Are We Ready to Stop Hating on Ballet Yet?

Monday, July 31, 2017


There is something that is really bugging me on the internet. It has become popular to hate on dance, and ballet in particular, with the argument that ballet is not safe for our children to participate in from a body image and sexualizition standpoint.

I have been in ballet starting from the age of 4, mostly took a break in college, and came back after my second child was born. I have enrolled my son in ballet this past year and he will continue into a boys program this year. I have seen a lot of dance schools, styles, teachers, and dancers. Professionals, the professional aspiring, students, and just-dancing-for-fun people.

I cringe when I hear that parents are avoiding letting their children participate in dance because they "want them to have a healthy body image." Especially when the follow up is "do sports instead!" Y'all, sports are not an immunization against negative body image. It may even be worse if parents assume that sports are safe thus they don't need to be looking out for negative body image or a distorted relationship with food or exercise.

Sexism, sexual exploitation, and "competitive thinness" are all very real issues in sports, and even more so for female athletes. Parents assuming soccer or volleyball will be immune to such issues only makes it a better primed environment for exploitation.

I have known a lot of very serious athletes. They also train extremely hard, struggle with the physical and mental demands of their sport, and see the good and the bad in their sport.

The common denominator between the bad experiences is that they happen when parents, and athletes/dancers, sign onto a team, a dance school, a program without doing their own legwork to see if it would be a good fit.

Please do not assume something that was a good fit for your friend will be a good fit for you. Instructors change, coaches change, teammates change. If parents do not take the time to check into the particular class/team their child will be enrolled in, then reality can be wildly different from your expectations.

It is being a smart consumer to check it out before you sign up, but also to check in with the class instructor/coach and your kid as the year progresses. Attend any observation days. Know what goes on in a typical class/practice.
I am not saying be a helicopter parent. Anyone who has ever taught a class with little kids can tell you there is a balance between being involved and being overbearing. I am saying to pay attention.

If your kid wants to take a ballet class and you have never been to the ballet or taken a class yourself, please try and educate yourself about the dance world. If you do not understand what is and is not normal for a class at your child's level, it will be very hard to express your concerns or combat negative situations.

Ultimately parents have to make the right call for their own child, but enough with letting a bad experience taint your perspective of an entire art form.

**************
On Wednesday I'll have a post on healthy body positivity, my perspective as a adult in ballet without a stereotypical "ballerina body", and navigating puberty in front of a mirror.
Come continue the discussion!




Wonderfully Made - Alejandra's Story

Friday, July 28, 2017

It's NFP Awareness Week! This year I am sharing stories from women who learned NFP methods while single. Single women often get left out of discussions of Natural Family Planning, but there are great benefits to be reaped for them too. It's time to hear some of their stories!



1. Tell us a little about yourself.


My name is Alejandra, and I’m originally from southern California, but am now living in Oakland in the Bay Area. I just recently became a licensed Architect – hooray! Believe it or not, you can’t just call yourself an Architect right out of university, and I had to pass seven national exams and one state exam over two years to earn that professional title, so I’m pretty proud! I’m currently working at a high-end residential firm in Emeryville that does beautiful work in this area. 

I speak three languages – Spanish, English, and Italian – because my mom is from Chile and I studied abroad in Italy. I’m forever grateful to my mom for making sure we were bilingual from the start – languages are one of my passions! In my spare time, I love to cook and bake, work in my garden, spend time at the beach, hike in the Oakland redwoods (or anywhere for that matter – we are blessed with so many natural gems here in the Bay Area!), read, draw and paint, hang out with friends, and most of all, horseback ride. I’ve recently become an equestrian and I take English riding lessons here in the Oakland redwoods. There is nothing more wonderful than being out there with the horses… Unless it’s snuggling with my two adorable goddaughters of course!



2. How did you hear about NFP?



I’m I guess what you might call a “cradle Catholic,” in that I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school all my life, so I do vaguely remember learning about NFP, at least as a concept, during middle school and high school. I was aware it was out there, but didn’t know the details, especially because I always assumed it was just for families or married couples, so I wrote it off in my mind as not applicable toward my current state of life.

