Pediatricians Revising Anti-Bed Sharing Stance: Dire Warnings “Backfired.”

According to Dr. Melissa Bartick, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the strong stance against  infant co-sleeping/bed-sharing previously taken by the American Academy of shutterstock_238201720Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control may have actually caused more infant injuries and deaths. As a result, the American Academy of Pediatrics is currently reviewing its safe-sleep recommendations.

Dr. Bartick notes the problems with the original recommendations.

the AAP’s statement from which it comes is based on just four papers. Two of the studies are misrepresented, and actually show little or no risk of sharing a bed when parents do not smoke, and two of the studies do not collect data on maternal alcohol use, a known and powerful risk factor.

She goes on to note the increased risk to infants that the warnings have caused.  Specifically, when parents don’t bring babies to bed, they tend to sit up with them and feed them on a sofa or in a chair which carries with it a very high risk of injury or death as babies get stuck in sofa cushions or dropped on the floor by sleepy parents.  She also notes that discouraging bed-sharing has also had the inadvertent effect of making extended nursing more difficult which carries with it an increased risk of SIDS and other health problems.    READ HER ANALYSIS HERE

Because of all this, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now revising its safe sleep recommendations.  Hopefully, the US pediatric organization will follow the example of the international medical community which offers not politically motivated, unsupportable blanket condemnations,  but empirically-based, responsible guidance for safe co-sleeping practices.

For more information on healthy approaches to infant sleep (and parental sanity!) check out Parenting with Grace:  The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising (Almost) Perfect Kids,  and Then Comes Baby:  The Catholic Guide to the First Three Years of Parenthood.

60% of American Children Show Signs of Poor Moral/Emotional/Relational Health, New Study Says.

Research consistently shows that secure attachment is directly related to robust moral reasoning, empathy,

58% of children in America suffer from insecure attachment.

58% of children in America suffer from insecure attachment.

emotional stability, and relational satisfaction.  By contrast, people with insecure attachments are more likely to be self-centered, emotionally reactive, impulsive, and dissatisfied with their relationships.   Secure attachment is essential to what people more casually refer to as an emotionally, well-adjusted child.

A new study shows a dramatic drop in the number of young adults in the US who exhibit secure attachment.  In this latest study…

researchers combined data from 94 different samples, involving more than 25,000 American undergraduate students, collected between 1988 and 2011. In 1988, 49% of people said they had a secure attachment style (51% were insecure in one form or another). By 2011 there was a 7% decline in security, with 42% reporting that they were secure (vs. 58% insecure).

This is a significant drop in secure attachment. It means that the majority of children in America will struggle with compromised moral reasoning ability, poor ability to empathize, an impaired ability to manage emotions effectively, and a decreased ability to have satisfying relationship.  Welcome to the new normal.

The Cause

What caused this significant drop in the number of children who are well-adjusted?   While the answer to this question is beyond the ability of this particular study, other research points to the fact that, in general, parents are becoming progressively less engaged with their children (for instance, families spend less time together and do less as a family than ever before).  Also, the skyrocketing divorce rate is a major contributor to poor attachment.

I am often criticized for making “too much” of  the importance of parent-child attachment. I receive even greater criticism for promoting parenting methods that have been shown to promote secure attachment in children.  But research like this shows that the majority of parents  (upwards of 60%) really are completely oblivious to how poorly attached to their children they really are.  Three generations of the culture of divorce, the radical feminist devaluation of motherhood and family, combined with  a culture that is religiously devoted to workaholism have obliterated the majority of adults’ sense of what is and is not either normal attachment or healthy family life.  Too many parents assume that, because their kids aren’t bursting into flame that everything is AOK.

We need to stop telling parents that they can do whatever they want and their kids will be fine, because you know what boys and girls?  The kids are NOT all right.

