Here is my latest Today’s Catholic column from the first week in January. The topic is the (now post-) Christmas season and private suffering.
Related, is When Your Prayer Life is Dry and You Face a Huge Challenge, appearing both in Today’s Catholic and Integrated Catholic Life.
If you like what you read on this blog, you may like my new book BIG HEARTED: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families with Patti Maguire Armstrong, amazing homeschool mother of TEN (!) including two adopted boys from Africa. (She adopted teenagers- how brave is that!? ) You can find information about her other books and beautiful family on her blog here.
Order BIG HEARTED straight from the publisher HERE (Kindle or hard copy), on Amazon or a bookstore near you!
You can read some reviews of the book on Stacy’s blog here.
Or Sue Elvis here.
Or my interview with Randy Hain of Integrated Catholic Life here.
If you want to PEEK inside you can do that too on the Amazon site.
God bless you and thank you for considering the purchase of this book. I hope it inspires you. Please write!
Yesterday I posted the first installment of Teenage Dating for Girls, and within hours I had more than 900 hits on the article. I take it that parents find this topic important. That makes me happy! Caring parents are looking for support and encouragement! Although our individual rules may differ, we are all concerned with providing guidelines and positive, proactive experiences for our daughters. We treasure them and want to make decisions that will help them grow into happy, healthy and holy young women, wives and mothers. I think that in talking about this, sticking together (not sure exactly what that means but I’m thinking it’s that we encourage one another to be countercultural and support one another’s efforts ) , and exchanging ideas in an understanding sincere way, we can help create the culture that will enable our children’s future marriages to grow and thrive in love, holiness and joy. Yay us! It’s a great first step.
The first ‘rule’ I mentioned yesterday was the importance of delayed dating. To briefly recap, studies have shown that early, regular one-on-one dating is an indicator for sexual involvement. Common sense also tells us it puts our girls at risk for emotional ups and downs and heartache as break ups inevitably occur. I shared:
1. No alone, one-on-one steady dating before age 18. You can hit the link above to read an explanation. Now let’s move on to some other suggestions.
2. If a young man is interested in getting to know our daughter, he should be willing to hang around our family.
We are all part of the larger whole that is called our family. Our views, thoughts, opinions are all formed within this unit, and we inherit not just physical characteristics from our parents, but often many emotional ones as well. It really is in the best interest of anyone who wants to be long term in the life of our daughter to get to know the people who have formed her, who cherish her, who know her well. Parents and siblings can provide guidance and input, offer support and alert a young woman to warning signs in prospective dates. Ideally, if the two do go out, the girl will also spend time with the young man’s family.
My own dad disliked one of my dates from the beginning when the fellow wouldn’t look him in the eye. Dad turned out to be right in regards to the guy’s character. I was frankly oblivious. Happily for all of us I didn’t see him for long.
Siblings and parents might pick up on things the young starry eyed girl may miss. This is not to say that a young suitor must be put through the wringer. Kindness and friendliness should abound. Understanding is a must too, and recognition that young people are forming and developing and no one is perfect, but a young person hoping to date our daughter must be willing to be here, with us, and engage with us. This doesn’t have to be formal or uncomfortable. He can simply join the family for dinner, play basketball on the driveway (with the brothers is ideal); he can chat around the table, play a game of cards with the siblings, sit on the porch and talk, join us in a family outing (bowling, movie, etc.). Sincerity of intentions and respect are of utmost importance.
3. If he wants to take our daughter to the prom or another school sponsored dance, they go in a group and he asks dad’s permission.
When I was 15, I took golf lessons at a country club. The golf pro had four sons, all good golfers themselves. The most talented of them all (okay, I’m biased- you’ll soon see why), who eventually ended up playing on the college team at Indiana University and in amateur tournaments including the British Amateur in Scotland, was a young man two and a half years older than me. His name was David.
David helped his dad give golf lessons, reminding us all to count all our strokes, follow through on our swings and replace our divots as a courtesy to the next golfer. This nearly 18 year old was a hard worker, toiling in the golf shop, picking up balls on the practice range and cleaning clubs for members. He was polite, honest and clean-cut. One summer evening as my dad was putting his golf clubs in the trunk David asked him if he could take me out. My dad, who had interacted with David at the golf course for several years and knew his character, said he’d love that…when I was older.
