Frustrated With Your Kids? – 3 Tips for More Joyful, Effective Parenting

shutterstock_390805201Parenting is a tough job. Kids really know how to push our buttons.  Often, we just feel lucky if we can make it through the day losing our minds.  The good news is that there is a way to reclaim your sanity as a parent, to get a handle on all the chaos, get your kids to listen, and start to enjoy your role as a parent.  Honest!

Theology of the Body reminds us that families are schools of love and virtue where we all learn to live life as a gift, and that parents are the most important teachers in this school of love. Catholic parents are empowered through God’s grace in the sacrament of marriage to do more than just “get through the day” with our kids. The world needs loving, responsible, godly people and God asks his faithful couples to give the word what it needs. The more we can approach parenting in a thoughtful, intentional, graceful manner, the more we are able to fulfill our mission as Catholics–to let God change the world through our families by raising the next generation of faithful, courageous, loving, responsible, and godly men and women. It’s a tough job, but God gives us the grace to do it.

Want to be a more joyful, grace-filled parent?  Start practicing the following tips today.

Remember To Lead–When you’re correcting your kids, only 5% of your energy should be focused on what they did wrong.  The other 95% should be focused on leading your children to a better place. Before you correct your kids, ask yourself, “What does my child need to handle this situation better next time?” Put your energy into teaching those skills. Punishments don’t work. Teaching does. Using techniques like do-overs, role-playing, time-in (i.e. bringing your child to you to help him or her calm down), cool-downs, and other loving guidance approaches to discipline focus on giving your kids the skills they need to succeed next time–instead of shaming them for failing this time. Lead your children to virtue by showing them a better way to express their emotions, communicate their needs, accomplish their goals, get along with others, and manage their stress. The more energy you put into teaching instead of punishing, the quicker your kids’ behavior will improve overall and the less stressed you’ll be!

Celebrate Success–Tell your kids when they handle a situation well by acknowledging the virtue they displayed.  You don’t have to throw a parade–in fact, it’s much better if you don’t–but simple comments like, “That was really responsible.”, “You handled that really respectfully.”,  “That was very generous.” “That was a very loving choice.” and similar comments help kids understand that virtues aren’t just a list of words to memorize, but a practical guide for handling life’s ups and downs with grace. Believe it or not, kids want to be good, and they desperately crave your approval. By remarking on all the ways that exhibiting virtues help them manage their emotions, express their needs, negotiate stressful situations, and get along with others, you are showing your kids that they already have what it takes to do the right thing AND you’re making them want to get even better at it. Celebrate your kids’ successful efforts to display virtue by letting them know you saw what they did and that you are proud of them for doing it.

Fill the Tank–There is a fuel that drives good behavior. Don’t forget to fill the tank. Both research and generations of wise parents will tell you that extravagant affection is the fuel that makes kids want to behave and try harder to please you. Research shows that affection is actually communication. Taking time to hold your kids close all throughout the day actually helps them reset their heart rate, respiration, body temp and other bodily rhythms when they are feeling stressed, frustrated, angry, anxious, or overwhelmed.  Affectionate parents literally incline their children’s hearts to them, and make their kids naturally turn to their parents for guidance and comfort. Yes, you will still need to teach your kids what to do but affection is the fuel that makes correction work.

For more information on how you can practice graceful parenting, check out Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Guide to Raising (Almost) Perfect Kids! and make sure to tune in to More2Life — Monday-Friday 10am E/9am C on EWTN, SiriusXM 139.

Parenting in the Age of Weinstein


Almost every day, new allegations of sexual harassment are in the headlines. The #metoo campaign has exposed the abusive behavior of power-brokers in Hollywood and DC helped victims, who have been silenced for too long, find their voices again.

One parent, despairing at the onslaught of depressing headlines and salacious stories recently asked me, “What can we do to raise boys not to act like this?  How can we protect our girls from a culture like this?”  While we can never control every variable, the truth is that parents can do a lot to raise young men who can be respectful of women and young women who know how they deserve to be treated.  Interestingly, the answer to both questions involves the same two things.

