Intimacy Through the Lens of Fear (Part 2 of a Series)

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The fear of intimacy is neither rare nor new. Every person has this fear, though we experience it to different degrees.

Its root of course is a fear of rejection. As we raise our children, it is our constant challenge to love them unconditionally, so that they never feel rejected and don’t leave our home with so much emotional baggage that they cannot develop or sustain meaningful relationships as adults.

Thus it is beyond worrisome that so many of our young people today seem to be disproportionately afraid. While self-preservation is a natural instinct, taken to the extreme it can be debilitating and drastically affect our quality of life.

The fear manifests itself in myriad ways, and contribute to the crisis of humanity that’s our society today.

We have the crisis of manhood. (Thank you very much, radical feminism and misandry.)

We equate intimacy with sex, then compartmentalize and micromanage it to death. We depend on birth control and claim that we can divorce the act from the psyche, “no strings attached”. We resort to pornography and masturbation to get our physical “fix”. Anytime we need an emotional high we turn to one of our many virtual relationships. We delude ourselves into thinking we’ve unlocked the mystery of the other, but we often encourage falsehood and discourage authenticity.

We take shortcuts, choose efficiency via the swipe of a finger, except that efficiency and human relationships aren’t exactly a good mix. We insist on consent, as if consent frees us from being objectified and commodified. We use the terms power and winning in relation to sex, and ignore what we know in our hearts: that sex is anything BUT a game.

We get preoccupied with image, embrace worldly “perfection” and allow fantasy to grip us. We buy into the notion that we have unlimited time, unlimited health, unlimited number of people to have “relationships” with. We get sucked in by the illusion of control: hands on the keyboard, hands off reality. We convince ourselves that digital, ambient intimacy is good enough. Whereas there has always been a communication gap between the sexes where intimacy is concerned, technology has allowed us to widen that gap even further. In this age of Photoshop manipulation and Instagram filters, we wonder if we can ever truly bridge it. Still we shrug our shoulders and refuse to rock the boat, settling instead for status quo.

We go for superficial solutions, get comfortable with playing mind games, and wonder why the end result is still dissatisfaction. We feel used, abused, objectified, but we’ve distorted the language to describe what we’re going through, and the closest label we can find to summarize our experience is “rape culture”, so we go with that.

We welcome the attraction to distraction. Like birds that forget to fly south for the winter, we flit from tree to tree, seeking warmth where we can and failing that, comfort ourseves with the thought that there are billions of other birds just like us.

We end up desensitized, plagued with an inability to read each other’s cues. We get frustrated at being clueless about each other’s intentions and expectations, and yet exposing our authentic selves is just too emotionally taxing — who can afford to do that? So we decide we can’t talk about real needs and wants, and we either make hasty decisions, sweep problems under the rug, or we give up on dating/courtship/marriage altogether. (Or we marry a warehouse or a bridge or a robot, since real love and intimacy seem impossibly out of reach anyway.)

We hear the oft-spoken platitudes: love is not feeling, love is not emotion… but those ring hollow, because if it’s not those then what is it supposed to look like, sound like, feel like? We are told that love is a choice, love is a verb, love is self-sacrifice, and yet none of those ring true to us either, because we’ve made choices, we’ve done deeds, we’ve sacrificed our very bodies, yet we’ve come no closer to the truth.

We mistake intimacy as knowing what the other looks like underneath his or her clothes, when real intimacy is knowing what the other looks like underneath his or her fears. And we’re not sure we really want to know.

We look at married people around us, and see that they’re just as confused if not more so. If marriage is just more of the same, then why even bother? It’s scary enough now just breaking down these walls one brick at a time; how can marriage possibly be better?

More next time.


How a Culture of Distraction is Keeping Millennials from Marrying

The Gentle and Arduous Task of Shepherding Little Souls

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Yesterday after supper, the 6-year-old squeezed himself into the space between me and the back of the couch while I tried to catch up on reading. He does this often, using me alternately as pillow, footrest, jungle gym or whatever else suits his mood and restless muscles. It’s like having a cat except mine’s heavier, not furry, and talks. And doesn’t cause fits of sneezing. Usually he reads while I work, but last night after several minutes of performing his usual acrobatics beside, on, and around me, he got serious.

“What if I don’t remember my sins, Mommy?”

It took me a second to focus on what he was saying and recall that we were doing a bit of sacramental preparation the last couple of weeks, specifically Confession. To keep it simple, I had summarized it as “remembering your sins and telling them to the priest who is Jesus’ representative here on earth”. (It will be a while until his First Confession, so please pray for him.)

“I can give you a little notebook, and you can write them in there at night before we pray.”
“Can you write them down for me?”
“Sure.”

I started launching into an explanation of why it’s a good idea to recall our sins at night, so we can pray about them, ask God’s forgiveness, and ask for His help so that we don’t make the same mistakes the next day… but I hadn’t quite finished when he interrupted me, tearing up a bit.

“Kuya and I had a fight last night.” (Kuya = Big Brother in Filipino)

“Yes, you did.”
“I spat at him,” he said, looking very remorseful and sad.

So we covered apologies, and forgiveness, and trying again. And I told him about a close relative who used to do the same thing because it was one of the things he could do when he got into a fight, since being little meant being unable to land punches as effectively as a big person can.

We laughed a bit, but then he got serious and teary-eyed again.

“What if someone always makes you mad? And what do you do when someone kicks you?”

As I probed further, I found out that he had a fight with a friend on a recent camping trip, and the friend kicked him, and he kicked the boy back. Dad joined us briefly to discuss things in more detail, and to plan what needs to be done next: he will sit down with the boys face to face and get to the bottom of things, and give them some instruction so it doesn’t happen again. The boys had been roughhousing at the campout, as boys are wont to do, and there were adults around, but I guess no one noticed much that was of concern to them.

Except that my boy is a sensitive soul and he thinks about these things long after they’ve happened.

There’s the concern, of course, that the boy is a bit older and bigger than him, but I didn’t want to use the word “bully” because I didn’t want my child getting locked into labeling someone who, most likely, is also still learning how to manage emotions and control impulses. That the child belongs to a strong Christian family, friends of ours, puts our minds at ease too.

Beyond this, though, my child was concerned that this friend seems to know just what buttons to push, and that he often ends up getting angry.

I explained how certain people just manage to rub us the wrong way at times. And how there are things that need to be brought to the attention of adults right away, BUT that there are also things that we can choose NOT to get upset or offended about, and that there are unpleasant things in life we can learn to just let go, or avoid altogether if avoidance would be best for everyone concerned. I gave him suggestions on healthy ways to express anger that doesn’t hurt him or someone else. And we talked about how being angry or offended about too many things isn’t a good formula for happiness.

A few more minutes of hugging and reassuring and he was back to making fart jokes.

I’m sure my son doesn’t realize it, but as I’m shepherding his heart and soul, he shepherds mine. He has such a simple and profound way of looking at the world and the bottom line of things. It’s almost heartbreaking to see him grapple with these thoughts and concerns at such a young age, but I am also deeply, infinitely blessed by his musings. What a privilege and a responsibility to tend to the little ones in His flock. I am awed at the wonder of it, and humbled and grateful that God saw it fit to make me his mother. Thank You, Lord.