The fact that my future husband ( I married David) asked my father’s permission to date me irritated me at the time. (I first heard of his interest in me through my dad- how annoying is that for a 15 year old girl? ) The protectiveness seemed overbearing, and I was embarrassed, but as I grew older, eventually dated, loved and married that young man David, I came to see how right on he was to ask my father’s permission to date me. It has now become the gold standard in our family. My husband is an amazing man. But I digress…
Asking permission from the father to date a girl is right in so many ways. It demonstrates respect for the parents and family. It demonstrates respect for the girl. It demonstrates good intentions on the boy’s part. It recognizes that the girl is part of a larger universe- her family, and holds the boy and girl accountable for the serious business they are about to undertake- the business of courtship, with the intent to eventually find the right spouse.
Last spring, our 18 year old senior in high school daughter was asked to the prom. The young man (who will remain unnamed for his and her privacy) had been hanging around the house, getting to know all of us. There was some porch sitting, and driveway walking. We knew him through his after school work at a neighborhood store. The two attended the prom with a group. They had a very nice time although ultimately they determined they were not suited as a good match to date further. That’s okay. This is a process…for both of them. I respect and admire that young man for the respect and courage he demonstrated. He will be a fine husband to some young lady one day.
4. We teach our daughter that her date should open the door for her, pull out her chair for her, help her with her sweater or jacket as the temperature changes.
How does she learn this, you ask? While a simple reminder always helps, she innately knows because Dad has been demonstrating it all along, with her mother, her sisters and with her. (After 27 years I still do not open doors) These niceties become the norm for a girl who is treasured, and she expects to be treated like a lady. Conversely, she acts like a lady. She says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. She does not order items off the menu that may be too expensive or extravagant. She thanks her date for the meal, movie or other event of the evening. She knows that she does not owe him anything at the end of the night but gratitude and honesty. As long as we’re discussing what constitutes ladylike behavior, here are a few more things our daughter needs to know-
-A lady does not speak roughly or coarsely. Language like “That sucks” and “Yeah right” may be common in modern society but she refrains. She doesn’t sing modern vulgar songs, sit with her legs apart, chew gum chompily, gossip or speak unkindly of anyone. She isn’t loud or obnoxious. She doesn’t burp or pass gas in public, nor does she mention private bodily functions of any kind. (No “I have to pee” or things like that)
-A lady dresses modestly. She takes care of her appearance and is in style as much as she wishes, but watches to make sure her skirts are not too short, her blouse too low or her straps showing. An individual family initially sets this standard, but the daughter will ultimately determine it for herself.
It is true that our daughters are legally adult citizens at age 18. And they are legally free to live their lives as they see fit. However, through years of love and care and training, they come to know how much we want the best for them, and that our wisdom, gleaned through years of experience, is worth considering and embracing. What’s more, true adulthood and complete autonomy depends on complete financial responsibility- While our young adults live in our home, are being supported (in college or otherwise) financially, they need to abide by our rules. And they do. I’m really proud of them!
So far, we have had a wonderful, close relationship with them all.
And so, that concludes my thoughts for now. Except for this-
The feminists are going to have fun with this post if they get a read of it.
Oh well. 🙂
I hope this helps you as you discern what’s best for YOUR family and YOUR girls. I’m open to ideas, always wanting to improve. Please share below but please be respectful.
“When you snuggle up on the sofa with your child and open an old photo album, you are showing more to him than just a glimpse of the past. You are showing him a peek into his ancestry, his history, and giving him a sense of his special place in this world.”
Why and How to do it here-
(My latest on Integrated Catholic Life)
Thank you to Stefanie Shick in Nashville, TN over at “A Dreamer’s Wife” who interviewed me earlier this week about BIG HEARTED: Inspiring Stories for Everyday Families. HERE IT IS. Please check out Stefanie’s blog. Her husband is a talented musician. You can find his work here.
Here’s the adorable couple:
Stephanie and Adam Shick
Have a great weekend!
Here’s my latest over at Integrated Catholic Life: When Quantity Trumps
..Giving time is a challenge for sure. Beds must be made. Meals must be cooked. Clothes must be folded and clutter put away. Money must be earned to provide basic needs. But nothing is more important than scooping up the little one tugging at your sleeve, hugging her and showing her the bird perched out the window, and listening to the expressions of the little thoughts on her mind…
When children arrive home from school one of the parents needs to be there, waiting, ready for that quality time that might pop up anywhere, at any moment. Nothing says love like our presence…
I am happy to share with you that BIG HEARTED is available for pre-sale, just in time for Mother’s Day! I’m so excited to share this book with you. I enjoyed so much collecting the stories for this very personal book about loving and generosity in families. A little synopsis is below. Each story is self contained- you can start at the beginning, the end, or somewhere in between.