A Catholic Response

As Catholics we are called to bear radical witness to the world of the generous love that comes from God’s own heart.  Parenting in a manner that sees to healthy parent-child attachment by committing to “best practices” like creating and maintaining strong family rituals (for working, playing, talking, and praying together), showering children with extravagant affection, responding promptly to babies cries and children’s needs, keeping infants and toddlers physically close to us as much as possible (including sleep or room-sharing and nursing when possible), and using gentle, loving-guidance approaches to discipline are the ways that all parents can bear witness to that incarnational, embodied love.

We must do better for the almost 60% of our children who are not being given what they need to develop to their fullest, God-given, moral and relational potential.

If you would like to discover how to give your children everything they need to be in the top 40% of kids who are securely attached, check out Then Comes Baby:  The Catholic Guide to Surviving & Thriving in the First Three Years of Parenting and Parenting with Grace:  The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising (almost) Perfect Kids.


Are YOU Humble? New Study Identifies the Truth About Humble People

It might seem strange to think that people would study humility, but positive psychology (the branch of psychology that studies well-being) is interested in fostering virtue as an important part of leading

A slice of Humble Pie?

A slice of Humble Pie?

a happy and healthy life.  This is one of the first studies, however, looking at what, exactly humility is and how it benefits us.

Hardy’s analysis found two clusters of traits that people use to explain humility. Traits in the first cluster come from the social realm: Sincere, honest, unselfish, thoughtful, mature, etc. The second and more unique cluster surrounds the concept of learning: curious, bright, logical and aware.

Samuelson says the two clusters of humble traits — the social and intellectual — often come as a package deal for people who are “intellectually humble.” Because they love learning, they spend time learning from other people.

“In many ways, this is the defining feature of intellectual humility and what makes it distinct from general humility,” said Samuelson, who formerly served as a Lutheran pastor prior to his academic career.

The new study appears in The Journal of Positive Psychology.

This study dovetails with my own understanding of humility.  Humility is not the putative “virtue” of running yourself down or refusing to rejoice in the gifts you have been given.  Pride is defined as the vice that says, “I will NOT serve.”  Pride is an obsession with defining one’s own path to fulfillment, hoarding one’s gifts and refusing to be open to learning from the experience of others.  Humility, then, is the awareness that abundance can only be pursued by cooperating with others, sharing what one has with others, and learning from the experience of others.

If you want to be humble, the key is an openness to learn from others, to see the truth, goodness and beauty in the things they find true, good, and beautiful, and to be willing to give of oneself for the benefit of others.

Holiday Survival Guide: 5 Great Ideas for Coping with Your Crazy Family

Ah, Christmas. A solemn, joyful time of year for Christians, where silent and holy nights are de rigueur and Norman Rockwell springs eternal in the collective unconscious of the American mind.  And then it happens…. You try–contrary to what conventional wisdom says about the subject–to go home again.

Now, let me state right up front that this article is not for those of you who can’t wait to fly home and reenact your own Currier and Ives Christmas in all your old haunts with all your cherished friends and relations. If this is you, then I wish you a Merry Christmas, a happy New Year, tons of figgy pudding in your stocking, and with that, I bid you a fond, holiday farewell until next year. No, this article is for the rest of you (you know who you are), who right about now are thinking that going to the local ice rink and lying down in front of the Zamboni machine may be preferable to putting up with one more Christmas of mom making “helpful” comments about your weight, dad getting more than his share of nog in the egg, your corporate attorney sister (aka “Little Miss Perfect”) telling you how she is glad that you are happy in your “little life,” your brother-in-law (the one that hit you up for $2,000 last Christmas for the Ostrich farm) asking you for money, or for that matter, Great Uncle Harold, who never tires of telling your twelve-year-old son the latest dirty jokes.

What can you do when going home for the holidays feels just a little too much like starring in your own, personal horror story, the kind where the hero/heroine (that would be you) barely escapes with his or her life, but not before suffering unspeakable, holiday-inspired trauma from the great beyond? How can you survive, or even (dare I hope?) enjoy your holiday in spite of the old wounds and present slights? Let the following five tips be your holiday survival guide.

