Page 1

Being a Parent Today

b. Being a Parent Today.indd 1

Children, Faith and Family Life

Edited by Fr Stephen Wang Illustrated by Simone Lia A booklet published by Ten Ten Theatre and the Catholic Truth Society

WHQWHQ WKHDWUH

Catholic truth society publishers to the holy see

27/03/2012 16:28


2

Contents Introduction: How Not to Use This Booklet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Children and Childhood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Parenting and Family Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Activities and Celebrations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Talking and Listening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Discipline and Boundaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Religion and Faith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Meals and Food . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Making Space and Taking Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Praying Alone and Praying Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Chastity and Sex Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 TV and Internet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Church and Sunday Mass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Education and School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Yourself and Your Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Difficulties and Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Failure and Forgiveness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Love and Kindness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Prayers to Learn and to Treasure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

b. Being a Parent Today.indd 2

27/03/2012 16:28


3

INTRODUCTION: How Not To Use This Booklet Every child is different. Every parent is different. Being a parent is not about learning a set of rules and putting them into practice like a robot. It’s about living in the messy reality of everyday life. It’s about loving your children as best you can – with all your strengths and weaknesses, and with all their strengths and weaknesses. It’s sometimes about just getting to the end of the day! And it often unfolds by instinct, or by accident, rather than by following some master-plan. This booklet is not a manual telling you how to be a good parent. It’s a collection of thoughts and ideas from ordinary mothers and fathers, based on their own experiences of bringing up their children. And it includes a few extra thoughts from one or two Catholic priests, deacons and lay-people who have spent time supporting families in different ways. It’s meant to be like a conversation between friends – swapping stories, sharing ideas, laughing about things that have happened, supporting each other when things have been difficult. If you are stumbling through family life, it can be reassuring to know that others are stumbling through beside you; and it can help to know what they are learning along the way.

b. Being a Parent Today.indd 3

27/03/2012 16:28


4 Everyone needs encouragement. Sometimes an idea or suggestion can make you think about something in a new way, or inspire you to try something you haven’t tried before. The hope is that this booklet will help you to think about the amazing vocation that you have as parents. It may give you some ideas for your own family life. It may simply help you to appreciate more what you are already living. If you disagree with something written here, that’s fine! The disagreement might help you see more clearly what’s important in your own family and what works for you, and it might lead to some good discussions with your friends. What works for one person might not work for another. And what worked yesterday might not work today. Family life is incredibly fluid and unpredictable. The booklet was written mainly with Catholic parents and children in mind. Some of the sections are about the place of faith and prayer in family life and raising children. These parts will be particularly useful for Catholic families, and parents whose children go to Catholic schools. But many sections of the booklet should be helpful for all parents, whatever their faith. It doesn’t go into important questions about raising children on your own, or separation within the family, or

b. Being a Parent Today.indd 4

27/03/2012 16:28


5 bereavement. These topics are too big and too specific for this kind of booklet, even though some of the ideas here should be helpful for people in these situations. This booklet comes with a health warning: Whatever you do, don’t read it through from start to finish! If you do, it will seem like a list of rules (which will leave you feeling incredibly guilty and inadequate). Or it will seem like a huge ‘to do’ list (which will just leave you feeling worn out). This is a booklet to dip into - just to take one or two thoughts and see what they mean for you. And then come back to it another time. THANKS TO THOSE WHO HAVE HELPED A huge thank you to those who have helped in the writing of this booklet, by sharing their own thoughts and experiences, or by commenting on earlier drafts: Martin O’Brien, Clare O’Brien, Mary Scott, Fr Tim Menezes, Felicity Ball, Gifty Quainoo, Susan O’Brien, Clare Barbour, Silvia Madrigal, Anne Morton, Rev James Richards, Diane Richards, Marianne Cuthbertson, Catherine McGinnie, Amanda Toone, Robert Toone, Veronica Towers, Katy Whisenant, Sara Low, Robbie Low, Clare Watkins, Dominica Richmond, Rod Isaacs, Amanda Perreau-Saussine, Rosemary Boyle, Fr William Wright, Nicola Santamaria, Sarah Johnson, Rev Charlie Conner, Silvia Ambuul, Citra Abbot, Emily Keyte, Elizabeth Wang, Elizabeth Byrne Hill, Lizzie Hastings. A note about the quotations: Some of them are not strict wordfor-word quotations, but bring together the words and thoughts of different contributors, into a stand-alone quotation about a particular idea. A big thank you to Simone Lia for the beautiful illustrations and cover.

b. Being a Parent Today.indd 5

27/03/2012 16:28


6

CHILDREN AND CHILDHOOD Children are an extraordinary gift. Perhaps you hoped for a child. Perhaps this one came unexpectedly. Either way, this unique person is entrusted to you, to your love and care. On the one hand, this child is yours - with your genes, probably your surname, many of your looks and mannerisms. On the other hand, this child is completely unique - with their own personality, their own needs and interests, their own likes and dislikes. And they are a child of God – loved by God, made in his image, close to him now, and destined for a life with him for all eternity.