Attend to Attachment

Research consistently shows that a child’s attachment style predicts both how likely a child is to victimize others as he or she grows up as well as how likely it is that a child will be able to set appropriate boundaries with those who try to hurt them.

There are three basic attachment styles (secure, anxious, and avoidant) that determine a child’s basic sense of how they should both treat others and expect to be treated by others. Which attachment style a particular child develops is determined by how promptly, generously, and consistently his or her parents respond to the child’s emotional needs.

Securelyattached children are raised by parents who are generous with affection, employ gentle discipline that teaches good behavior instead of merely punishing bad behavior, encourage healthy emotional expression, and model the healthy give-and-take involved in loving relationships.  Securely attached children are naturally empathic, and are naturally repulsed by the idea of using or hurting another person.  They also have a gut-level sense of when they are not being treated properly and so are much more likely to sense and avoid dangerous situations, set boundaries early when someone tries to take advantage of them, and be confident about seeking help when they feel like they are in over their heads.

Anxiously-attached children are raised by parents who tend to be conditional about giving affection and praise, tend to use harsh, emotionally-driven discipline that blames rather than teaches, and tend to be too distracted by their own problems to consistently respond to the child’s emotional needs.  This child grows up feeling like it is their job to make other people meet their needs and it is their fault when other people don’t treat them well.  As adults, anxiously attached children often have a hard time recognizing unhealthy relationships. They tend not to notice that others are treating them badly until its gone too far.  And then, when they do notice, they tend to blame themselves, thinking they somehow caused the problem or even deserve the poor treatment.  This makes it difficult for them to set limits, or seek help.

Avoidantly-attached children are raised by parents who are unaffectionate and emotionally shut-off, tend to use heavy-handed approaches to discipline, and tend to leave children to themselves.  Avoidantly attached children grow up to become adults who, because they have never been taught to connect emotionally or spiritually with others, over-emphasize the importance of sex.  The more seriously avoidant a child’s attachment style is, the more likely that child will be a bully, a sex-addict, or, in the extreme, a sociopath who takes joy in hurting others.

If you want to raise a child who knows how to treat others well and knows how he or she deserves to be treated, the most important thing you can do is teach your child what a healthy relationship looks like by engaging in those practices that promote secure attachment.


The second most important thing a parent can do to raise children who know how to treat others well and know how they deserve to be treated is to teach kids, from an early age, that everything we do to another person is either ordered toward loving them or using them. When we are affectionate and respectful, when we do things to build them up, or look for ways to make their lives easier or more pleasant, we love others and help them become the persons they are meant to be.  By contrast, when we disregard others, when we are critical, mean, or derogatory, when we use people as a means to some end, or act in ways that say we don’t care about what they are going through, we treat people as things to be used, abused, or neglected.

A Catholics, we believe that the only appropriate response to another person is love, never use.  Children as young as 4 or 5 can understand the difference between love and use in relationships.

Parents who foster healthy attachment and teach their child the difference between loving and using another person from the earliest days not only are prone to raise healthy kids.  They strike a blow against a culture that sees people as objects and relationships as exchanges where the powerful use the less powerful as a means to their selfish ends.

Dr. Greg Popcak is the author of many books including Beyond the Bids and the Bees: The Catholic Guide to Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids.  Visit him at

Is Technoference Affecting Your Family?


We often hear how children’s overuse of smartphones and other devices is responsible for a host of problems including academic underperformance and social impairment.  But if you’re a parent, did you ever stop to think that your smartphone use might be causing your kids to act out?

A new study discovered that 48% of parents report technology disrupting time with their children such as during meals, playtime, or other activities more than three times a day, while only 11% of parents said this never occurs. This kind of disruption in personal time is referred to as “technoference,” the way technology use interrupts or distracts us from being fully present to the individuals around us.

The study indicated that, “As technoference increased, so did children’s behavioral problems, such as whining, sulking, restlessness, temper tantrums and acting out.” Likewise, children’s own technological use increased as their parents’ use increased. The researchers noted that “even low and seemingly normative amounts of technoference were associated with greater child behavior problems.”