1. Don’t Try to Solve the Unsolvable.

“Every year its the same thing.” Marylin complained to me in session, “My parents never see how awful my sister is to me. She is so petty and hurtful. I’ve tried to talk directly with her about it, but she always tells me I’m just too sensitive. When I ask my folks to give me some support, they just tell me they wish I could be more like her. They have always treated her better than me as long as I can remember. What can I do to make them see how much they’ve hurt me?”

There is a prayer that asks God to give us the courage to change what can be changed, the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference. Now might be a good time to dust that prayer off. Generally speaking, when someone is acting in an offensive way toward you, the direct approach is the best approach. But if that person has been treating you the same obnoxious way since you were five, chances are you are not going to solve the problem this year, or any year for that matter, regardless of how direct or indirect you are about it. And the sooner you accept this hard fact, the happier you are going to be.

When it comes to longstanding problems with family members you only have two healthy choices available to you. If the ongoing offense is too terrible an affront to either your personal dignity (e.g., abusive language or physical violence) or to your sense of moral well-being (e.g., open and unrestrained hostility toward your faith and beliefs), then your best bet may be to simply skip the family shindig this year and concentrate on starting your own traditions. On the other hand, if the ongoing offense is not quite so serious, I would recommend that you do your best to grin and bear it. Remind yourself that you are a grown-up, and that while these people are an important part of your past, they can only play the part in your present and future that you see fit to allow. True, you may feel like a three-year-old in their presence, but the fact is, you are in charge now. If you can remember this, you will be able to find the maturity to practice the spiritual work of mercy known as “bearing wrongs patiently” and perhaps even find some wisdom in the age-old Catholic practice of “offering it up.”

2. You Don’t Have to Save Your Family from Themselves.

I recently read a case study of a man who was dreading going home for the holidays because of his mother’s excessive drinking. His therapist asked him to imagine getting the following note in his mailbox. “Dear Charles, I wanted you to know that for the rest of her life, your mother is going to be an alcoholic and remain completely oblivious to anyone’s efforts to help her. Love, God.”

Charles reported that even though the therapist’s words shocked him at first, he realized that barring some major miracle–a miracle that was beyond his ability to produce–his mother was indeed going to have a problem for the rest of her life. While this saddened him, he also realized that for the first time he could go home with some peace, because it wasn’t his job to save her.

People often tell me that they dread going home again because they feel it is their job to save their family, to be the witness that lead them all to Christ, or at least witnesses that stop the family from killing each other. If this is you, I want you to repeat after me, “I am not the family Messiah. I am not the family Messiah, I am not….”

Yes, when you are around your family you must conduct yourself in a manner that makes you proud of your own behavior, but stop trying to play the prophet or putting yourself, your mate, or your kids on display so that the rest of the family will see your light and follow you to Midnight Mass. That is simply more pressure than anyone can stand, and it will make everyone around you (especially your mate and children) despise you. No one likes a self-righteous prig, even at Christmas. The best way to be a light is not by being perfect, but by being peaceful. Do whatever it takes to maintain your calm and take excellent care of your own mate’s and children’s emotional well-being. Leave your family to their own devices. If you can manage this, maybe, just maybe, someone in the family will one day come to you and ask, “What’s your secret for staying so calm in the middle of all this insanity?” But before this can happen (perhaps a hundred years from now) you will have to practice becoming a credible witness to your family by being a peaceful, sane person whose faith–as St Francis de Sales says faith must be–is attractive.

3. Don’t Play the Game.

Certain people like to play a party game therapists call, “Let’s you and him fight.” That’s where somebody puts two people with violently divergent opinions in the same room, raises a hot topic, and then stands back at a safe distance to watch the fireworks.


There are political, religious, and personal versions of this game. Your job is to avoid this game at all costs, because there are no winners, only losers. If you play, you will end up looking like one of the reject guests for a holiday episode of Jerry Springer. Remind yourself that these arguments are really not going to convince anyone about anything and that, in fact, you are being set up, merely for the amusement of another person(s). Resist the temptation to fight.  Instead, if you know you are going to a place where you openly disagree with everything that is being said, focus all your energies on making polite conversation, or alternatively, heading to the buffet table and stuffing your mouth full of the driest cookies you can find so that you couldn’t say something inflammatory even if you wanted to.