Today, as we celebrate the canonization of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, I pray that we parents take inspiration from them as we grow our own families. Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, pray for us!

Help! We’re having a baby! How do I homeschool the toddler/older child(ren)?

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[I wrote this post a year ago because a friend who was new to homeschooling AND was expecting a baby wanted to know how she could possibly homeschool when the demands on her time potentially could be endless. Reposting it for another friend who’s due with her fourth child soon and slightly panicking.]

The key thing to remember when you have a baby is to SET PRIORITIES.

#1 Priority: The Baby. Which means, YOU, the mom. You need to be getting sleep (with the understanding that moms don’t get a lot, but get as much as you can). Things that can help:

– Is dad going to be able to take off work? If he is, take advantage of that, and GET SLEEP. Cleaning the house, etc., can wait. Dad will need sleep too. Napping with baby on his chest? Awesome. That’s why all our kids are close to dad.

– If laundry needs doing, one load a day. Have older child help with sorting/folding. Good activity to do when baby’s napping.

#2 Priority: Food. Before baby is born, prepare freezer meals, at least a couple of weeks’ worth, so that all dad or older child(ren) will have to do is heat up food. Don’t stress it though. If you have to resort to freezer-to-microwave meals from the store, or Chinese, or fast food, or pizza delivery, that’s okay. You’re not going to keel over and die from fast food (not right away anyway [wink]).

#3 Priority: Homeschooling. I put this here because I know that’s your biggest worry, but I wanted to illustrate that it really should be last after the above are taken care of. Because homeschooling is LIFE. Our children will learn far more from LIVING life with a new baby than from any other formal lesson they’ll have about reading or math or science.

  • Children will learn that sometimes you just need to go with the flow. A baby, esp. the first few weeks of life, dictates the schedule. Build the rest of your day around the baby. When the baby naps, go nap with the older kids too. At the very least cuddle on the couch and read favorite books. Or older child reads to toddler. Work out things so you all have DOWN TIME or QUIET TIME once or twice a day. Put on some classical music or an audiobook for the older child to listen to. THIS WILL BE YOUR LITERATURE AND MUSIC LESSON.
  • There will be many areas of concern, but I want to address the 3 basics — food, clothing, shelter. Past the first couple of weeks, when life starts to normalize a bit more, get older child to help you cook. Simple meals only, or assembly type food items. THIS WILL BE YOUR READING, MATH AND SCIENCE LESSON. Learning to follow a recipe is an important life skill and it will carry on to other skills. Loading a dishwasher is also a lesson in Math/Geometry. Math worksheets (Singapore Math make them really colorful and fun) are great if you just want to make sure she’s practicing her computation skills.
  • Sorting clothes can be a lesson for the toddler. THIS IS A MATH SKILL. Sort clothes into piles (Dad, Mom, Big Sis, Me, Baby), Big Sis or mom folds.
  • Turn cleaning into a game. Sing songs and/or set a timer. “Let’s see how much clutter we can put away in five minutes!! Go!”
  • Live the liturgical year. Morning prayer, grace at meals, night prayer. Read a saint’s bio a day, talk about that saint’s life, what he/she did to become a saint. There’s your RELIGION LESSON.
  • Encourage your older child to keep a journal. This will take care of WRITING AND NARRATION SKILLS. If a child is not particularly fond of HANDwriting, require only a few sentences (depending on age and maturity). The rest can be done via computer, either the child keyboarding herself/himself, or record audio/video narrations.
  • STOP worrying about the AMOUNT of learning that’s going on, or covering a certain number of chapters per week. Much of learning isn’t measurable anyway. Just make sure you surround them with TRUE, GOOD, BEAUTIFUL. Strew good books around, on a variety of subjects. The child will pick up those books because THEY’RE ACCESSIBLE. Hang fine artwork around the house, even if it’s just postcards. OR, set up your screensaver to rotate artwork. You can do Matisse for a week, Monet for the next, etc.
  • Get out as much as you can, every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day. You’ll need fresh air and sun, and exercise. While you’re out, take note of things like the sky, trees around you, rocks, etc. RELIGION AND SCIENCE LESSON right there. If/when you can go out to a park or a nature trail, take a field guide or two with you, a magnifying glass, binoculars, so you can identify trees, leaves, birds, etc. Bring a small bag for adding a bit to a child’s rock or leaf collection, and a small journal plus pencils so they can document what they see/observe.
  • Grocery shopping = MATH LESSON. Also HEALTH — Why do we buy this item vs. that. Why this vegetable/fruit is good for you. Where do we get protein and why do we need it? etc.
  • If you can, WEAR BABY. This will do wonders in keeping him/her happy and you being able to do stuff around the house and making yourself available to the other kids.
  • The baby becomes the lesson! Borrow children’s books from the library on human development. One book I would recommend — Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman. (I can list more recommendations if you like.) Great time to talk about biology. TOB!
  • Let older child help out as much as he/she can. This will help dissipate any feelings of envy and give her a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
  • Do make sure that when Dad’s home and taking care of baby, that toddler and older child get LOTS of hug time, better if individually. What we’ve also done in the past is sometimes have Mom, older child and baby in the family bed, and dad and toddler in another bed. (These are just suggestions; I will not further address co-sleeping because every family is different.)
  • What’s most daunting, I think for most moms with toddlers, is keeping the toddler occupied. Rotate toys/manipulatives to keep them interesting. Duplo, wooden blocks, pattern blocks, large puzzles, playdough (make or buy these before baby comes), finger paints (outside so you don’t have to worry about cleanup), etc. If summer, a sandbox + diff. size cups, and water box outside will keep toddler occupied for hours. Even just a plastic container with a lid will do, you don’t have to get a real sandbox. Also, GOOD VIDEOS (i.e., Veggie Tales or educational ones) — don’t worry about having to resort to these if you need your nap. It’s not going to be forever!
  • Educational videos for the older child/children too ARE OKAY. There are so many available, you won’t run out! So it’s not ideal. So what? You’re also teaching FLEXIBILITY.
  • More than anything, just RELAX. When our kids see us taking life one day at a time, not majoring in the minors, not stressing over the petty things, THAT’S a valuable lesson. It teaches them how to trust and live in God’s grace and His perfect time. You can do this, Sis!!

Helicopter Parenting, Hypersexualization and College Readiness (Rethinking College 2)

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In my previous post, I suggested that perhaps college is no longer the best way to prepare our children for life and career, but while hypersexualized youth is a big problem, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to our young people’s cavalier attitude towards sex, there are a host of other problems that signify a real need for parents to sit up and pay attention, and find ways to reverse this trend.

Instead of college being the final springboard that will propel them to adulthood, our universities are becoming giant centers for babysitting whiny crybabies. Of course, psychological problems are not to be taken lightly or dismissed, and many are wounded, need medical care, and all the compassion that we as a community should provide. But it’s also clear that many things are now taken to extremes. As one Internet meme cheekily points out, “And one day for no particular reason we became offended by everything.”

There has to be a way to distinguish what will truly affect someone’s health and daily functioning, and what is simply part of life not being fair. A mature adult won’t see the latter as a stumbling block, but simply something to ignore or work through. Besides this, we also need to ask whether things are being censored to protect people from real harm, or to inhibit serious thought.