While technology can be helpful, and the use of technology is often necessary, it is also important to have designated times in which parents and children alike put away their devices and spend quality time with one another. Parents should be especially mindful of avoiding technoference during family meals, playtime, game nights, or other bonding activities.

Kids grow up fast.  Cherish your time with them.  That cat meme will still be there after they go to bed.

For these and other parenting tips, check out Parenting With Grace: The Catholic Guid to Raising (Almost) Perfect Kids! and tune in to More2Life weekdays, 10am E/9am C on SiriusXM 139.

Becoming a Better Family


shutterstock_247460536When life gets busy, family time and family relationships tend to fall by the wayside. We drive our kids to extra curricular activities and run errands, and while these things are important, they often act as distractors from building up our family. When the busyness of life gets in the way of strengthening our familial relationships, we may need to take another look at where our priorities lie.

Theology of the Body reminds us that families are schools of love and virtue where we learn how to live life as a gift. Obviously that’s a very different vision of family life than the world has, which tends to define“family” as just any group of people that lives under the same roof and shares a data plan. God wants more for His families. He wants to use your family to satisfy the longing in your heart for a love that is honest, strong, joyful, warm and deep.

Here are three More2Life hacks for becoming a better family:

1. Create Sacred Moments–Want to celebrate the family life God wants for you? Then ask him to teach you, together. Cultivate meaningful, daily family prayer times. There are lots of different ways to pray. Just remember that prayer isn’t supposed to be about saying the right words, it’s about drawing closer to God AND each other. When you pray, however you pray, make sure to thank God for the specific ways he’s blessed your family every that day. Take turns bringing real concerns to him and asking for his help. Ask for God’s wisdom to respond well to the big questions your family is facing. Family prayer works best when you stop “SAYING” prayers and start offering your hearts to God in prayer. That’s the kind of prayer that lets grace be the source of the warmth in your home.

2. Waste Time Together–Want to enjoy a closer, more joyful family life?  As Pope Francis puts it, “Waste time with your kids.” Family life doesn’t happen when we’re busy with many things.  Family life happens in the little moments when we stop doing and start BEING together. Make time to BE together. Everyday, make it a priority to take at least 15 minutes to do something fun, to talk about something more meaningful than “what happened today”, to work side-by-side on something, and to connect to God. If you take 15 min to do those 4 things, you’re spending an hour a day learning how to love each other better, enjoy each other more, and connect a little deeper.  Wasting time with your family isn’t an obligation. It’s a blessing. Let God bless your family by prioritizing your need to work, talk, pray, and play together, even a little bit, every day.

 3. Build Your House–Want to have a stronger, more loving family? Build each other up. Most families don’t talk about their relationship unless they’re getting on each other’s nerves. God’s families deserve better. Regularly talk about ways you can take better care of each other, and get along better with each other. At dinner time, talk about virtues like patience, joy, love, respect, responsibility and ask how your family can do a better job living out those qualities out. Parenting is no fun if you’re just putting out fires all the time. But it gets a lot more enjoyable when you’re able to talk together about creating a stronger, more loving more joyful family life.  Make a point of making time to build you home together–instead of just always trying to put out fires.

For more information on how to become a stronger, better family, check out Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids and make sure to tune in to More2Life weekdays at 10am E/9am C on EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network, SiriusXM 139.

St. Joseph: Our Father? – Part 1


Guest post by Dave McClow.

Fatherlessness has become an epidemic in our society:  43% of our kids grow up without fathers (US Census), approaching a catastrophe rivaling the 1918 flu pandemic when an estimated 56% of the world was infected.  Fatherlessness is devastating—legally, morally, psychologically, and spiritually. A shocking snapshot of our fatherless youth shows they comprise 63% of youth suicides (US Dept. Of Health/Census)–5 times the average; 90% of all homeless and runaway children–32 times the average; 85% of all children who show behavior disorders–20 times the average (Center for Disease Control); 80% of rapists with anger problems–14 times the average (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26); and 71% of all high school dropouts–9 times the average (National Principals Association Report).

Fatherlessness is a Catholic problem in two ways:  1) because God is father, it creates a crisis of faith and is partly responsible for the rise of the religious “nones” (70% are millennials, 23% are adults, and 57% are men) and 2) it challenges how we evangelize the fatherless.

