’t have been.

Homeschooling gives kids the chance to learn at their own pace. If a child is good at math, they can move quickly. If they struggle at math, they can slow down and work it through until they really learn it.

Homeschooling gives kids a one-on-one learning experience. Teacher mom is going to keep working with them on a knotty point until they understand and absorb it. There’s no going on and leaving them confused and lost because the rest of the group understands.

Homeschooling kids never end up in the dummy group. They are not subjected to bullying. They learn early that if they dig in and get their work done, they can go play. There is no sitting at their desk bored out of their gourd while the slower kids get finished.

Homeschooled kids can follow their interests. My youngest son loved chess. So, we joined the homeschool chess club. When the club entered its members in the statewide Chess tournament, my son went.

I have terrible handwriting. Somehow or other, the judges decided (I guess they didn’t look at the kid. Either that, or they were trying to punish him for being homeschooled.) that the number 4 I wrote on his entry card was a 9. So, they put my little fourth grader in competition with public school and private school 9th graders.

If this was an attempt to punish him for being homeschooled, it failed. Big time. He won the tournament and brought home the first place trophy. He beat them all.

The point? Homeschooling lets kids grow in directions that factory schools don’t.

3. Sexual harassment, twisted sex ed. If you have a daughter, this should be a big point. Based on what I heard from my constituents, sexual harassment of girls in our public schools is close to being pro forma. This is actually supported by sex ed classes that push kids toward sexual activity at a too-young age. Your daughter has a much better chance of growing up to be a strong, independent young woman if she can skip this abuse during her formative years.

4. Religious freedom. Your kids can pray in homeschool. They can also read the Bible, talk about God and and express their feelings on issues of faith — all without fear of being hounded and trounced by lawyer-laden adults with agendas.

I read Hurlbut’s Bible stories aloud to my kids at the beginning of our school day for our first two years of homeschooling. My mother had this old book from her childhood and I read it on my own when I was little. I advise it to anyone, whether they are Catholic or Protestant.

We read The One-Year Bible for Kids the next year. We took turns reading different portions aloud.

After reading the Bible, we prayed together.

We also read a lot of other books on religious topics. Usually, I read them aloud to the kids, because they contained ideas that I wanted us to talk about. We’d read and then discuss.

5. Exploration. Homeschooled kids have the opportunity to noodle with ideas until they grok them. I remember when we were doing baby physics.

Things don’t fall, I told them. Gravity pulls. I dropped a wadded-up piece of paper and a can of beans on the carpet. When they hit at the same time, both kids were a bit gobsmacked. I did it again. They were still confused. So, I flattened out the paper and dropped it and the beans again. When the paper drifted down and hit later than the can of beans, the oldest boy “got” it.

But the youngest did not believe it. He would not accept it. He spent the afternoon, dropping all sorts of objects, looking for a “proof” that Mom was a nut and this gravity stuff was myth.

The opportunity to prove the idea to himself is unique to homeschooling. So is the good-natured discussion that went on during this learning time. At the end of that day, they both “got” it and we could go on to talk about terminal velocity and other interesting ideas the next day.

I saw this acted out in my kids over and over again. We read aloud through a children’s version of Homer. When we got to the sack of Troy, class broke down for a while as the kids played Greek soldier. Then, I had them write a Boyodyssey, about a journey of their own devising. One of them wrote about the family cat, going on a hunt.

This breakdown from study to story-inspired play was just as much part of the learning process as reading the book or writing the Boyodyssey. Years later, one of them took me to see the movie The 400 with him. He knew all about the story and the politics behind the war itself. We’d read/written/talked about this entire war (both wars, in fact) and its significance to Western civilization when he was a kid.

I could go on, but I’ll stop at these five reasons to homeschool your kids.

Our society is increasingly poisonous to children. Your children are a gift and a responsibility from God. Nothing you can do with your life is as important as raising these precious little ones in such a way that they can become the people God intended them to be from the moment of their conception. They are your value added to (or, if you blow it, your value subtracted from) the human equation.

I can think of no better investment in your children’s lives and well-being than homeschooling.

 

Homeschooling Resources: Homeschool Legal Defense Association

Vegisource Homeschool  You can buy homeschool curriculum here, for a fraction of what it would cost new.

Homeschool World It is essential to find other homeschoolers. This is a place to start.

Curriculum:

Many of these programs are accredited. They all provide a framework for homeschooling. This is just a taste. There are many choices.

Sonlight Curriculum This is what I used. Protestant, but can easily be adjusted for Catholics

Ave Maria Academy Classical homeschooling curriculum.

Seton Home Study School  I have homeschooling friends who have used this with outstanding success. Rigorous, traditional, Catholic.

Lepanto Press Traditional Catholic

A Becka Protestant. Traditional. I started with this and abandoned it quickly. But if you want a traditional classroom curriculum with a Protestant slant, this is a good one.

ADULTS ONLY for This One: Rape is Hilarious

I have nothing to add to this. The video speaks for itself.

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