Of course this does not mean that you cannot answer sincere questions asked by the more honest members of your family. Just remember that people asking sincere questions about spiritual, emotional, or political issues do not often do so with a smirk on their face and twenty other people looking on. If the situation is the latter, you are being set up.

4. Know When to Say When

Know when to call it a night (or morning, or early afternoon) and make sure you have a nice safe hotel to run to when things start getting to you. There is nothing wrong with beating a hasty retreat when you feel that you can’t take it anymore. Find an excuse to bug out whenever you need a break (something like, “I’m sorry, I suddenly began experiencing stabbing pains through my entire body” usually does the trick.) You can always come back later, after you have cooled down. And if anyone is offended by you keeping a separate domicile, just tell them you were trying to inflict yourself on them as little as possible. They probably won’t admit it to your face, but chances are, they will be as relieved as you are.

5. Pray.

This is the most obvious, but also the most important. But if you pray, please ask God to give you the grace to be a sane credible witness, BEFORE you pray for the conversion and sanity of the rest of your family. Remember, as St, Francis said, it is much more important to understand than to be understood, to love than to be loved, to consol than to be consoled. The paradox is, the more you practice these virtues, the more respect you will be afforded by those around you. Pray that God would change you first.

These five tips probably won’t be the source of any great holiday miracle, but they just may stop you from impaling yourself on a sprig of holly at the thought of seeing “those people” for yet another holiday.

And sometimes, that is miracle enough.

For more information on handling those delicate situations in your extended family, check out God Help Me, These People Are Driving Me Nuts!  Making Peace with Difficult People.

Surprise! 2 Things Happy Relationships and Christmas Have in Common

If you had to pick two qualities that characterize the spirit of Christmas, you could hardly do better than kindness and generosity.shutterstock_237646648

It turns out that kindness and generosity are the two qualities that, more than any other, distinguish happy couples from the also-rans.   New research by the Gottman Relationship Institute says that happy couples exhibit significantly higher degrees of kindness and generosity than less happy couples.  Of course, you might be tempted to say “Well, that’s obvious!”  but it isn’t as obvious as you might think when you get down beneath the surface.

Kindness, according to the researchers, has to do with how we relate our feelings, especially our feelings of anger, impatience and frustration with our spouse’s imperfections.  Kindness doesn’t require you to stuff your feelings, but it does require to express them…kindly.  For instance, if an unhappy couple is angry with each other, they might put things in a more accusatory, blaming way.  But if a happy couple was upset or disappointed with each other they might say, “Listen, I really love you, but I’m really frustrated about this thing you do.  What can I do to help you get past that?”  Or “I’m really having a hard time with X.  I really need your help to figure this out.”   Kindness enables us to see irritations as problems to be solved, not clubs to beat one another with.

Generosity has to do with a couple’s ability to remember to step outside of their comfort zones and find little ways to make each other’s day a little easier or more pleasant.  Happy couples ask each other each day what they can do to help lighten each other’s burdens and make each other’s days more enjoyable.  Less healthy couples, on the other hand, wake up in the morning and act like they’ve been shot out of a canon.  They do what they need to do and don’t look up again until they fall into bed at the end of the night.  They aren’t opposed to being generous.  It just never occurs to them to do it because “they don’t have time for it.”   The truth is, happy couples aren’t less busy than other couples they’re just more mindful.   Generosity gets squeezed out in less healthy marriages because the couple doesn’t prioritize it.  Being generous requires us stop saying, “What do I need to do to get through the day?” and ask instead “What can I do to take care of my partner so that we can both get through our day with a little more peace love and understanding?”  That takes a level of mindfulness and consideration that doesn’t come easily to most people but its as simple to cultivate as asking the question, “What can I do to try to let my spouse know I’m thinking about them and I care–right now.  In this moment.”  And asking that a few more times throughout the day.