We know that the liberal arts are essential to education, and that the job of teachers is to liberate minds, not capture them. The combination of censorship plus indoctrination does not help students, and if all they’re doing is graduating from high school group-think to college group-think, then the whole purpose of education is defeated.

The Christian student who thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman truly believes that. The Jewish student who thinks Israel is a great country really believes that. And to my mind, stopping people from expressing things they truly believe is outrageous, an unspeakable offence against democracy, especially at a university, where ideas are meant to flow and crash and battle it out. – From Brendan O’Neill, Political Correctness is Killing Freedom of Speech

Even comedy on campus has taken a hit. The ability to relate, to laugh at oneself, to find humor in the absurd, to face the realities of life and not give in to despair — these are signs of maturity. Exposing young people to adult situations and problems, especially sex-related ones, coupled with the failure to teach them appropriate coping skills, is doing them more harm than good.

Overparenting or helicopter parenting seems to be a huge factor, but juxtapose that with the hypersexualization problem and the facts don’t quite add up. These kids are overparented AND YET hypersexualized?

My theory is that our current crop of college kids have been overparented in certain areas, and underparented in others, especially with regards to sex education. The Tax Foundation tells us that America has become a nation of dual-income working couples — the figures have hovered around 70% since the late ’80s. Since parents spend much of their days working, there is little time left for helping children navigate those tricky sexuality issues, so essential to their identity and well-being, especially around the pre-teen and teen years. Emotional connections in the home are necessary for those types of conversations to happen, and therefore not as easily achievable for parents with toxic work schedules. Instead, the overparenting is directed toward the measurable: schoolwork, grades, college plans.

Add to all that the perfectionism, materialism and commodification that afflict our society these days, the general view of education as product-not-process, and we end up with infantilized, risk-averse escapists who can’t handle what the world throws at them. While other factors — peers, the economy, personality, media exposure — play a role, our life/work decisions and how we parent our kids are areas we can work on to effect changes.

While homeschooling itself isn’t a solution for everyone, I’ve seen a few things that have worked in our family as well as others’:

Homeschoolers are often accused of micromanaging our children’s lives, and I’ll agree that it’s a reasonable view from someone on the outside looking in. But my observation is that if we homeschoolers do tend to micromanage anything, it’s not so much WHAT happens to our children as it is HOW they respond. Our conversations on parenting usually involve detailed advice on how to handle and correct attitudes and behavior: rudeness, impatience, and irritability, to name a few. Focusing on these things allows us to build character, and it is character that young people need so much of these days, and that will get them through life’s difficulties and challenges.

While we cannot protect our children from the pain or suffering that life inevitably brings, we can teach them, and model for them, that feeling overwhelmed, disappointed, sad, lonely, anxious, don’t have to be debilitating or permanent conditions. Our children need to develop autonomy not only materially, but emotionally as well. Planning and preparing well for college and life demands that we give this even more attention than we do courses or tuition.

More next time, including college cost, vocation, intellectual freedom, and college alternatives to consider.

Let’s Talk Submission, Part 2: Some Practical Suggestions

Miracle at Cana by Valerian Ruppert
Miracle at Cana by Valerian Ruppert

Let’s Talk Submission: Part 1
Let’s Talk Submission Part 3: Last Thoughts


We can do a lot towards rebuilding the husband’s role in our marriages:

  • We need to stop being control-freaks (speaking to myself here really) and let men take the lead whenever possible. Especially when it’s not life and death, or risking our children’s spiritual, emotional or physical well-being, then we can pick our battles and tame our tongues. Husbands have a natural need to be protector, defender and shepherd. It is by leading that my husband gains that confidence in his abilities to shepherd our family.
  • We can speak to each other with a respectful tone at all times, but especially in front of the children.
  • If I need my husband to take the leadership role on an important issue, simply telling him that that’s what we need from him and encouraging him can make a huge difference. This should not be difficult in a marriage where honesty and transparency are cultivated. I keep it straightforward: “I need you to take the lead on this.”
  • Presenting a united front when dealing with issues is key in teaching children the teamwork that goes into a marriage. Differences can be ironed out between spouses, in private. Children should not be made to feel like they have to take sides. What they need to see is that dad and mom are on the same page especially on things that may be confusing or troubling to them.
  • While discipline might require tag-teaming , the spouse who’s home the most plays the bigger role, just because he/she would have a better handle on habits that need correction, timeline of events, or whatever pertinent information there is. Whether it’s the husband or the wife is not the point. We have each other’s backs on everything, and reinforce whatever lessons we need to teach the children by referencing each other’s authority. Children need to see this interplay because it will be their pattern for when they have their own families.
  • Whenever a child questions my judgment, and especially if it’s a boy, I say, “Talk to Daddy when he gets home.” This demonstrates to my child that Dad’s viewpoint is necessary and important, something our sons need to internalize for the day when they need to lead their own household. If need be, I give Dad a summary via text or e-mail or a brief phone call, so he’s prepared to deal with it when he sees the child.
  • Consecration to Jesus through Mary helped me a lot in thinking these things through. Mary is our model for obedience. Of the very few quotes we have from her in Scripture, her speaking to Jesus at the Wedding at Cana shows a woman who brings her concerns to Christ but then lets Him take the lead, while she teaches others to “Do as He tells you.” Letting my husband lead doesn’t mean we say or do nothing. It means developing an awareness for what needs to happen in a situation, giving my husband a quick assessment of things from my view, and then letting him decide what action to take, if any.

    There will be times when we do need to take charge and grab the reins. My goal in my marriage is to make those times few and far between. I want to be a wife who has absolute confidence in my husband, and I want him to know it, and know it with a certainty that makes him believe in himself and his capabilities. Our husbands are under so much pressure these days to perform and to provide. On top of that, we have a culture that pulls him in so many different directions, putting temptations in his way. It should go without saying that we need to be praying for our husbands at all times, for him to not lose faith even in the face of failure and challenges. When he knows he can come home to a wife who trusts and believes in him, to children who see him as their mentor and guide, not someone who just metes out punishment when things have gone awry, his confidence in his ability to lead is magnified, and that’s exactly what we need to happen.

    Three weeks ago, my husband and I gave a talk to young Couples for Christ in Toronto. My talk was about “Becoming A Woman God Can Use” — God can’t use us when we don’t take the time to listen. As married women, God uses us THROUGH our marriages. And He can’t use us in rebuilding family when we are part of a culture that seeks to destroy manhood and men.

    Some last thoughts on this, tomorrow.


    Let’s Talk Submission: Part 1
    Let’s Talk Submission Part 3: Last Thoughts

Living Spiritually in a Material World

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One of the biggest challenges for families today is how to pursue happiness while at the same time develop the virtue of holy detachment. It’s the job of a lifetime for us, as individuals and as parents. With such easy access to one-click ordering and other conveniences, it can get difficult to maintain a spirit of simplicity and poverty. The ability to go without doesn’t get much press these days.

Read more here.