The antidote is men fully living out their faith as spiritual fathers by informally adopting our lost generation.  Our faith calls us to care for the “least” and the vulnerable (Mt. 25:40) and to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19)—that’s spiritual fatherhood; that’s the summit of being a man, and St. Joseph is our prototypical model.

How is St. Joseph a Spiritual Father?

St. Joseph took two roads to spiritual fatherhood: 1) through the incarnation, and 2) through participation in a new order of family.

God the Father, our real prototype of spiritual fatherhood (Eph. 3:14), asked St. Joseph to be Jesus’ father.  John Paul II says that even though his fatherhood is not biological, he is not just an “apparent” or “substitute” father.  Rather, he “fully shares in authentic human fatherhood and the mission of a father in the family“ (RC, 21).  How is this so?  As the Incarnation, Jesus’ whole purpose is to reveal the Father and true fatherhood (Jn 14:9).  And John Paul II explains that the Holy Family is inserted directly into the mystery of the Incarnation.  And so, though St. Joseph is not Jesus’ biological father, when he reveals, relives, and radiates the very fatherhood of God, he becomes Jesus’ authentic human, and I would add spiritual, father.  His masculinity is fully expressed in his spiritual fatherhood, as it should be for all men, first and foremost, even if they are not biological fathers.

A New Order of Family

“Who are my mother and brothers?  Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt. 12:46-50; cf., Mk. 3:31-35; Lk 27-28).  Is Jesus trying to escape a stereotypical overbearing Jewish mother?  I don’t think so!  Instead, John Paul II believes Jesus is establishing a whole new order of family and parenthood based on obedience.  And who is more obedient than Mary?  Jesus is preparing her for the crowning event of her new spiritual motherhood at the foot of cross: “Son, behold your Mother” (Jn 19:26-27).  In the new order, Jesus gives us and the Church his own mother.

Similarly, St. Joseph, as Jesus’ spiritual father, can also be our father.  Spiritual fatherhood (or motherhood) includes any action of care for others, i.e., the corporal or spiritual works of mercy.

“Joseph did.…” These two words and their variants, “he took the child…and went…” define St. Joseph’s role in salvation history.  He is not known for what he said in the Gospels—he said nothing!  But he listens to God in his inner life—his dreams—and then does the hard thing!  He protects the Son of God and his mother through many obstacles and threats—spiritual fatherhood is always an adventure!  He cares for and educates a child who is not his own in obedience to God’s word.  And as a just and generous man, he is willing to sacrifice much.  He is a good spiritual father to Jesus, and to us.

Spiritual fatherhood, as the summit of masculinity, is open to any age.  For years I watched the 5th and 6th grade boys at my local parish mentor or shepherd the younger boys during Mass.  When men or boys live out who they are created to be as spiritual fathers, they become more themselves, more masculine; they follow St. Joseph, our model, in revealing, reliving, and radiating God’s fatherhood to others.  In Part 2 I will explore more of the practical side of St. Joseph’s spiritual fatherhood as priest, prophet, and king.

The fatherlessness of this generation will spread like a cancer if unopposed.  Catholic men must be a witness, exercising their God-given gender and masculinity as spiritual fathers.  Our Church and culture depend on us!  We must imitate our father St. Joseph in revealing, reliving, and radiating God’s fatherhood to spiritual children who are not our own.  To whom can you be a spiritual father in your neighborhood or parish today?


Guest post by Dave McClow  Associate Counselor, Pastoral Solutions Institute

7 Keys to Raising Caring Kids


Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

At times, being a parent can feel extremely overwhelming. It can feel like so much work to help our kids be the  intelligent, happy, ambitious, and overall successful individuals we want them to be. The good news is that research shows that there is one quality—caring— we can parent toward that gives our kids all those other benefits and more.

According to a report by Harvard’s Making Caring Common Project, “…when children can empathize with and take responsibility for others, they’re likely to be happier and more successful. They’ll have better relationships their entire lives, and strong relationships are a key ingredient of happiness. In today’s workplace, success often depends on collaborating effectively with others, and children who are empathic and socially aware are also better collaborators.”