Christmas All Year Long

We often hear about how nice it would be to make Christmas last all year long.  We can.  By intentionally cultivating the kindness and generosity that healthy relationship require, we can experience a more incarnate love–the kind of love that comes from God’s own heart.  The sort of kind and generous love that God reminds us–each year at this time–that he made us to experience.

If you would like to increase your experience of kindness and generosity in your relationship, check out these resources:

For Better…FOREVER!  A Catholic Guide to Lifelong Marriage

The Exceptional Seven Percent:  Nine Secrets of The World’s Happiest Couples

Just Married:  The Catholic Guide to Surviving & Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage

When Divorce is NOT An Option:  How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love.


Torture As Ineffective as It is Unethical, New Study Says.

A lot of my fellow Catholic patheosi have been engaging the torture debate in light of the recent report from congress.  I will leave the moral dimensions of the debate to more able hands–it is sufficient for me to know that our faith deems torture an offense against the dignity of the person (c.f., Evangelium Vitae and Splendor of the Truth).  As the Patheos Catholic Channel’s resident shrink, I figured shutterstock_218562028I’d limit myself to reporting on some recent research that examined the efficacy of torture.

According to an article in Applied Cognitive Psychology, building rapport with “high-level detainees” (i.e., terrorists) is a much more effective method of gaining valid, actionable intelligence than so-called enhanced methods of interrogation (i.e., torture).  Here is the summary from the British Psychological Society Blog, BPS Research Digest.

The advantage of rapport-building interrogation strategies (including respect, friendliness and empathy towards suspects) over more coercive techniques is highlighted once again in a new study that involved interviews with law enforcement interrogators and detainees.

The research involved 34 interrogators (1 woman) from several international jurisdictions including Australia, Indonesia and Norway. And there were 30 international detainees (1 woman), most of whom had been held on suspicion of terrorism, including people suspected of involvement with the Tamil Tigers or the Islamist group Ansar al Ismal based in Norway. One in five of the detainees reported being subjected to practices that constitute torture. Note, these were separate groups – the interrogators had not dealt professionally with the participating detainees.

The research team led by Jane Goodman-Delahunty asked the interrogators and detainees to recall a specific interrogation session, to describe the interrogation practices used, and the outcomes in terms of information shared, cooperation and confessions. The results were striking – disclosure was 14 times more likely to occur early in an interrogation when a rapport-building approach was used. Confessions were four times more likely when interrogators struck a neutral and respectful stance. Rates of detainee disclosure were also higher when they were interrogated in comfortable physical settings. More surprising, cooperation reduced five-fold when detainees were presented with explicit evidence. It’s possible this is because interrogators were more likely to resort to presenting evidence to uncooperative detainees.

The researchers said their results “augment the accumulating cross-national consensus about effective noncoercive best practices in investigative interviewing.” Their hope is that this will “reduce practitioner skepticism about reliance on noncoercive interview strategies with high value detainees.”  Go here for more information including links to the original study.

Awesome FREE Parenting Resource

The latest issue of Tender Tidings, the e-magazine for intentional Catholic parents is out!shutterstock_109976480

Here are some of the great things you’ll find inside:

  • Sleep stories from intentional parents, tips for getting more sleep, the science of safe co-sleeping
  • What can the Holy Family teach us about parenting?
  • Dr. Greg provides tips for getting young children to pay attention during Mass.
  • An authentic (but easy) king cake for the Feast of the Epiphany

Go here to access the latest issue of this great, free, online publication for Catholic parents.  And many thanks to More2Life Radio Contributor, Kim Cameron-Smith for providing parents with this great resource!

For Better or Worse: You’ll Be Surprised at These 4 Ways Marriage Changes You!

We all know that marriage changes us, but new research in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships looks at exactly how that process happens and the specific changes we can expect to see based on the way we respond to the ups and downs of marriedmarriage life.  According to the study, there are 4 ways couples change as a result of their marriage, two of which are positive and two are negative.

Positive Marital Changes

Self-Expansion:  Is the tendency to develop new, positive qualities (e.g., patience, generosity, joy) as a result your interactions with your spouse.