Sex Education in the Homeschool

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A homeschooling mom friend asked how we do sex ed in our homeschool, so I’m listing some suggestions:

Until age 10 or so, sex ed is pretty much “go with the flow” around here. Children are naturally curious and ask LOTS of questions related to bodies and nature, so we treat those much like we treat questions about the weather or bugs or trees. In the single digits, we usually give a simple answer and leave it at that. Children at that age, because of the simplicity of their thinking, aren’t usually looking for complicated answers.

Learning the words for body parts is a given, just like they learn the words for eyes and ears and feet at the age they need to learn them. Teaching hygiene is a non-stressful way to teach body parts. They also want to know about growing up, and they will sometimes ask direct questions, like “Will I have breasts when I’m big?” No big deal, you just answer with a yes or a no.

I told my girls about menstrual periods around age 10 or 11. Since they see pads in the linen closet and bras in the laundry, there really wasn’t much to explain, just that their bodies are changing and they’re becoming women. My husband took care of any boy questions.

Art and music are part of education, so in our field trips to museums they see nude art. We treat those just like any other art piece, talking about the artist’s technique, use of proportion, background, use of color, setting, etc. They see a healthy appreciation of the human body, a celebration of God’s creation without the hypersexualization that goes on in other media especially today. In contrast, whenever we watch a show together and there’s kissing or anything suggesting a sexual relationship between couples, we either comment (so our kids can evaluate and absorb our thought processes), or cover their eyes, or forward the scene. We do the same thing with violent or bloody scenes, up to a certain age. We do that for anything that, in our view as parents, they’re not ready for. This is so they can see practical application of practicing custody of the eyes and ears in real life. Past a certain age, it becomes their responsibility to decide whether to look at certain images or watch certain scenes or not. That’s really a maturity thing and will vary from child to child. Much of it also depends on what they’re exposed to on a daily basis.

The same thing applies to music. We expose the kids to as much classical music as possible starting from infancy. It’s relaxing, and like fine art they get exposed to beauty, so when they get pop music, they can immediately tell the difference. And when they hear the hypersexualized (like everything else) music/lyrics that we have these days, they also know to turn it off or switch stations.

We did try to read books like The Joyful Mysteries of Life, Mother’s Helper (for girls), and Listen Son (for boys), but to be honest even these Catholic-approved materials felt a bit unnatural for us to use. I found it easier to just read it myself and if I found anything that I haven’t covered, discussed it with the child in mostly informal, unplanned sessions.

Around puberty or pre-puberty, if a parent wants a formal sex ed program, my best recommendation would be Theology of the Body.

For the parent: St. John Paul II isn’t a saint for nothing. Read the original audiences. They will take some unpacking, so don’t hurry through them.

For the kids: There are teen courses on Theology of the Body.

Re group settings: The setup that worked best for us was small groups with parents involved. The main thing here is parent involvement, because we know (or should) where our child is in terms of sexual maturity and what he/she needs to know at this stage in life. When parents aren’t involved and you’ve got a mix of kids, you have no control over the exposure the other kids will have had and will bring into the conversation. Some will need more information and guidance than others. It’s best if the kids can have similar backgrounds so that they each get what they need out of it. An already sexually active kid will need different guidance from one who’s just starting to be aware of the opposite sex and/or has never been in a boy-girl relationship. Learning from peers is unavoidable at this age (for better or worse, and it’s the same rationale behind secular sex ed programs), but we want to make sure everyone gets what he or she needs without shortchanging or overwhelming the others.

Bottomline, we parents are capable of educating our children on sex, we’ve just been intimidated by the secular approach that says it should be left to the professionals.

I promise to say more in Part 2.

Shepherding Our Domestic Church

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Continuing my series over at Fathers for Good. This week, I talk about parenting.

Through homeschooling we’ve embraced a lifestyle that allows us to spend time with our children. Since we don’t operate on “quality time” mentality, we don’t have to cram “the perfect” into a few choice moments – time together can be spontaneous and organic even when there’s stress involved.

As the kids grew up, we developed our own disciplining style and found a good balance between rewards for good behavior, and punishment via curtailing of privileges. Heart-to-heart talks are priceless life-savers for us. Because we try hard to be in tune with the Holy Spirit, we are able to identify when we are beset with spiritual attacks and other distractions from our mission. We often remind each other to go back to the basics: kindness, silence, Eucharistic adoration, Confession, Mass.

Life Lessons from a Game of Chess

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Two weeks ago, I beat my six-year-old at chess. At first I worried if I should let him win some of the time, but after talking it over with hubby and mom friends, decided not to go easy on him. That’s how we did it with the older kids, but I needed a refresher course on parenting.

We want to spare our children from pain but we cannot live in a bubble and be overprotective either. Our children have to learn how to lose gracefully. There are also lessons here for me, the parent: how do I build his character without crushing his spirit?

That same week, I came across this article , which led me to the microaggression site. [blink] I didn’t even know that was a thing. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a homeschooler isolated from the world: you end up being unaware of the million things you could/should get offended about.

I’m not trivializing people’s pain. But looking at that list and this other article on Buzzfeed (21 Racial Microaggressions You Hear On A Daily Basis) made me think back to when I was 18. My cousin and I were at a drugstore paying for our purchases, and the cashier asked to see the contents of my purse. She thought I was shoplifting. I cried afterwards and was bothered for a while: was it because I was Asian? Was it because I looked like I was 12 and/or didn’t have a job?

If that incident happened today, many would be advising me to file a lawsuit, or to take it to social media. And honestly I probably would be tempted to do that, since we have so many channels now to get our story heard and to get others to sympathize. In 1986, I simply had to get over it. Twenty-nine years later, I can look back and evaluate the situation from all angles: perhaps whatever prejudices that cashier had stemmed from her background or experience. I can live with that.

We encounter all kinds of negative stimuli, and we need the ability to react in a healthy manner. This sounds unsympathetic, but I’m not sure what to make of people who seem to be allergic to any type of emotional pain, and who tend to equate every little suffering with trauma. We shouldn’t tolerate bullying, but there has to be balance between taking offense and figuring out what’s intentional, what’s not, and what we need to demand an apology for, if at all. Each situation is different: context, people involved, age, personality — all come into play. Today there are too many imagined ills and manufactured human rights. Andrew Klavan puts things into perspective.

LIFE IS NOT FAIR: Is this still an acceptable message these days?

It’s ironic that the more global and the more “diversified” we get, the more racist we get, or the more we perceive racism directed at us. The longer the list of genders gets, the more sexual micro aggression complaints we hear about. Vive la différence is supposed to teach us how to be kinder and more understanding and accepting. Instead it’s turned into a ME fest. The more we demand fairness, the less we understand what it is.

Just really thinking aloud here, as I don’t have answers — mostly questions and a bunch of half-baked theories.

Maybe all this is tied to the breakdown of the family. Within the family we do not have to artificially set up situations where our child can experience pain, big and small; it’s part of life. When we magnify slights and daily disappointments, we fail to recognize real suffering when we see it. We train ourselves to withstand pain only on the surface. A child whining could mean he needs attention, but there are times when what the child really needs to hear is, “Get over it.” My personal microaggression complaint? As homeschoolers we get accused of sheltering our kids all the time, and yet we’re surrounded by whiners who weren’t homeschooled. Heh.