The authors of the report suggest 7 tips for raising caring children:

1)Work to develop loving, caring relationships with your kids

Children take their parents’ lead. They’ll most effectively learn to treat others with care and respect when they are treated with care and respect themselves. Schedule regular one-on-one time with your kids. Make an effort to have meaningful conversations. Let your efforts to prioritize them be their inspiration for prioritizing deeper relationships with others.

2) Be a strong moral role model and mentor

Children desperately need role models. As their parent, you are your child’s first teacher and the best model of all the virtues your kids need to experience life as a gift.  Make sure to practice honesty, fairness, and caring in your own life.  Of course, nobody’s perfect, so when stress or frustration gets the better of you, practice humility, self-awareness, and honesty by showing your willingness to apologize and make a genuine effort to change.

3) Make caring for others a priority and set high ethical expectations

A big part of prioritizing caring is holding children to high ethical expectations. This can be done by teaching children to honor their commitments, to do the right thing even when it is hard, and to stand up for important principles of fairness and justice. Furthermore, it’s critical for you to insist that your kids always speak and act respectfully, even if it makes them unhappy and even if their peers aren’t behaving that way.

4) Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude

We’ve all heard the saying “practice makes perfect,” or at least, “practice makes progress.” Why not create opportunities for your child to practice caring and gratitude? Expect your children to participate in the household chores. Regularly start conversations with your children about the caring and uncaring acts they see in their daily lives or on television.  Create a ritual of expressing thanks at dinner or bedtime. Studies show that people who cultivate the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving—and they’re also more likely to be happy and healthy.

5) Expand your child’s circle of concern

Children naturally empathize with a small group of family and friends, however it is important to teach your child how to “zoom out” and care about those outside that circle, such as a new child in class, or others in their community.  Encouraging your child to consider the perspectives and feelings of the hurting people around them. Ask them to imagine what it would be like to be that person. Then, give your children simple ideas for taking action, like comforting a classmate who was teased or reaching out to a new student.

6) Promote children’s ability to be ethical thinkers and positive change-makers in their community

Children love to grapple with ethical questions. Help children be the leaders in modeling virtue by discussing various moral dilemmas.  For instance, “Should I invite a new neighbor to my birthday party if my best friend doesn’t like her?’” Situations such as this provide the perfect dialogue to develop the skills of ethical thinking and leadership in your child.

7) Help children develop self-control and manage feelings effectively

Even the most caring child can become overwhelmed by feelings of anger, shame, envy, etc, which can cause him to lose the ability to care for others. It’s important to teach children that, while these feelings are okay, there are ways to express our feelings that are useful and helpful and ways that aren’t. Teach your child to identify his or her emotions, as well as teaching them how to resolve conflicts.

Raising caring kids is a big job, but as our Church teaches, we find ourselves in the act of caring for others.  Help your kids discover the secret to a happy life by teaching them the importance of caring.

For more information on how to raise respectful and caring children, check out Parenting With Grace: The Catholic Guide to Raising (Almost) Perfect Kids.


The BeDADitudes: 8 Ways to Be An Awesome Dad


Pope Francis has called Jesus’ Beatitudes  our “guide on the path of Christian life.”   Of course, God leads by example.  As such, in addition to being a call to Christian discipleship, the Beatitudes also could be said to reveal something about the ways God the Father relates to us, his children.  Seen in this light, the Beatitudes present a unique opportunity for Christian men to become fathers after The Father’s own heart.  That’s why I wrote The BeDADitudes: 8 Ways to Be An Awesome Dad, which looks at how the 8 Beatitudes can be understood to shed light on a uniquely Christian vision of masculinity, in general, and fatherhood, in particular.

Want to be an awesome dad?   Here’s a sample of how the 8 Beatitudes can help you be the father God is calling you to be.

1. Blessed Are Dads Who Are Poor In Spirit
-Seek to be a father after THE Father’s own heart.
Being a dad is on-the-job training.  No one has it figured out.  Don’t pretend YOU do.  Go to God every day.  Ask him to teach you to be the husband and father HE wants you to be; the husband and father your wife and children NEED you to be.