If you are interested, follow the link here to pre-order, for a 15 % discount off the retail price- only good until May 1 and just in time for Mother’s Day!
We have a new pope. He is humble and smart, generous, and loving. May his example inspire us all. How is the papacy relevant to me? a young person asked me yesterday. He is the hierarchy in Rome. I live my life here in the modern United States. My response is below:
At first glance, you may think that no, the election of a pope far away in another continent does not affect your daily life. You are still Catholic. You go to Mass each Sunday. You’re trying to live a good life and follow the tenets of the Church, swimming against a culture of death, and often a mockery of your beliefs. Day to day, nothing seems to change with the election of a new official in the Church. It might seem as though the new pope’s election doesn’t make much difference in your personal life. However, upon careful consideration, you will see that the papacy really does matter and affect you. The pope’s election DOES make a difference in yours and my personal lives. How?
FIRST, the election of Pope Francis has caused people everywhere- of every faith and denomination, to stop and consider what the Catholic Faith is all about.
People who never gave the Catholic Faith a second thought before, look and listen, if only out of curiosity, to find out what being Catholic really means.
No one could watch the election on TV with the camera’s poised in St. Peter’s Square, without being blown away by the regality, the formality, the beauty and the ancient traditions demonstrated as the Swiss guards in all their regalia made their way up to the front of where our new Pope Francis would emerge. News commentators were explaining why this or that was done… the truth is, people asked why because they truly cared. They wanted to know more. The election of the pope will affect YOU because people now are curious about your religion. YOU will be asked questions about your Faith. And this is an opportunity in your own way, in your own style to evangelize to others- to answer questions about the Faith and why it is important to you. You may even delve deeper into your Faith, ponder and investigate in order to answer these questions. This pope’s election in another time zone, another continent will impact your life here.
SECOND, the election of the pope brings Catholics together. His election is relevant because eternal Truths are relevant.
Looking out on St. Peter’s Square, we saw young people, families, religious, older people, all coming together in one Faith, to share the event of discovering together the new leader of the Catholic Church. The pope’s election binds us together. With the election of a new pope we are reminded of Jesus who said He will be with us even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). “I will not leave you orphans.” (John 14:18) The Truths of Jesus, first revealed in the Bible, will be preserved through the Church. Every one of us is called to be a living manifestation of that Truth. Whether we reside in a brownstone apartment building or high rise in the city, or in a simple home tucked away in a sleepy town, whether we are a recent college graduate starting off a career, or a mother raising a brood of children in the Midwest, we must live the tenets of the Faith and Gospel, in our own positions and states in life. The papacy is relevant because Jesus entrusted the Church to Peter, the first pope, and with the election of the next pope we are reassured that Jesus is present here and now, and that His Truths in this difficult world are eternal. The papacy is relevant because God’s Truths are relevant. Always. Even in 2013, in a global, technology saturated, modern, complex world…
Third, we have in our new pope a leader, a compass.
It is not any pope’s job or even within his ability to change the tenets of Faith, but our new pope can and will explain and focus on and highlight aspects of it. The papacy is relevant to you and me because the new pope gives us courage to live the Faith, ancient in origin, in the midst of a contemporary life. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman for the entire lifetime of the two. With a national divorce rate of around 50%, and not much difference within those who self identify as Catholics, our nation needs to be reminded of the truth of the sanctity and solemnity, sacredness, beauty and joy of authentic marriage. A pope, guardian of the Faith, reminds us of that.
In a world where children are discarded like garbage in bins, ripped from their mothers’ wombs (1.2 million abortions in 2008) , the Catholic Church says, No, every life from conception to natural death is precious and valuable.
This gives us courage to act in Faith and Love when we are met with a real face, the face of a woman facing a crisis pregnancy alone and who feels there is no place to turn.
The Catholic Faith is living, growing and alive! That’s hard to see sometimes when we are in our little corners, or living it alone, with lukewarm Catholics or agnostics or even atheists all around us. A good leader will stand up against the evils of secularism and disregard for marriage and life, and fortify us so that we can stand up in Faith too. A good leader can inspire us to bring vibrancy to our own Faith.
It is important to live our faith in a tangible way. The papacy is very relevant to us because Truth and the preservation of it in an increasingly selfish and secular world, is never outdated.