We try to teach our kids to apologize when they happen to offend someone, even if it wasn’t their intention to offend. We don’t need more lawsuits; we need more kindness. And while we model how to not take things lying down, we also model resignation, acceptance, and prayer, all of which develop our spiritual muscles. While babies need us to help them handle their emotions, eventually they learn to rely on themselves, and ultimately to rely on God. “I can do this” isn’t arrogance, and “I can do this, with God’s help” isn’t weakness. Teaching our kids how to carry their crosses well is a kindness too. The saints, after all, had to endure much.

Oh, my six-year-old beat me at chess a few days ago.

Now, if I could file a complaint somewhere about God putting mosquitoes and spiders on this earth and contributing to my paranoia, I’ll be good.

Vaccination Needs to Remain a Prudential Decision

vaccination

Do you know how hard it is to be a parent these days? Oh goodness. The multitude of decisions we need to make on a daily basis, ON TOP of just living daily life and deciding what’s for dinner. To illustrate, today’s parent is often confronted with these choices:

– Food: Organic or Not, From Scratch or with “Helpers”?
– Organic Food: 100% Organic, or __% Organic?
– Cleaning: Store-bought Cleansers or DIY?
– Containers: BPA-Free or Not?
– Microwaves: To Use or Not to Use?
– Canned Goods: Lined or Not Lined?
– Diapers: Cloth or Disposable, Diaper Service or Launder Yourself, Organic Cotton or Regular?
– Infants: Breastmilk or Bottlefeed, Wean or Self-Wean?
– Water: Filtered or Unfiltered?
– Filtered Water: Reverse Osmosis or Over the Counter or Pur?
– Clothes: Synthetic Fiber or Natural?
– Allergies: Stay Away 100% from Allergens or Try to Develop/Rebuild Immunity Gradually?
– Education: Public, Private, or Homeschool?
– Homeschooling: Unschooling, Eclectic, Classical, Waldorf, Online, Offline, Charlotte Mason, Boxed Curriculum, Self-Designed? (AAAAARGH.)
– Essential Oils: To Use or Not to Use?
– Using Essential Ois: DoTerra, YoungLiving, Plant Therapy, etc., etc., etc.?
– Laundry: Storebought detergent or DIY?
– Beef: Grass-Fed or Not?
– Milk: To Drink or Not To Drink? Raw or Not?
– Deodorant: Store-Bought or DIY?
– DIY Deodorant: Use Baking Soda or Not?
– Fat: What’s Healthy and Not Healthy?
– Oils: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Regular Olive Oil, Lite Olive Oil, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Cold-Pressed Oil, Regular Butter, Organic Butter, Ghee, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Peanut Oil, Canola Oil, LARD, Lard from Pastured Pigs, etc., etc., etc.
– Diet: Paleo, Whole30, Fasting, Gluten-Free, Feingold, Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw?
– Yogurt: Storebought or DIY, Greek or Regular, Dairy or Non-Dairy?
– Carbs: Bad or Good?
– Wheat: Bad or Good?
– Cellphones: Dumbphone, Smartphone, or No Phone?
– Smartphones: Android, iPhones, No Label?
– Cellphones: Made in China or Not? (same thing with sneakers, jeans, toys, glue, paints, books, etc., etc., etc.)
– Television: To watch or not?
– Entertainment: Cable, Netflix, Amazon Streaming, DVDs, YouTube? Chromecast or Not?
– Video Games: I’m not even going to do a list for this.
– Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facetime, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc., etc., or nothing? Or what age?

OH MY GOSH. Make it stop already.

And then of course, the biggest issue of the past week or so: VACCINATIONS.

We need to stop and LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE.

Here’s the thing: There are educated people on both sides of the divide. There are people who do endless research about these matters, on both sides of the divide. There are LOVING, CARING PARENTS on both sides of the divide. There are FAITHFUL CATHOLICS on both sides of the divide.

You may say that most of the issues I listed above aren’t matters of life and death. Are you sure? 🙂 That’s another argument for another post. Assuming that it’s true though, as Catholics, we do worry about the WHOLE person. How about mental, emotional, spiritual disease? The point is that we can argue about EVERYTHING and about how our choices might impact others’ children. (While I’m at it, we’ve spent so much time arguing about this, while Christians are still being slaughtered, young girls are still being raped and becoming victims of trafficking, and babies are still aborted at the rate of thousands daily.)

The only reason this is such a major topic is because we’re on social media (yeah, me included). There are thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions) of people out there who don’t have access to social media or just don’t care what we say here. Right now, I kinda wanna join those people, stick my fingers in my ears and sing lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala.

Reading this, you would not know whether my kids are vaccinated or not, or whether some are and the others aren’t, or which ones got more or less. You will just have to guess, because as a parent, that’s a choice I get to make, that’s information I get to keep, and I don’t think it’s anyone’s right to know unless I choose to tell them. My husband and I get to pick which risks are acceptable to our family or not, just like you get to pick what’s acceptable for yours. Why we need to get in people’s faces about this is beyond me.

Parenting is hard enough, and we’re making it even harder for everyone. We can argue about how our decisions as a family will affect another family’s health. But I’m all for parents keeping the right to decide what’s best to do for their children. The alternative, impinging on parental rights, simply isn’t acceptable. Are we forgetting all the threats to parental rights that exist these days?

I’ll tell you this: in our small circle of moms here where I live, there are moms who vaccinate their kids, and moms who don’t. There are those of us who have vaccinated and the kids are fine for the most part. There are those of us who vaccinated and the kids have significant health problems. There are those of us who didn’t vaccinate. We ALL agonize over our decisions, past and present, BUT we ALL respect each other’s decisions. We ALL let our kids play with each other. Our families hang around each other, and we practice prudence with our own families when children are sick. We practice KINDNESS, something that seems to be in shortage these days.

The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: “charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1832

Last thought: “nice” is different from “kind”. Prayers for all.

Recommended Reading:
Let’s Be Reasonable About Vaccines
Will Smugness Encourage Vaccination
Parental Rights Overshadowed By

Further Up and Further In: The Adventure of Raising Catholic Teens

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I started this post days ago. A discussion at the 4Real forums called my attention to this article, and I quickly typed up some notes — things I wanted to cover in response. That very night, with this post still in my drafts folder, I got a long email from our daughter, detailing how she was in a slump physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. She was still going to daily Mass, but she was starting to buckle under the weight.

We went on a dad-mom-daughter date at the first opportunity. She is now back on the mend, making changes — general and specific — in her life. She’s a young adult and adult things are still new to her, so we’re here to nudge when she starts going off on a tangent, to bring her back to the main road.

As our kids grow, the parent-child relationship becomes even more essential to their developing relationship with God as ultimate authority in their lives. I’d like to propose that this giving over of themselves to God comes so much easier when their heart has been molded in the home. Holding on to my children’s hearts has been my guiding principle these teen years. (I currently have three, ages 13, 16 and 18.)