Later, when I was already living and working here in the Bay Area, a dear friend of mine introduced me to JPII’s Theology of the Body. The more I read up on it, and the more I started reading the incredibly beautiful ways that JPII talked about man and woman, the “feminine genius,” and his reflections on the body in terms of the ordering of love and our existence in connection with God and Love, the more I started seeing the connections between Theology of the Body and NFP.

Around the same time, another very dear friend of mine was starting her own family and pregnant with her second daughter, and she began explaining to me the details about taking her temperature, charting, and how it all helped her and her husband either conceive or avoid pregnancy in a natural and faith-filled way. She suggested an app that helps record this information and generates a visual chart, and so I was encouraged to begin charting myself!



3. How did you pick a method?                         


At first, I didn’t really know what I was doing other than waking up at 7:00am to faithfully record my temperature on this app each morning – however, the app also has a handy “Knowledge Base” section that answers all the basic questions about charting your cycle and what it means. Through this, I was able to gain some basic knowledge about basal body temperature, temperature shifts, the luteal and follicular phases, hormones, etc. 


I was fascinated! However, it wasn’t until a priest friend of mine personally called me up one day, and said that there was a woman offering Creighton Model classes at his parish, that I started getting serious about a particular method. He was trying to specifically enlist as many young, single women as he knew to take the classes with her, because he believed in its importance before young women get married (or even if they never do!), even as having a basic, positive health benefit. What a blessing that call was (and what a wonderful priest!), because I enlisted for the classes, which were private, one-on-one classes that helped teach the basic concepts of the Creighton Method and also helped me chart through several cycles until I got the hang of it. The Creighton Model does not utilize temperature, but rather a very detailed charting of daily mucus, in order to understand a woman’s fertility, cycle, and general health. It’s truly amazing how intricate, integrated, and synchronized our bodies are, and how much they tell us! We only have to learn and listen.


4. What has been your greatest challenge?

They say that with knowledge comes great responsibility, right? I would say my greatest challenge has been finding out that there are perhaps some “irregular” or “not ideal” things about my cycle. Ever since I began my period as a teenager, I have always had very heavy bleeding and most times very painful cramping. In high school, I dealt with this by taking evening primrose oil, a natural oil that is known to help regulate your cycle and alleviate or even eliminate painful cramping. It did for some years, but it has found its way back. Ever since I have begun charting, I’ve noticed certain things like the appearance of mucus when a woman typically wouldn’t have any, and other “red flags.” Charting prompted me to go see a Catholic OB-GYN in the area who reads charts, and after having to get some blood tests done (ick), she has been able to see some of these irregularities as well as low levels of hormones, among other things. And what’s amazing is that just by reading my charts and checking out my blood tests, she discovered several other things that were “low” in my body. 



Now, I’m the type of person that magnifies every worst possible situation (I’m permanently infertile! I have some crazy disease! I’ll never be able to have babies!), so while it was quite a challenge, and even sometimes terrifying, to “find out” about these issues and hear potentially “bad news” – at the same time, I have to say that it has been also a positive thing, because not only do I now know about these issues, but I can also work on fixing them by natural means, like vitamin supplements or honing my diet to my body’s needs. And ladies, we’re not just talking about focusing on my fertility – there are now some general health items that have been uncovered that I can improve in my body, so that it is working to its fullest potential all-around! And I wouldn’t have known about them had I not started charting, and I am thankful to be working on these issues before I meet someone. It’s like getting a head start - How cool is that?!


5. What has been your favorite benefit?


Apart from getting to know my body better, and turning my energy toward improving it so that it is healthy and works to its greatest potential, I’d say some of the greatest benefits have been empowerment, humility, and gratitude. I understand my body and how it works in a way that I had never known before, and this has given me an incredible appreciation for God’s genius in creation. 



How beautiful, how intricate, how perfectly engineered and wonderfully made is the female body… the human body! As a single woman, this appreciation and healthy love for my body I think contributes to my understanding of who I am, who God created me to be, and how he wants me to use my gifts. It’s part of that grand search for meaning, and it most certainly reflects the great Love our Lord has for each one of us. 