2. Blessed Are The Dads Who Mourn
-Be not afraid of feelings. Empathize with your family’s tears, fears, and struggles.
In scripture, “mourning” doesn’t mean be sad so much as it means “cultivate a compassionate heart.”  It is not your job to fix or feel judged by your wife or kids feelings.  It is your job to be present to your wife and kids, to understand why they feel as they do, to show that you care, and to help them work through their feelings in godly ways

3. Blessed Are The Dads Who Are Meek
-Meekness isn’t weakness.  Cultivate the humble strength of a listening heart.
A real leader listens first.  The father who is authentically meek is not afraid to hear what his wife and children really need from him and, when necessary, doesn’t hesitate to get new skills to meet those needs.

4. Blessed Are The Dads Who Hunger And Thirst For Righteousness
-Awesome Dads are on a Mission from God.  Live for Him.  Lead your family To Him.
Research shows that when dads take the lead in prayer, faith formation, and character training, kids are exponentially more likely to live your faith and values as adults. Be the father that leads your family to THE father.

5. Blessed Are The Dads Who Are Merciful
-Be a loving mentor in your home.  Don’t break hearts. Mold them.
Don’t be “The Punisher.”  Be a mentor and teacher. Treat your children with respect. Don’t just yell or impose consequences when they mess up .  Instead, teach them how to meet their needs and express themselves in good and godly ways.

6. Blessed Are the Dads Who Are Pure in Heart
-Cherish the treasure of your wife and children. Protect their dignity. Affirm their worth
Pope St. John Paul the Great taught that the opposite of love is use.  Love makes people more people-y.  Use make people into things or tools.  Don’t treat your wife or kids as the “things” that exist to make YOUR life easier.  Set the standard for loving service in your home.

7. Blessed Are the Dads Who Are Peacemakers
-Keep your house in order.  Prioritize your family.  Protect the heart of your home.
St. Augustine said, “Peace is the tranquility of right order.”  Be the hands-on dad that makes sure your household is respectful, generous, and orderly.

8. Blessed Are the Dads Who Are Persecuted for the Sake Of Righteousness.
-The world will try to undermine your effort to be an awesome dad.  Be one anyway.
When your friends, family-of-origin, co-workers, or employers try to make you sacrifice what’s best for your family for what they want, choose your family and know God the Father will honor your sacrifice.

To discover more great ideas for becoming a father after The Father’s heart, check out The BeDADitudes: 8 Ways to Be An Awesome Dad (AveMariaPress)

Do Your Kids Have Problem Friends? 3 Things YOU Can Do

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Check out my interview with Chloe Mooradian of Aleteia’s For Her.

Your son comes home from school with a new word that his friend taught him. Your little girl’s playmates are teaching her to be a little bit sassier than you’d like. Or maybe your child was caught cheating on a test with his friend, even though you know you’ve taught him better.

As parents well know from living through our own childhoods, the influence of our kids’ friends is pretty powerful, especially when when they’re young (even as young as 3 and 4 years old) and still learning. The knee-jerk might be to yank away time with friends and put restrictions up, but that may be more of a Band aid fix to the real problem. Our children will copy the behaviors of those who they are closest with. However, if we have great, strong connections with them as parents, then the connection and influence of their peers won’t be as influential.

We asked Dr. Gregory Popcak, director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, author of the parenting guide Discovering God Together, for advice on how to help our children when their friends are bad influences, and how to help our kids become influential leaders in their own peer groups!  READ THE REST!

Kids on My Mind: Parenting Changes Dad’s Brain!


We’ve known for quite a while that parenthood facilitates changes in mom’s brain that help her be more nurturing.  It turns out that being a hands-on parent changes dad’s brain too!

“Our findings add to the evidence that fathers, and not just mothers, undergo hormonal changes that are likely to facilitate increased empathy and motivation to care for their children,” said lead author Dr. James Rilling, an Emory University anthropologist and director of the Laboratory for Darwinian Neuroscience.