Every family, every parent-child dynamic varies from home to home. We’ve always tried to keep our hearts open to each other. We’ve had the one-on-one and the two-on-one talks behind closed doors, in the car, in a café, in the parking lot of the church. And I’ve done everything I can in these moments with our children to express exactly what’s in my heart and mind, holding back nothing. I’ve also encouraged the hubby to do the same, though I know it can be hard for men to do that, and that it’s really only necessary in the rare case when a child has no clue where dad is coming from. Our talks always work best when dad remains the unemotional, rational, cool and logical one, even if I dissolve into tears.

So many young people today struggle with living in this world. I don’t want to take Melody’s post apart and say well, she could have done this instead of that, or did more of this than that. Raising Catholic children today *is* hard, and we’re all just trying our best.

When I got my daughter’s e-mail, I was reminded that we are not exactly out of the woods yet, and that my journey as parent isn’t over and won’t be until I leave this earth. So I may offer some words of wisdom here and there but the best that I have is “take all these with a grain of salt”, because while I know the answers up to this point with this particular child in this particular instance, something may happen next week, next month, next year, that will bring me back to “I know nothing.”

But isn’t that how God works? You think you’ve mastered a game, but then you find that there’s a more complicated game surrounding it. You think you’re in an adventure, and then you take one step further and you find that you were actually wrapped up in another, bigger one. Further up and further in, Lewis said in The Chronicles of Narnia. When Lucy thought she was playing hide and seek, and then ended up in that Wardrobe, that’s when the real adventure began. And then for the reader to find out that Narnia isn’t THE world but part of a bigger world, and even one of many worlds… that’s what parenting Catholic teens is really like.

And so we can talk about practicalities, and dos and don’ts, but as long as we don’t forget the big picture of why we’re here, and why we picked and stuck with homeschooling, I believe we’ll be fine. Homeschooling doesn’t completely immunize us from the effects of the culture of death, but I think we get a running start from being aware in the first place that there ARE things out there — some of them very dangerous, and no, we won’t ever be able to shield our children from these 100%, but I don’t think that’s what we’re all about anyway. I would say it’s almost a necessity for them to experience some of these things, for them to be the light that they need to be.

We’re not being helicopter parents — whatever that means — when we give our children the tools that they need to navigate the world they live in. I make my opinions known on just about everything — their clothes, their friends, the activities they choose — but around high school that’s when I gradually let go and let them make those decisions for themselves. So they stumble, and they get hurt, and it does get very painful especially when our hearts are tethered so tightly to theirs. But keeping them away from mistakes and pain only hurts them in the long run. They will be the beautiful testaments to God’s plan that they ought to be, when they’ve also been tested by fire.

The thing about community is that you find it where you are able, but in those times when you can’t, then maybe it’s the season for online friendships, and for cocooning with the family. We’ve homeschooled and raised kids in several states and briefly in the Philippines and Italy. I can’t say that there’s one ideal place to raise kids because they’d be surrounded by faithful Catholic friends and community. Sure, some areas were better than others, but we always had to come back to how we lived and loved in the home. As long as I’m able to know each child deeply, know where his or her heart is, know where he or she is spiritually at any given time, then I’m at peace. Yes, there have been difficulties, like the one time I didn’t think a child would stop lying to me, or that one time I thought one of my kids would grow to be an atheist because of personality/behavioral flaws, or the one time a child was getting too close to people that I couldn’t exactly call Godly…. but we need to take these things in stride. The reason those things are allowed to happen is so that we know exactly how to pray for each one.

We do a lot of bouncing thoughts off of each other at the dinner table. We share views of the world, of people, of relationships. Through this they absorb more of our world view, how we look at things, how we handle what happens to us, how we struggle to keep our eyes and our feet directed towards True North as much we can. Each child gets the benefit of hearing from parents, older siblings, younger siblings. We hash out a lot here.

Would that our faith and our children’s hold as steady and ever-bright as the sun, but we know that too often they’re more like the flicker of a candle. We tend to it and try to protect it from getting blown out, but we have limits. As we grow older, we kinda need to lose our faith — the faith planted in us by our parents — and then find it again and own it. We cannot set our kids purposely on that path. There might be times when they’ll have to touch that darkness with the tip of their finger, to figure out that they want no part of it. Through circumstances or through their own mistakes, or through ours, they will let go of pieces of the whole that we’ve imparted to them, but like pieces of a puzzle long disappeared into basement storage boxes, when found, make us feel like it’s Christmas in July. Sometimes things — pleasant and otherwise — have to happen, for them to realize that they have the faith to sustain them through everything, including the trials. It was kept in store, maybe even hidden from their own consciousness, a treasure buried inside them that they aren’t always aware of, but it surfaces right when the need is there. This is how they learn how to hear God’s voice in their lives, in their own ears and in their hearts.

Prayers for all of us parents!!

Homosexuality and Real Solutions

sexualrevolution

In Part 1, I talked about the band-aid solutions offered by popular culture being inadequate to address the prevention of same-sex attraction/homosexuality itself.

Speaking to those causes listed by the Catholic Medical Association, I’d like to make the following suggestions, based on 22+ years of parenting experience, the collective wisdom of the parents and fellow Catholics I’ve networked with over the years, and books/authors that I’ve/we’ve read and that helped us in our parenting journey.

  • Parents need to learn how to be parents. If you come from a family where you weren’t exposed to positive parenting, network with like-minded parents who can give you information and guidance. Don’t be afraid to look at fruits. If they have kids who are polite, seem to be well-rounded and well-adjusted, have a positive outlook in life, are even-mannered, these are indications that the parents are doing something right. Ask them what they do. Your faith community would be a good place to start networking with other parents. There are family programs out there — look for them. One example is CFC-FFL. If you’ve got a homeschooling network in your community, that may be a good place to start as well; homeschooling parents tend to be very committed to their roles as children’s primary educators. Even if you don’t homeschool, you can learn a lot from them.
  • Parents need to be secure in their own sexuality. Network with parents who are clear examples of authentic femininity or masculinity, and who are not afraid or apologetic about their womanliness or manliness.
  • Addressing physical separation: For Catholics, I think it is essential that we educate ourselves on Catholic Social Doctrine. Children should not have to endure prolonged physical separation from their parents. Unfortunately, many are forced to endure this because of work. I think that one of the solutions we need to talk about as a society is how to bring the parent home. If this is an unavoidable situation, then the parent who stays home with the child needs to find suitable mentors within the community, within a parent network, within the Church, where children can be exposed to positive role models. Of course, this can be tricky especially in the current moral climate, so remaining ever-vigilant is key.
  • Many of the statements I’ve seen from LGBT reveal destructive behaviors of the father — abandoning the family, “starting over” with a second family, being an alcoholic, exposing children to pornography, etc. In one news article I read, a father beat up his own son after the son revealed that he was homosexual. These are parental behaviors that need to stop.
  • Parents, your children need to see you being affectionate with each other. It is in the home that they are first exposed to healthy expressions of love for each other — if mom and dad aren’t modeling these behaviors, where would they learn? We are educating our children with our actions, even more so than with our words.
  • Don’t skimp on physical expressions of love for your children. Hugs are spiritual and emotional vitamins, they need them on a daily basis. We give each other back rubs here at home; they do the spirit good.
  • Don’t forget four essential words/phrases: Please, Thank You, Sorry, I Love You. Say them often, say them and mean them. (If you think about it, these are the same sentiments found in the Lord’s Prayer, except we’re addressing them to our Heavenly Father.)
  • A shoring up of marriage and family is sorely needed. Develop an awareness of what’s happening globally in relation to parental rights and traditional marriage. There are many laws being proposed and advanced that undermine marriage and family. Our help is needed if we are going to stem the tide.
  • The parent-child connection needs to be established early on. One way to do this is to support/practice breastfeeding. Learn about Attachment Parenting. Network/share ideas with parents who practice this as well. Filipinos are naturals at this since it’s usually the way we were raised (family bed, close ties, etc.).
  • Addictions like alcoholism or substance abuse need to be addressed professionally. These are highly destructive to the family and will likely start/perpetuate a cycle that could have dire consequences.
  • Commit to spending time together as a family. Family dinners are a great way to connect with everyone at the end of the day. Guard this time fiercely. There should be nothing interrupting it like social media (cell phones at the table are a no-no).
  • Be picky about your friends and about your children’s friends. There is nothing wrong with this. You don’t choose to be friends with everyone, do you? Teach your kids to choose wisely.
    From Colleen Hammond:  http://www.colleenhammond.com/
    Used with permission, from Colleen Hammond: http://www.colleenhammond.com/
  • Read good parenting books, such as Hold On to Your Kids. More info here. You can listen to the first chapter here. Below are sample videos of the authors. You can find more on YouTube.