Check out the previous posts in this series:



Know Thyself - Kate's Story

Thursday, July 27, 2017

It's NFP Awareness Week! This year I am sharing stories from women who learned NFP methods while single. Single women often get left out of discussions of Natural Family Planning, but there are great benefits to be reaped for them too. It's time to hear some of their stories!


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Kate, 41 years old, never married, cradle Catholic.  I have been a school librarian for about nine years since changing careers from the legal field.  I live just outside of Philadelphia in the suburbs, not far from where I grew up.  My parents have been married for over 46 years and I have an older brother and a younger sister, both of whom are married—so I am a happy auntie to five wonderful nephews (oldest is 19/youngest is 4 months) and one fantastic niece (almost 13!).

How did you hear about NFP?

I feel like I kind of had the basics as a high schooler. . . My 9th grade religion teacher alluded to it (“Some days the toilet paper goes whoop!”) and my mom (oldest of seven children) shared one of the straightforward pieces of wisdom her mother was famous for: “Sex equals babies.” (Meaning don’t do it if you’re not ready to be a parent.)

My college dorm mates talked about how their parents were involved with the Couple-to-Couple League (CCL) and that was very interesting to me, to see how others taught and supported each other with marriage and families.  In my 20s, I helped a struggling couple connect with CCL as a result of my college friends’ information.

Then, a few years ago, I joined up with the Not Alone Singles group, full of such lovely women with incredible devotion to their faith.  I looked around at a few blogs and saw that Jen at Jumping in Puddles wrote a post about why she charts and that got me curious.

How did you pick a method?


 In 2015, I was in a relationship that really seemed to be headed toward marriage.  We both shared in that longing to have children, and I didn’t want to be blindsided with having to take a crash course right before getting married.  (Turns out I didn’t have to be that worried, as that relationship ended unexpectedly late last year, but I am still grateful for what else has come into my life as a result.)  I connected with the Friends of Fertility Care of Philadelphia and was referred to an information session.  Turns out I was the only single person attending, but the session was fascinating and full of things that went beyond what I really understood about human biology.  The session also talked about NaPro Technology and what I now know is the Creighton Model of charting fertility.  I signed up for individual instruction and it really didn’t take long to get the hang of observing and charting thanks to my very caring educator.

What has been your greatest challenge?

My greatest challenge is probably to hold my tongue and control my annoyance when people talk so casually about IVF and chemical and artificial means of birth control as if it does nothing to their bodies and souls.  I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, just more like, well, I don’t really know how to “evangelize” NFP (and honestly I wish it had a better name! God laughs at our “plans,” doesn’t He?) as a single person—do I really have the authority?--even though sometimes I want to shout from the rooftops how great it is and how many people have had this great information completely hidden from them or just brushed aside.

What has been your greatest benefit?

I think I would have to say that there are actually two really great benefits that I have gotten from doing all this.  The first is that I really got to understand myself and how much a role my cycle plays in my life, how it affects me.  The second is that my educator noticed something unusual in my charts and referred me to a smart, caring, pro-life, Catholic gynecologist.  (No more raised eyebrow/cynical remarks about my “activity” or lack thereof.)  I’m being treated for a hormone deficiency and it has given me hope that I don’t always have to feel miserable with PMS, and maybe, just maybe, I still have hope of becoming a mom in the near future.  (Still praying and working to meet the man God has picked out for me.)


Come back tomorrow for Wonderfully Made - Alejandra's Story.

Check out the previous posts in this series:


Finding FEMM - Brie's Story

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It's NFP Awareness Week! This year I am sharing stories from women who learned NFP methods while single. Single women often get left out of discussions of Natural Family Planning, but there are great benefits to be reaped for them too. It's time to hear some of their stories!

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm Brie Jastrebski. I grew up in Chicago, IL in a loving Catholic family. Formed by experiences in my faith, community and education, I felt the desire to serve others both individually and also on a macro level. After college I spent time in service with FOCUS then began working in NYC at a NGO devoted to the dignity of the human person. It was there that I discovered FEMM – a women’s health program that I’ve dedicated the last 6 years of my life to.


2. How did you hear about NFP?

Growing up in a faithful Catholic family, it seems I was always familiar with NFP. However, my understanding was that this wasn’t something I needed to really understand or be attentive to until I was approaching marriage. This perspective changed through my journey to and discovery of FEMM.