Self-Pruning: Represents your tendency to outgrow negative personal traits that you used to have (e.g., short-temper, selfishness, pettiness) because of your spouse’s positive influence on you.

Negative Marital Changes

Self-Contraction: Is when positive personal traits you brought into the marriage (e.g., conscientiousness, thoughtfulness, kindness) are undermined or eliminated because of your relationship with your spouse.

Self-Adulteration:  Refers to how you can develop new, negative personality traits  (e.g., resentment, childishness, passive-aggression) because of your spouse’s influence.

How Do We Change?

It might be tempting to blame our spouse for “making” us change in these ways, but the research shows that whether we develop positive or negative traits as a result of our marriage depends entirely on how we choose to respond to our mate.  People who respond to challenges in the marriage and in married life by choosing to be forgiving, generous, and willing to sacrifice tend to experience more positive personal growth as well as both more life satisfaction and more general sense of  well-being than people who respond to these same challenges by lashing out, seeking revenge, threatening or entertaining fantasies of divorce, or committing or entertaining fantasies of infidelity.  Our choices in the marriage directly determines the way our marriage will change us, for better or worse.

The Faith Connection

Our faith teaches that we “find ourselves by making a gift of ourselves” (Gaudium et Spes).   This study offers one more example of how true that statement is.  Marriage isn’t easy, but if we choose to respond to the challenges we face over the course of our married life by cultivating the generous, forgiving, accommodating spirit that “self-donation” (that generosity of spirit St John Paul II spoke of in his Theology of the Body) asks of us, we can become better, more joyful, healthier and happier people.

If you’d like to discover the secrets of experiencing more “for better” than “for worse” in your marriage, check our For Better…FOREVER! A Catholic Guide to Lifelong Marriage, Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Suviving & Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage, and When Divorce Is Not An Option: How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love, or contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute’s Tele-Counseling Practice to speak with a Catholic therapist about how you can transform the heart of your marriage and become the person God is calling you to be.

Parent Rx: Tantrums and Mass Behavior

My latest ParentRx Q&A Column from the upcoming issue of Tender Tidings.shutterstock_29603572

My five-year-old daughter still throws temper tantrums occasionally, which are usually triggered by not getting her way with something that seems rather trivial to us. Sometimes we have no idea what caused the tantrum, and have a hard time getting her to tell us what happened.  What is the best way to help her calm down and talk to us when she is in the midst of screaming, crying, and writhing in a heap on the floor?  She does sometimes let me pick her up and hold her until she calms down enough to think and speak rationally, and other times we have just left her alone in her room until she calms down a bit.  Once she calms down, how can we teach her to control her response better the next time something upsets her?   Signed, Tired of Tantrums

A:  Between the ages of 4-6, brain changes are occurring that enable a child to engage in self-talk–that inner dialog that we all have that creates and sustains emotional states.  Before this age, parents could deal with tantrums with distraction and calming techniques alone.  Now, however, these techniques aren’t enough because the child is able to keep the emotional fires burning by keeping up a conversation in his or her head that says, “You’re mean!”  “This isn’t fair!” and “I don’t LIKE this!”

It is ultimately the child’s job to learn how to get control of this inner-dialog because there is little you can do from the outside to directly change it.  But you can provide a structure that makes it easier for the child to learn to get control of the negative tantrum sustaining self-talk.

1.  Begin with comfort and empathy–Start by letting your child know you understand that he or she is hurting and upset.   Simple statements like, “You are so upset.  I’m sorry you seem so frustrated right now” and the like can go a long way to helping your child feel understood and, ultimately, calm down.  If your child is receptive to your attempts to help and begins quieting down a bit, coach your child to use his or her words to tell you what he or she is upset about.  Help your child state the problem and begin proposing ideas to address whatever that issue is.  Assuming this works, skip step two below and proceed to step three.


2.  Give the child some space—If your child fights you and is refusing your help as described above, say to your child, “I am trying to help you, but you don’t seem to want my help.  You will need to sit here until you are ready to tell me what’s wrong in your nice voice or are ready to let me help you.”  Place the child in a quiet place and leave the room.  This isn’t a time-out so much as it is some time to let your child cool down.  Check back in after a few minutes and ask if your child is ready to speak to you respectfully about the problem or receive your help calming down.  Repeat step 2 until the child is receptive.  Return to step one.