The study found that oxytocin, known to be the primary hormone in bonding, is more present in involved dads and that increased levels of this hormone stimulate the brain in unique ways.  Specifically…

This heightened activity in the caudate nucleus, dorsal anterior cingulate and visual cortex suggests that doses of oxytocin may augment feelings of reward and empathy in fathers, as well as their motivation to pay attention to their children, according to the study’s findings.

The study goes on to suggest that oxytocin therapy–in which a father is dosed with a nasal spray containing oxytocin–could be a helpful treatment for dads experiencing paternal postnatal depression (PPND–which affects up to 25% of new fathers) and makes it difficult for some dads to adequately connect with their children.

St. John Paul II’s theology of the body teaches us that reflecting on God’s design of our bodies can teach us a great deal about his intention for our relationships.  One of the primary conclusions of TOB is that we were created for connection and that every part of our being cries out for union with God and the people around us. Research like this really shows that God created fathers to be connected and affectionate with their children. Not only is doing so is good for baby’s brains  (previous studies show that affectionate fathers stimulate baby’s brain in ways that help the child regulate aggression) but affectionate connection also good for dad’s physiological sense of well being.  We were created for love, and our bodies speak to this truth. Dads can’t be whole unless they embrace the psychological, spiritual, and neurological invitation to love their children as God the Father loves us.

To learn more about becoming a father after God’s own heart, check out The Be-DAD-itudes: 8 Ways to Be An Awesome Dad



3 Ways To Be A More Peaceful, Joyful Parent

Image Credit: Shutterstock. Used with permission

Image Credit: Shutterstock. Used with permission

Parenting is tough work,  But there are lots of joys too–even if we can sometimes lose sight of that.

If you are feeling a little fried in your parenting life, here are 3 simple habits  you can practice to reclaim the joy of parenthood and celebrate a more peaceful family life.

1.Find the Eye of the Hurricane– Too often, when parenting is getting stressful we think “If I can just get X to happen, THEN I’ll feel some peace”  For instance, “If I could just get this kid to behave….”  or “If I could just get the house in order….” or even “If I could just get FIVE MINUTES of peace!”  Those are all good things to work toward, but there is something we need to do first–calm down.  Find the eye of the hurricane where you can center yourself even though things around you feel out of control–and remember every hurricane has an eye. Take a breath.  Say a prayer.  Focusing on reclaiming your peace FIRST allows you to approach all those other things (like discipline, housework, or self-care) more efficiently and more effectively, but if you don’t focus on calming down BEFORE you act, you won’t be able to make the other things happen either.  As St John Bosco said, “Master your own character and then you will succeed at mastering those of your children.”

2. Collect Your Kids– Before a shepherd moves his sheep from one field to the next, he makes sure they are altogether.  He collects his sheep to him so they will follow him more readily.  If your kids are wandering–metaphorically speaking–then BEFORE you hurry them along, ask for help, or correct them, BE SURE TO COLLECT THEM.  Get down on their level.  Give them a hug.  Look at their little faces.  Give them a smile and an “I love you.”  THEN say what you need to say.  That extra 15 seconds collecting your kids on the front end will save you hours of stress on the other side.  Take a tip from the Good Shepherd and collect your kids to you correct your kids.

3.Claim Your Joy--Parenting can be stressful but stop settling for stress. No matter how stressful or chaotic the situation seems, actively work to claim your joy.  Not enjoying being a parent?  At your first opportunity, stop what you’re doing and ask yourself what you could do to bring some joy into THIS MOMENT.  Take a few minutes to cuddle with the kids. Make a silly joke.  Plan a game or fun activity.  Find SOMETHING to celebrate.  Refuse to let Satan steal the joy of parenthood.  Focus on creating joyful moments in the moment–especially when they are not happening naturally.

For more ideas on how you can be a more joyful, peaceful parent, check out Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Guide to Raising (almost) Perfect Kids, or,  for busy moms of little ones, let Then Comes Baby: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Three Years of Parenthood help you find a more life-giving balance.  Every parent deserves to feel like their relationship with their children is a cause for celebration.  If you have lost that sense, know that there really is a way to get it back.  And it might just be simpler than it seems.