3. How did you pick a method?

As a woman surrounded by numerous girlfriends, I’ve long been acutely aware of the myriads of health and emotional difficulties that women encounter – all related to their cycles and reproductive health. So many of my friends were/are prescribed hormonal contraception by their doctors, to deal with symptoms like irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, pain, acne, mood swings, etc. Not one of these women wanted to be putting these hormones in their bodies, but they weren’t offered any other choices.

I was convicted that women deserved more than the medical options that were available to us. Providentially, I discovered a small group of women and physicians who were looking to provide women & girls with education and health care that respected their inherent dignity. I joined them to help develop and launch FEMM, a women’s health program that offers much deserved education and authentic, whole-woman health care options.

Developing FEMM, we were able to ask ourselves:
1. What do women really need to know about their bodies?
2. How can we help them achieve optimal health and their fertility goals?

What I love about FEMM is that it gives a comprehensive look at the science behind what is going on in our bodies, both physiology and hormones. I learned what is normal and healthy for a woman’s cycles & symptoms, and what patterns or symptoms could be signs of a hormonal imbalance or ovulatory dysfunction and cause future health problems and fertility complications. FEMM is also at the forefront of medical research on women’s reproductive endocrinology and trains doctors in the most advanced medical management protocols – so that women now have access to real treatment options. I also love that FEMM has a charting app that makes tracking your cycle so simple – the app gives feedback about your hormones and health, based on the data that you input.


4. What has been your greatest challenge?

 At the beginning, a big challenge was simply motivation to chart every day. When your reasons for charting are better care of yourself and understanding your body, it can be a temptation to just let it go. However, understanding how charting could help me to recognize signs of hormonal dysfunction, give me confidence in my health and manage my future fertility was inspiration enough to plug away at it. Once I was familiar with my body and my biomarkers and had made a habit of charting, it became no longer a chore but just another part of my day.


5. What has been your favorite benefit? 

Using FEMM as a single woman has really empowered me to be more confident in my health and my fertility. I understand what my hormones are doing each month. I can practice more self-care at times when I know I usually experience certain symptoms. It has changed the way I understand my body and how my lifestyle impacts it –I can see my biomarkers/cycles change depending on whether I’m exercising, eating well, stressed etc. It is a huge blessing not to wonder if what I am experiencing is normal and healthy and also to know that I have the best medical resources available to me if something does appear to indicate a deeper problem.

FEMM taught me that all women & girls (not just those who are married or engaged) need this knowledge about their bodies – it’s science and it’s our life! This type of body literacy is tremendously empowering & necessary. I love that I can now help provide these resources other women.


Learn more about FEMM on their website, download the app, or check out this video!





Come back tomorrow for Know Thyself - Kate's Story.

Check out the previous posts in this series:


Embracing the Beautiful Body - Claire's Story


NFP For Every Body - Susie's Story



NFP For Every Body - Susie's Story

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

It's NFP Awareness Week! This year I am sharing stories from women who learned NFP methods while single. Single women often get left out of discussions of Natural Family Planning, but there are great benefits to be reaped for them too. It's time to hear some of their stories!


Tell us a little about yourself.


I'm in my early 30s and single. I grew up in Colorado, but have also lived elsewhere which I feel gives me the qualifications necessary to claim Colorado as the best place to live. :) I have a theology degree from Notre Dame (go Irish!) and an MTS from the John Paul II Institute in DC, and now work admin at a small Catholic non-profit that helps evangelize lay Catholics. One of my favorite things to do is take my dog on walks. I also love hiking (like most good Coloradans), knitting, games, listening to 80s music and movie scores, and watching my favorite movies and TV shows (Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite go-tos). I have three siblings - two older, one younger - and they're all married to great people. I also have three nephews so far, who are lots of fun and two of whom I'm blessed to have as godsons, and I am also godmother to one of my dearest friend's daughter.


How did you hear about NFP?