‘Give them love and security, and make your home a place where they always feel safe and welcome. But don’t be possessive. Give them freedom as well, and when the time comes, when they are older, let them go – knowing that they will come back if you don’t put pressure on them.’

b. Being a Parent Today.indd 6

27/03/2012 16:28


7

‘You want them to grow and learn, but you can’t force them to be a person that they are not. They are already a unique person! They have their own strengths and weaknesses, their own hopes and fears – which all need respecting. It’s not good to project your own idea of what you want yourself to be like on to them.’

• ‘There is that phrase: You can’t put an old head on new

shoulders. So we shouldn’t worry if our children are childish, or if it takes them time to learn something and to grow. It’s unhelpful to have impossibly high expectations of them. They are a wonderful work in progress!’

• ‘They need you to be parents and not friends or elder siblings.’ • ‘I find that if I am trustworthy, then the children will trust

me. And I try to trust them. And if they fail or break that trust, I try to talk to them, to hold them to account, and give them a way of earning the trust again. I’m teaching them, in other words, to be responsible.’

• ‘You need to respect your children’s privacy, especially as they get older – their space, their diary, etc. And not to betray them by gossiping about them or telling all their mistakes and bad habits to others.’

‘Don’t compare your children with each other. Each one is unique. Try to be fair in what you give them. Treat them equally, and never suggest you have favourites. Try to spend time with each one individually now and then.’

b. Being a Parent Today.indd 7

27/03/2012 16:28


8

‘We keep a diary of our children’s growing up. You think you will remember all the lovely details, but you won’t. And if you have more than one child the memories will blend together. For example, when they first did this, or when you talked to them about that. It’s partly practical: Have I told the third child how to be brave when things are difficult or how to deal with disappointment, etc?’

‘I don’t think you should spoil them with too many gifts or possessions. They love receiving gifts, but often they have too many to play with, and soon get bored of them. I have to be strong about telling relations and friends not to spoil them either. The adult desire to give is usually greater than the child’s ability to receive!’

‘Don’t lie to them. Don’t pretend things are always brilliant, or they will cease to believe you. Give loving, honest appraisals when it will be helpful.’

• ‘Childhood is fleeting, enjoy it while you can.’

b. Being a Parent Today.indd 8

27/03/2012 16:28


9

PARENTING AND FAMILY LIFE Parenting is a lifelong vocation. You are doing one of the most important things in the world, and there is no one who can do it for your family as well as you. Don’t waste time comparing yourself to other parents, or comparing your children to other children. God has given these unique human beings to you – and he knows what he’s doing. No child, in God’s eyes, is an accident. You can be grateful for your children, even when things are tough. Yes, you can seek advice from friends, family, and from books like this. But then make your own decisions and trust your instincts. Don’t be alarmed when other parents do things differently from you. You know your child and yourself better than anyone else. Once you have decided on a certain path, be confident about that, and don’t kill yourself worrying about whether you have made the perfect decision or not. It may not be perfect, but at least it will help you to go forward, instead of being paralysed.

• ‘Believe in your children. Have faith in them, love them, and support them.’

‘You can be yourself with your children, even if you have to hide some of your emotions or worries in order to protect them. Don’t have a different ‘voice’ for them!’

b. Being a Parent Today.indd 9

27/03/2012 16:28


10

• ‘You have to learn to live with imperfection. I follow ‘the

muddling along theory of parenting’: Try one thing. Then try another. Keep trying. Hang in there. Do your best. Don’t hate yourself because you are not Supermum or Superdad. And if things go wrong, admit this, humbly.’

‘Teach children to be the kind of people you hope they will be: loving, generous, forgiving, kind, helpful, brave, creative... It won’t just happen. They need to learn about these ‘virtues’, and be encouraged to develop them. Above all, avoid negativity and complaining. If you yourself are happy and hopeful, it will help the children to be happy and hopeful.’

‘We mustn’t forget to teach children to manage ordinary life: Crossing the road, telling the time, using money, etc. Ordinary things that we can take for granted as adults.’

• ‘It’s so easy to conform, or to worry what others are

thinking all the time. I’d say: Don’t be afraid to be different, to think outside the box. Not to be different for its own sake, but because you feel it could be really important for your family. And if other families are doing something you believe is wrong or harmful, don’t get sucked into joining them, through peer pressure or the nagging of your children. Be kind but firm, and if necessary explain why to the children.’

b. Being a Parent Today.indd 10

27/03/2012 16:28


11

• ‘Hang in there when times are hard. You will look back and see that it was all worth it.’

‘I always try to pray about new and difficult situations. God always helps those who ask, even if it is in quiet and unexpected ways. As parents we will always need God’s help: the wisdom to make good decisions, and the generosity to keep loving.’

‘In your personal and professional decisions, test them by the effect they will have on your family. It’s true that you need personal space, and you should not be defined only in terms of being a parent. But your family and children should always be your first priority, and if something you are choosing harms them or makes life harder for them, you should be honest about this. Be careful not to put all your time and emotional energy into things outside the family.’

b. Being a Parent Today.indd 11

27/03/2012 16:28

Being a Parent Today  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you