What did you do?!

I’ve been working on this post for over a month and realized it was turning into a book!  Rather than put readers through the torture of reading a VERY long post, I’m going to cover this subject in several installments.  Hope you’ll stick with me:

My husband and I have been asked this question on numerous occasions, by friends, family and parishioners at church.  We wish we had a magic formula that anyone could use, but it’s not that easy.  When it comes to how we raised our kids to be good, moral, faithful adults, a lot of things are involved.  We certainly are not perfect parents and we certainly would not say our kids are perfect.  A lot of people raise equally or even more amazing children, so we don’t have a monopoly on the market.  Much of it boils down to a few basics:  being willing to read, listen, learn and pray.  Plus when they were growing up (especially in their teens), we were the parents, they were the kids.

One of our goals for our son and daughter was to give them the confidence that they could come to us about anything.  No subject off limits, no wrong that couldn’t be fixed or forgiven.  So we started with this at very early ages.  For instance, when little ones bring up subjects that pertain to sex, we didn’t react with shock or embarrassment.  If they felt comfortable talking to us when they were young, it would be easier for them to feel that way as teens.  I remember when Eric was 4 or 5, he came up to me and giggled “I know what French kissing is.”  My internal dialog “How the heck does he even know those words go together.  What do I say?  Stay calm…..don’t act like a lunatic and scare the kid to death!”  Externally, I took a couple of deep breaths and remembered that the best way to handle this situation is to ask them a question.  So I asked him what HE thought it meant.  He proudly announced “It’s when a mom and dad kiss for a REALLY long time!”  I hugged him and said, “you are exactly right.”  Whew, dodged that bullet.  Instead of expounding on the meanings, good and bad points (and digging the hole even deeper), he told me what he knew and didn’t want any other information.  Note to self:  find out what they know and what they want to learn before giving them more information than is necessary or maybe even appropriate.

In elementary school, Eric’s class had the separate boy and girl talk about hygiene and very basic sex education (thank goodness this was before the more explicit lessons taught today!)  I asked for the information to be presented and felt it was appropriate for his age.  When I dropped him off at school that day, I encouraged him to behave during the discussions and if he had any questions or concerns, to ask me or his dad.  That afternoon, he hopped in the back seat and talked all about his day.  The subject of the special lesson never came up.  So I left it at that, figuring that evening at dinner he might broach the subject.  Not a word.  Same routine next afternoon, hopped in the back seat.  But this time he had a bit of a puzzled look on his face.  I asked him what was wrong and he said, “why did they keep talking about safe sex?  They never really explained it.”  So I reminded him of some of the previous discussions we had with him.  Then a light bulb went on!  “Why didn’t they just say ‘safe reproduction’? I would have known what they meant.”  To explain, he and his sister watched Nature and similar television shows with my husband.  Occasionally, the subject of reproduction was part of the programming, which inevitably led to questions.  I took the opportunity to talk about “safe sex” in terms of being married, not just treating it like a fun thing to do with just anyone.  Irresponsible sex could lead to diseases and unplanned pregnancy.  Anything beyond that really wasn’t necessary at a 4th or 5th grade level.

daddy date

A daughter keeps her father secretly wakeful, and worry over her robs him of sleep.        

Sirach 42:9 


How do girls know how they should be treated when dating?  And how do boys learn to be respectful of girls?  We read or heard somewhere (we are voracious readers and continuously work at learning more about our faith, parenting, personalities and so on – subject to address another day), that dads should take their daughters on dates and moms spend similar time with their boys.  We didn’t spend tons of money or do anything fancy.  We just wanted to be examples for them to follow.  The result:  Sarah is confident in her ability to set boundaries with boys (she’s in her 20’s but she stillcalls them “boys”).  Our favorite song for the longest time was Shania Twain’s “(If You’re Not in It for Love) I’m Outta Here!”  Eric is a gentleman, opening doors, being kind and treating women with respect.  When he was in high school, one of his teacher’s mentioned how unusual it was for a young man his age to consistently make a point of holding doors open for girls and teachers.  I didn’t see why it should be so notable, but she said I would be surprised how little of that occurs these days.

And his mother said,Eric

“Blessed be my son by the Lord.”      

Judges 17:2    


We are responsible first and foremost to teach our children about all aspects of life.  And ALL through their life, not just as they enter high school, or head off to college or before a wedding.

melting my heart

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.          Proverbs 22:6

To be continued…..

Humble Pie

They say the first step to resolving a problem is admitting there is one.  With the little bit of wisdom I’ve obtained over the years, I realize so much of my sin is a result of pride (first step.)  From the smallest piece of gossip to the largest thoughts of envy.  From thinking I am in control to wishing my life away.  All of these behaviors and more boil down to a lack of humility.  Wanting to be the center of attention, the one everybody loves and approves of, can all be ways of falling into pride.

We Americans are naturally a prideful people.  Plus we are bombarded with messages in school, advertising, movies, the workplace constantly telling us to be Number One, climb the ladder, do whatever makes us happy, win at any cost, strive for fame,  look the best, own the best, be the best.  Admittedly, not all pride is sinful.  But if we’re honest with ourselves,  it’s so much more difficult to react to situations with humility than pride!humility vs pride.jpbEven in my relationship with my husband, I find myself reacting to disagreements with the goal of proving I’m right!  Then I remember hearing “Do you want to be right or do you want to be married?”  You could also phrase it for any situation, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”  That doesn’t mean you roll over and play dead.  Being humble doesn’t mean you are weak.  It means you realize that compromise or “agreeing to disagree” is the wiser and more prudent way to handle times of disagreement.

A few years ago, I was honored with supporting a retreat team as spiritual director.  In order to keep myself in check, and keep us all focused on the task at hand, I used the mantra “It’s all about Him.”  Whenever we thought we had to have an amazing menu of food, or had to have creative and beautiful decorations, when we worried about music or timing or staffing, remembering we had to rely on the Holy Spirit and that “It’s all about Him” put things back in perspective.  To this day, when I find myself fretting or feeling hurt, wanting to be right or deflecting blame, I repeat that mantra.  It’s hard to be prideful with that thought in mind.

Worrying about what other people think seems to be most prevalent in us females, although I know a few men with the same insecurity.  We spend so much time thinking about ourselves, how can we possibly focus on the needs of others?  As Dale Carnegie wrote:  “People are not thinking about you and me or caring what is said about us, they are thinking about themselves — before breakfast, after breakfast, and right on until 10 minutes past midnight.” We need to realize what other people think is not important (they aren’t thinking about us anyway).  True humility is found in taking our eyes off ourselves and looking for ways to serve others.


Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.        1 Peter 3:8


My husband’s spiritual director recommended the following prayer and he passed it along to me.  The first time I read it, I cried.  Seriously, how could I ever begin to live up to any of these requests for humility?  My initial reaction was to just dismiss it and give up.  That was my pride – me in charge!  Instead, I taped it up to my bathroom mirror.   I was right; there is no way for me to live up to any of these on my own.  However, I pray this every morning with the assurance that God will give me the grace to achieve what I can and the forgiveness for what I cannot.