I had heard about NFP for many years, having grown up a cradle Catholic. I didn't think about it much until I was older, of course, and it was through studying the Church's teaching on sexuality and marriage that strengthened my faith while I was in college - and those teachings were also was the driving force that led me to the specific graduate program I attended. I've known for years that single women can and should learn NFP for various reasons, and it was always one of those things I kept meaning to do but never followed through. I knew some basics of some of the methods and sort of kept an eye on things at a very basic level, but it wasn't really at all like doing actual charting.

How did you pick a method? 

A couple of years ago I started to notice that some things seemed off from what they should be, and I thought that I would contact someone about charting to see if I was just being overly sensitive or if something was actually going on. Once again, though, I didn't follow through for almost another year, but in the meantime I went to see a doctor and found out I had a large cyst on one of my ovaries that needed to be surgically removed. There was a relatively brief but scary time between finding out and having the surgery when they said there was a possibility that the cyst could be cancerous (praise God it was not!), but it turned out that I had a pretty advanced case of endometriosis, which I never would have suspected based on what I thought were the typical endometriosis symptoms I had heard about before (mainly pain). I had no idea there were other symptoms I had noticed that could have also pointed to endometriosis if I had known more about it and about my symptoms.

Because of several factors, the surgeon ended up removing the ovary along with the cyst. Being in my 30s and single, but still desiring marriage and children, I was (and, admittedly, sometimes still am) pretty fearful about having only one ovary left and a diagnosis of a disease that isn't understood very well and can cause infertility among other things. That was enough of a push for me to choose the Creighton model of NFP, which works closely with NaPro Technology and seems to be more recommended for women who are charting for health reasons like mine. Because I'm not using it to achieve or avoid pregnancy, but to know better what's going on with my cycle and hormones, it seems to be the best method for me right now.


What has been your greatest challenge?

My greatest challenge with NFP and charting is that it's something I always have to think about - and there are times, especially after using it for a year, I admit that it seems pointless for me to keep doing. I know it's good information to have now, and to have solid experience with if I ever do get married. I also know that it's helpful in general awareness of what my body is doing, including being able to treat the fact that I have low progesterone which my doctor suspected due to my charts. There are days, though, when I get tired of it. But there are lots of symptoms and other things that can show up that I possibly wouldn't notice if I weren't specifically and intentionally charting, and having knowledge about the way our bodies work is powerful. Which brings me to...

What has been your favorite benefit?  

The greatest benefit to me has been being able to look at my chart and realize why my moods might be seemingly out of proportion, or why I'm feeling certain physical symptoms. Knowing that allows me to take a step back and re-center myself in some ways. It's also helped me see how my cycles respond to certain medications, which is good information to have.

Another *huge* benefit has been being able to encourage other young women to look into charting their cycles, and my hope is that someday this is something that might be regularly taught to teenagers, because I think it is so important for girls to understand from the very beginning. Many people still have a lot of misconceptions about charting and NFP, but it's a blessing to be able to say firsthand that it's something that has helped me physically and definitely could have helped me even more had I started years ago.

It's not just a requirement to get through in order to be married in the Catholic Church, and it's not something that only those who are married or who are trying to conceive or avoid a pregnancy should be doing. Our bodies were made beautifully but also very complex, and this is an amazing tool to help us understand ourselves even better - and I can say that with certainty now that I've actually learned it myself!


Come back tomorrow for Finding FEMM - Brie's Story.

Also check out the previous post in this series:


Embracing the Beautiful Body - Claire's Story

Monday, July 24, 2017

It's NFP Awareness Week! This year I am sharing stories from women who learned NFP methods while single. Single women often get left out of discussions of Natural Family Planning, but there are great benefits to be reaped for them too. It's time to hear some of their stories!




My name is Claire Ellendson.  I am a 21-year-old birth doula, NET Ministries alumni, and life-long Catholic.  I grew up being an older sister of a large family where I could see firsthand the beauty and purpose of God's design for fertility in my own family as we welcomed each of my younger siblings with joy and gratitude.  As I grew older however, I began to believe the lies from the world convincing me that my body was my greatest asset in attaining love. My body became to me a hopeless disaster, with a few redeeming qualities. 

Despite my consistent and faithful formation, my hatred for myself intensified from constant competition with my peers for the attention of men.  My mindset on my fertility was utilitarian. I thought that it was a thing that I probably wouldn't address until I was at least engaged.