  • Be careful what you allow into your home. If you wouldn’t allow a prostitute into your home, there should be no reason you allow pornography into your home. If you are viewing pornography on your computer and you think your kids aren’t seeing you, think again. If you don’t want your child to read a certain book, or watch a certain movie, or listen to a certain song, ask yourself, what makes it right for ME to read/watch/listen to it?
  • Pray, pray, pray. Teach your children the power of prayer. Cultivate the habit of prayer in them by praying a family Rosary nightly, for instance. Say grace at meals.
  • Let them fall in love with the saints. They are powerful examples of people who chose to swim against the tide, often at great odds, to follow Christ. They will not lead your children astray.
  • Protect your child from harmful teasing, either from yourself, from siblings, or from other people. Teasing has different effects on children, depending on their particular sensitivities, personality, temperament. Some teasing can actually be perceived as a subtle form of bullying. Avoid inflicting emotional hurt; often these have the most devastating effects of all. A helpful book — life-changing, really — about learning to be a kinder, gentler parent is The Hidden Power of Kindness. If your child comes to you with a complaint that he is being teased, discuss ways on how he/she can respond; if necessary, talk to the parent of the teaser. That is your job.
  • Learn appropriate ways of expressing anger. I tend to be a yeller, so over the years, I’ve had to learn to tame this monster. I still have occasional outbursts; it’s something that needs to be worked on constantly. For Catholics, prayer, the Sacraments, getting to know the saints, are all immensely beneficial. If necessary, seek professional help.
  • Read up. There’s no reason in this information age not to be able to find help to help you improve your parenting skills. Fathers for Good is a good website. So are Catholic Mothers Online and Catholic Mom. There are many others.
  • Remember that your children are not yours, they are on loan from God. They are not your mini-me, and their personal journey will probably look very different from yours. They will make mistakes, just like you.
  • If you find you need to change something in yourself or your child, focus on one behavior at a time. If, let’s say, you go out and drink on a weekly basis with your friends, consider cutting that time down to once a month so you can spend more time with your children. Parents should ideally be spending the bulk of their time with family anyway, but I see this phenomenon happening everywhere, where parents still act like they’re singles even when there are children needing their time and attention. Know that how much time you spend your children will have lasting effects on their psyche.
  • If you don’t seem to have the communication skills necessary to effectively communicate with and parent your child, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk is a classic that has helped countless parents. Some of it will come naturally to you, others will take work. At some point after you practice the skills in the book, you’ll find a way to personalize the techniques and make them your own.
  • When talking to your kids, speak from the heart. Nothing touches your child quite like knowing that you’ve been where they are. Share your sufferings from when you were young, tell them how you coped. If you’ve suffered from same-sex attraction, been addicted to pornography, etc., figure out a time when you can talk to your child about these things — you know best when they’re psychologically, mentally, spiritually prepared for that talk. But don’t wait until it’s too late.
  • Find wholesome ways to occupy your time. Sports are good. If your child isn’t interested in team sports, consider an individual sport like martial arts, where they can go at their own pace.
  • Find out and cultivate your child’s interests. If you can find a common interest you can pursue together, so much the better. In our home, it’s been martial arts and scouting. Find ways to bond outside the home.
  • Demonstrate moderation and self-control; your kids are watching you. Watch for addictive tendencies and behaviors.
  • Early on, encourage a positive view of the human body and sexuality. How you talk about sexual topics will affect how they see things. Catholic parents need to immerse themselves in the teachings found in JPII’s Theology of the Body. Talking about the beauty and sacredness of sex in marriage is not something we should be shying away from as parents, so if we don’t have the language or terminology to address these issues adequately, then this needs to become priority ASAP. There are way too many people out there eager to educate our children on things we are not willing or ready to educate them on.
  • Lastly, unconditional love and acceptance of children. This should go without saying, but sadly, very much forgotten today. Whatever problems our kids have to go through — bullying, a mean teacher, peer pressure, same-sex attraction, etc., we need to establish a relationship with them BEFORE THE PROBLEMS COME, so that WE are the first people they approach for help. We need to be their first line of defense.

Essential Reading:

Gravissimum Educationis
Divini Illius Magistri
Casti Connubii

Related Post: 100 Ways to Rebuild the Culture of Life

The BSA Policy: One Step Forward, Two Giant Steps Back

Source: http://blogs.momaha.com/2013/01/31182/
Source: http://blogs.momaha.com/2013/01/31182/

Any discussion of child sexual abuse is difficult enough. In today’s moral climate, add homosexuality to the mix and the conversation instantly turns pricklier, and it’s tempting to just shut up. Hardly anyone wants to touch this baby, not with a ten-foot pole. But silence doesn’t solve anything, and can even make things worse, as the history of BSA shows.

In 2012, the Boy Scouts of America was ordered by the courts to release information on 1200 abuse cases that occurred under BSA’s watch between 1965 and 1985. Those files were hidden for decades, and the BSA reportedly destroyed many more to keep things under wraps.

A majority of those, if not all, were cases of homosexual abuse, but the word “homosexual” never made it to mainstream media. We all instinctively know that child abuse is abhorrent, but conditioned by LGBT propaganda over the years, we immediately recoil at any hint of labeling male-to-male abuse as “homosexual”, lest we be accused of being homophobes or bigots. These abuses were presented to the public under the blanket term “child sexual abuse”, pedophilia, or simply “child abuse”. The only homosexual abuse that ever counts as far as the media and the LGBT crowd are concerned, are those where homosexuals are the victims.