3.  Rehearse–Now that you have helped your child get back under control, identified the problem and how you can address the problem, have your child rehearse a better way to address this problem in future.  Have your child imagine that he or she is experiencing the problem again but this time, have your child practice saying the respectful words and tone and doing the more appropriate thing to address the concern.  It’s ok if your child has to repeat this two or three times to get it right (any more than that and you’ll need to go back to step two).  Once your child completes this successfully, praise your little one for the good effort and get him to promise that he will do this new behavior instead the next time this problem comes up.


After a week or two at most, the tantrums should mostly stop altogether.  If not, contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute for additional support.


Dear Dr. Greg,   My four-year-old daughter has a hard time sitting still during Mass, so I let her look at books and color.  Up to this point I have felt this is reasonable given her age and maturity. At what age, though, do you think I should require her to focus on the Liturgy (with my support) instead of playing and reading?    Signed,   A Mom Trying to Raising Saints

Every child will come into this in their own time, but every child needs help to get there.  Whatever age your child is, begin by at least requiring your child to put down her book or toy and attend to elevation, when the bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus.  Say to your child, “The bread and wine is becoming Jesus!  Look at the miracle!  Say, ‘I love you, Jesus.'”


As your child gets more mature, take away the activities for the time from the Holy to the Great Amen.  Help your child sing/say the prayers.


Also, make sure that you have read the readings before mass.  Pick a “magic word” for each reading.  Tell your child to listen for that word during the readings and the Gospel.  When your child hears the word, tell them to give you a quiet signal (tugging your sleeve, for instance) to let you know that he heard it.  Praise him and give him a big hug for paying attention.
The key is to use little trick like this to teach your child to attend to as much of the Mass as possible.  Don’t set your child up with toys and books from the start.  Help your child attend to Mass as much as you can and use the activity books and quiet toys to fill in the gaps.  Over time, try to find little ways to encourage your child to delay bringing out the activities, remembering that at every age, these things should be put away–or at least set aside–during the consecration/elevation.


Pope Francis & Pope Emeritus Benedict Agree on Annulments

From a recent interview with Pope Francis.pope

The family is so beaten up, young people don´t get married. What´s the problem? When they finally come to get married, having already moved in together, we think it´s enough to offer them three talks to get them ready for marriage. But it´s not enough because the great majority are unaware of the meaning of a lifetime commitment. Benedict said it twice in his last year, that we should take this into account in order to grant nullity, each person´s faith at the time of getting married.

A few days ago, a couple who are living together came to tell me that they were getting married. I said: “Good. Are you ready for it?” And their answer was: “Yes, now we are looking for a church which suits my dress best”, the girl said. “Yes, right now we´re in the middle of all the preparations -the invitations, souvenirs and all the rest”, the boy echoed. “There´s also the issue of the party, we cannot make up our minds because we don´t want the reception to be hosted too far from the church. And then there´s the other issue, our best man and maid of honour are divorced, same as my parents, so we can´t have both of them together”. All these issues are about the ceremony! Indeed, getting married should be celebrated, because you need courage to get married and that should be commended. However, neither of them made any comment at all on what this meant to them, the fact that it was a lifetime commitment. What do I mean? That for a great many people getting married is just a social event. The religious element doesn’t surface in the least. So how can the church step in and help? 

I really couldn’t agree more.  The Church has been assuming that the family is preparing couples for marriage, but the family is too busy fighting for its life to adequately pass on the faith.  As I have mentioned before, I think this could be a tremendous help to couples and a definite step in the right direction.  Couples who are not adequately prepared for marriage cannot and should not be held accountable for keeping promises they couldn’t begin to understand.  The present system is as unjust as jailing a 5 yo for driving a car into a crowd of people.  The responsibility for that tragedy lies not with the child behind the wheel, but with the people who put him there in the first place.