God truly used my discovery of my own reproductive health as an avenue out of my own self-hatred and towards His divine truth.  I remember having earth-shaking menstrual cramps one day and demanded to know what the heck was happening with my body. I was blown away by how intricate and purposeful nature of my cycle. I was hooked on exploring more about the subliminal glory of how thoughtfully my body was gifted to me by God. I was lead to NFP though my pursuit of knowledge and practical application. Although I am not married or having sex, knowing what is happening with my fertility is a consistent reminder to me of the Lord's perpetuating gift of life.



I track my cycle using The Billings method mostly because it focuses on each aspect of what makes tracking my fertility useful to me as a single woman. This method teaches how to note and communicate changes with my body with a vocabulary which is easily utilized in my current stage of life (neither trying to achieve or avoid pregnancy). The goal of this is to understand the pattern of my fertility and to be aware of any irregularity. 



The greatest grace in my own journey of discovering NFP has been the redemptive effect that it has had on my own view of sexuality and womanhood.  For being such a sex-obsessed culture, so few have any level of intuition on how the female body works. Overcoming shame or misunderstanding about NFP or related topics is simplified by conversation and the God-given power of reason. It has been such a gift to me to be able to enter into conversations with women, as well as recognize beauty in how my own body is made.


Come back tomorrow for NFP For Every Body - Susie's Story.

NFP and the Single Woman

Friday, July 21, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes!



1

It's that time of year again - NFP Awareness Week starts next week! This year I've decided to do things a little differently. When I looked at NFP materials, advertising, blogs, etc. there was consistently a specific voice missing: the single woman's. 

That's frustrating. Married people do not have a monopoly on NFP, and it can certainly be of benefit to single women! 
NFP is not solely about achieving or avoiding pregnancy. At its heart, NFP is about learning your individual body and why it does what it does. There is an amazing amount of misinformation out there about what is, and is not, normal when it comes to women's health. Why not encourage more women to learn about their bodies?

So instead of interviewing NFP couples, this year I sought out single women willing to share their stories of learning NFP. Let's meet the five brave women!

2

Claire



I am a 21-year-old birth doula, NET Ministries alumni, and life-long Catholic.  I grew up being an older sister of a large family where I could see firsthand the beauty and purpose of God's design for fertility in my own family as we welcomed each of my younger siblings with joy and gratitude.  As I grew older however, I began to believe the lies from the world convincing me that my body was my greatest asset in attaining love. My body became to me a hopeless disaster, with a few redeeming qualities. 

3

Susie



I'm in my early 30s and single. I grew up in Colorado, but have also lived elsewhere which I feel gives me the qualifications necessary to claim Colorado as the best place to live. :) I have a theology degree from Notre Dame (go Irish!) and an MTS from the John Paul II Institute in DC, and now work admin at a small Catholic non-profit that helps evangelize lay Catholics. One of my favorite things to do is take my dog on walks. I also love hiking (like most good Coloradans), knitting, games, listening to 80s music and movie scores, and watching my favorite movies and TV shows (Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite go-tos). I have three siblings - two older, one younger - and they're all married to great people. I also have three nephews so far, who are lots of fun and two of whom I'm blessed to have as godsons, and I am also godmother to one of my dearest friend's daughter.


4

Brie



 I grew up in Chicago, IL in a loving Catholic family. Formed by experiences in my faith, community and education, I felt the desire to serve others both individually and also on a macro level. After college I spent time in service with FOCUS then began working in NYC at a NGO devoted to the dignity of the human person. It was there that I discovered FEMM – a women’s health program that I’ve dedicated the last 6 years of my life to.

5

Kate



I’m Kate, 41 years old, never married, cradle Catholic.  I have been a school librarian for about nine years since changing careers from the legal field.  I live just outside of Philadelphia in the suburbs, not far from where I grew up.  My parents have been married for over 46 years and I have an older brother and a younger sister, both of whom are married—so I am a happy auntie to five wonderful nephews (oldest is 19/youngest is 4 months) and one fantastic niece (almost 13!).
Read more of her story here!