By helping to bury the reality about these cases, the BSA effectively accomplished two things: 1) they retained a reputation for being a moral stronghold for boys growing into manhood, and 2) they made themselves unlikely protectors of this particular kind of abuse, and hence vulnerable to eventual pressure from the very people the secrecy protects. But any type of male-to-male abuse, while classifiable as pedophilia depending on the age of the victim, needs to be classified homosexual as well, since homosexuality by its very definition pertains to attraction to and engaging in sexual activity with people of one’s own sex. The CDC refers to any male-to-male sex as homosexual or bisexual: never heterosexual. Note also that by definition, most Boy Scouts would be past the age where abuse could still be classified as pedophilia. Many of these victims weren’t necessarily seen as children by their abusers.

Psychotherapist Kali Munro offers a defense of the victims that most of us can agree with: Victims of homosexual abuse aren’t necessarily gay. He takes great pains to make readers understand the depth of injustice that victims face. We can agree: prejudice of this sort is unacceptable and does nothing but victimize these children a second time. However, in referring to homophobia, Munro cleverly leaves perpetrators out of the picture. While it’s true that we shouldn’t be labeling the victims homosexual, what about the perpetrators? [cue crickets]

For decades, the BSA reputation was given priority over the protection of scouts. It wasn’t until 1987, when the Youth Protection Training program was established, that changes were made in the right direction. All scout leaders today have to go through it, and the program is comprehensive, to a point. It still only addresses adult-to-youth contact, touches only ever so briefly on the very real danger of youth-to-youth abuse. It also hasn’t been able to prevent abuse completely, as recent cases show:

From Boy Scouts Forced To Reveal Scope Of Abuse:

The previously private records show the Boy Scouts have ejected at least 5,100 adult leaders nationwide for sexual abuse allegations since 1946. And the files reveal that despite efforts to keep potential abusers from joining, the problems persist: In the past 15 years alone, the organization has kicked out leaders for such allegations at a rate of once every other day.

With the policy that takes effect in January 2014, the BSA took two giant steps back and renounced the commitment they made to protect boys. Several items crying out for attention:

1. Youth-to-youth abuse happens.

Do Children Abuse Other Children? Yes.

2. There is such a thing as a cycle of abuse.

Cycle of Child Sexual Abuse: Links Between Being a Victim and Becoming a Perpetrator
Adolescent Sexual Aggression: Risk and Protective Factors

What steps are we taking to ensure that none of our boys even get initiated into that cycle?

3. There are predators who were just waiting for the policy change to happen.

1992 NAMBLA Letter to the Boy Scouts. If you’ve never heard about NAMBLA, click here. Try to stop yourself from being shocked.

4. Grooming is a valid concern and can involve either adult-to-youth or youth-to-youth interactions, or both.

From Boy Scouts’ confidential files show pattern of ‘grooming behavior’ in molesters:

Many suspected molesters engaged in what psychologists today call “grooming behavior,” a gradual seduction in which predators lavish children with attention, favors and gifts.

The organization released a prepared statement by Mike Johnson, the organization’s national youth protection director, who underscored the difficulty in identifying predators before they strike.

Beginning in the early 1990s, some experts on the Scouts’ youth safety advisory panel urged the organization to study the files for patterns, but they were ignored, according to two of the experts.

The problem here is that the LGBT crowd has built up such a fortress around themselves as to make themselves virtually untouchable! There isn’t a Child Abusers Pride Parade. Hiding these abuses under an umbrella term of “child abuse”, when there are clear connections to homosexuality being hidden from view, serves neither the boys who are abused nor the homosexual abuser who needs help.

Whatever it was the BSA decided they needed to protect the boys against has not ceased to exist. There is no legitimate reason to relax on the rules they’ve decided were necessary to protect boys. Inasmuch as the BSA saw fit to provide for separate sleeping facilities and latrines for boys vs. girls and youth vs. adults, they should foresee that introducing a third sex/gender (for those self-identified, “open and avowed” homosexuals) presents the same situations that were inherently problematic to having shared facilities between opposite sexes in the first place.

In addition, there are important points to consider:

Once a child is abused, that’s innocence lost forever. No, we can’t be hating on the gays, especially since we know that many of them were abused to begin with. But that doesn’t mean we should welcome with open arms any situation that puts our boys at risk, especially, I would argue, these days when there is HEIGHTENED risk for not only physical harm but spiritual harm. Those of us who chose to disassociate ourselves and our families from Scouting may be labelled paranoid nutsos, but the continuous degradation of morality in this country calls for us to make necessary judgments, even if it means we make errors on the side of caution.

Where does the cycle of abuse begin? It takes just one misguided individual.

Where does the cycle of abuse end? It ends with us, if we have the courage to stop it from taking place.

Additional Reading:

Sexual Abuse of Males: Prevalence, Possible Lasting Effects and Resources from Dr. Jim Hopper, Researcher and Therapist with a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.


Previous Related Post: Betrayed in the Name of Tolerance
Next up: The BSA Policy change and the Catholic response.

An End-Of-Year Examination of Conscience for the Family

prayer

Continued from this post on Raising Pro-Life Children Amid A Culture of Death.

There are many versions of an examination of conscience out there. I wrote this for our family, but I share this here in case it might be helpful to anyone else.

Are we praying more?
Have we committed to praying the Rosary?
Do we pray it with reverence, or do we hurry through it?
Have we made our Consecration? (Do we know about Consecration?)
Have we read one encyclical that we hadn’t read a year ago?
Have we brought anyone into the Church? Have we invited a former Catholic to Mass?
Have we shared our faith with other people, not via argumentation, but via genuine friendship? (Excellent food for thought from my friend Angie.)
Are we giving more to charitable causes?
Have we spent time with the sick, the hungry, the elderly?
Have we tried curbing our own materialistic tendencies?
Do we tithe?
Have we read the Catechism more closely?
Did we have, adopt, or sponsor a(nother) child?
Did we support traditional marriage?
Do we read Scripture daily?
Do we pray with the Church via the Liturgy of the Hours?
Have we tried to attend Mass more than once a week?
How often do we go to Confession?
How often do we go to Adoration?
Have we practiced custody of the eyes and ears?
How much of traditional media do we still consume?
Have we read a devotional or spiritual book that we hadn’t read a year ago?
How often do we fast?
Has LOVE been our one encompassing goal in all that we do?
Have we prayed for vocations to religious life? Have we considered our own vocations?
Do we pray and encourage our children’s vocations?
Do we pray for our children’s future spouses?
Did we take time to learn more about at least ONE saint?
Have we given more attention and support to Catholic media?
Do we spend at least 15 minutes daily in silence with the Lord?
Have we practiced holy detachment more fully?
Have we committed to a hopeful attitude and not one of despair?
Have we volunteered our time/talent at our local parish?
Have we praised God daily and seen the blessing in every little thing, including our crosses?
Did we take our time to get to know our pastor/vicar more fully?
Have we gone on pilgrimage?
Have we gone on retreat?
Have we talked to our children and our spouse about faith matters?
Do we take our roles as primary faith educators of our children seriously?
(Husband) Am I the spiritual leader of my household?
(Wife) Have I submitted to my husband?
Have we prayed a novena?
Have we taken time to understand the social doctrine of the church?
Have we been truly thankful for our blessings?

More helpful links:

An Examination of Conscience for Pro-Life groups
An Examination of Conscience for Parents, from Mark Shea

(another work-in-progress, will revisit quarterly)