6

Alejandra



My name is Alejandra, and I’m originally from southern California, but am now living in Oakland in the Bay Area. I just recently became a licensed Architect – hooray! Believe it or not, you can’t just call yourself an Architect right out of university, and I had to pass seven national exams and one state exam over two years to earn that professional title, so I’m pretty proud! I’m currently working at a high-end residential firm in Emeryville that does beautiful work in this area. 

I speak three languages – Spanish, English, and Italian – because my mom is from Chile and I studied abroad in Italy. I’m forever grateful to my mom for making sure we were bilingual from the start – languages are one of my passions! In my spare time, I love to cook and bake, work in my garden, spend time at the beach, hike in the Oakland redwoods (or anywhere for that matter – we are blessed with so many natural gems here in the Bay Area!), read, draw and paint, hang out with friends, and most of all, horseback ride. I’ve recently become an equestrian and I take English riding lessons here in the Oakland redwoods. There is nothing more wonderful than being out there with the horses… Unless it’s snuggling with my two adorable goddaughters of course!

7


Check back every day next week to read their full stories!

Maybe It's Not Just About the Kids - Becoming a Catholic Parent

Tuesday, July 18, 2017




What does it mean to raise Catholic kids? I think it has more to do with forming Catholic parents first.

You know the saying "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"? This is a part of parenting in which that is especially true - and also one where many are tempted to pretend it is not true. The reality is we can do x, y, z as perfect Catholic parents, but there is still no guarantee that we will get Catholic adults out of our kids.

There is no magic bullet for success in this challenge, however there is hope.

The best thing you can do to raise Catholic kids is to give them a Catholic parent serious about their own formation.

Your personal decision to take the charge of raising your children Catholic seriously is something you CAN guarantee. Here are three reminders that have been helpful to me in gaining perspective for teaching the faith to my own kids.

Treat teaching the faith like the J-O-B it is

If you were married in the Church, even if you are the sole Catholic spouse, you vowed to take on responsibility for raising your children Catholic. In that moment you gained a new job for life.

What would you need to do to do a good job at work? Show up, do what you say you will, make priorities, consult with coworkers, and adapt to changing circumstances. These are the basics of doing a good job. How could we expect our job of teaching the faith to require any less?

Just like in the workplace, not every endeavor, project, or attempt will be successful. That does not mean I'm failing at ALL THE THINGS. It just means I need to try something different.

For me this looks like:
Making sure the kids come to mass with me as much as possible.
Finding a way to go to the church at least one non-Sunday mass a week. That could be for a parish event, adoration, daily mass, or even just a pop into the church to say hi to Jesus.
Make my own faith formation commitments.
Seek out connection with others in the Catholic community, and feed those friendships.
Accept that life events happen, but those should mean a temporary change not a long term slide.

Know that I am not superwoman

There are many Church documents making it clear that Catholic parents are the primary educators of their children, but I have to be careful not to read "primary" as "only". The Church is not asking me to somehow form Catholic children on a deserted island. She has given me a husband, a parish, Catholic friends, godparents, and the larger Catholic community.

For me this looks like:
Taking advantage of any children's faith formation my parish offers.
Involving my husband in his own special way for the kid's faith formation. My husband likes to do Bible reading with the kids so that is a special thing they do with Dad.
Calling up, texting, or emailing trusted friends or family when I'm frustrated or need perspective.
Making sure the kids stay connected with their Catholic godparents.
Continue to reach out to other families and not settle into a clique.

Remember these kids are not just mine

My children are not mine to keep. They are beautiful souls entrusted to us for a time, but they are meant to become part of the bigger Church.
This concept is such a relief to me! It means that I do not need to mother hen them for the rest of their lives.
It also reminds me that my children ultimately have to choose to continue the faith as adults.
Faith formation is really about giving them as much of a foundation as we can so when the time comes to make their choice they are able to make a fully informed choice.

For me this looks like:
Praying for my children as individuals.
Praying for their future vocations and potential spouse.
Aiming to convey love and truth, not fear and anxiety.


Go over to the CWBN Blog Hop to read more takes on "Keeping our kids Catholic".


Do you do any of these things? What made a difference for you to stay Catholic?


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