“In children, we have a great charge committed to us. Let us bestow great care upon them…Form the soul of thy son aright, and all the rest will be added hereafter.” —St. John Chrysostom
We are so grateful for all the people who have emailed us encouraging words and stories of how these podcasts have touched their lives. We are MOST grateful for those people who email us questions because we can use them as topics for our podcasts! Thank you for trusting us enough to ask for our help. In this episode, we take some time to answer questions and give encouragement to those who have asked us about issues like teaching gratefulness, getting kids to sleep, and tithing. Keep those questions coming!
“Harboring unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Unforgiveness destroys marriages, relationships, families, and communities, but forgiveness is the most powerful weapon we have as Christians. When we forgive, with the grace of God, we are free from the power that any person and their actions have over us. Sometimes forgiveness seems impossible, and if it is dependent on us, then it would be. But we are not alone! Listen in as we talk about what it means to forgive and how to do it.
"The birth of Jesus brings us the good news that we are loved immensely and uniquely by God." – Pope Francis
The Advent season is more than just a countdown to Christmas. It is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ – His coming at Christmas and His second coming. The Church gives us many beautiful traditions to help us lead our family to focus beyond presents and treats to the true celebration of the gift of Jesus! In this podcast, we share some ideas and inspiration on what we do for Advent, and how to inspire your family in this journey to Bethlehem.
Show Notes: Previous podcasts of interest:
“I don't know what's more exhausting about parenting: the getting up early, or acting like you know what you're doing.” ~ Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat
Babies are a joy. If you are married without children, people will often tell you that no one can describe what it's like to be a parent, and they are right! Parenthood is something that has to be lived through to understand because you can’t explain it. God has this amazing way of combining an experience that is exciting, frustrating, amazing, and discouraging all at once. He does all this to form us into who He wants us to be, which is the best version of ourselves. In this podcast, we offer some encouragement, a dose of realism, and of course, practical advice in navigating the transition from being a married couple to being parents.
Warning! Political Talk Ahead!
"The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke
This election is a difficult one for many reasons. What is a good Catholic to do? Over the years, Mike has been involved in politics on the local, state, and federal levels. He has had time to think and pray about some principles that apply to this election in America, but also to elections in other countries and at other times. We think you will find this advice practical and helpful as we navigate these muddy waters in our election this year.
"…Do good, be rich in good deeds, and be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." - 1 Timothy 6:18-19
Where we spend our money is a very personal decision. The fruits of our labors are important, and where our money goes reflects our values. Giving money away is where the rubber hits the road in our relationship with God. How much do we recognize that we are dependent on Him? Do we really give Him all we have? Using part of our hard-earned money to serve the Lord is a reflection that our lives are given to Him. Listen in to hear our philosophy, but also some practical advice on how to discern what God is calling us to in tithing some of our resources to the service of His Kingdom.
"I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle;
I just wish He didn’t trust me so much!"
The common answer when people ask us, “How are you doing?” is often “I am so busy!” Sometimes being busy is good, when you feel as if you are cruising on the crest of a wave. But the problem is that eventually, you trip and the wave crashes over you and tumbles you into chaos. So many things about being a parent are overwhelming because much of what we are dealing with is new to us! When we are overwhelmed, we parents need to stop and reevaluate. Listen in to this podcast (our first in a few weeks! We get overwhelmed too!) where we give some sympathy and empathy, but also some good ideas of how to deal with the common parental experience of being overwhelmed.
“To love is to be vulnerable.”
- C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Many cry that marriage today is under attack, but the most powerful attack on marriage is often less like a bombardment and more like a silent cancer that creeps into our relationship with the person that we should feel totally safe with - our spouse. For our marriages to grow, we need to reveal ourselves to the other more and more, and this involves risk. For many men, the risk is looking weak. For women, the risk is getting hurt. But there really is no other option to vulnerability! In a marriage relationship, you are either growing or dying. We need to all learn how to honestly share our inmost thoughts and feelings with our spouse if our marriage is truly going to bring us life. In this podcast, we talk about what holds us back, why we should go forward, and what the fruit of vulnerability is in our marriage.
"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."
- Romans 13:1
Every day, it seems like we hear of another act of violence by police or against police. Where is the respect for authority in our culture? How can we teach respect to our children? Actually, the more important question is why should we teach that to our children? In this podcast, we talk about the importance of respect for authority because authority ultimately comes from God. Our current culture engenders disrespect for authority. We need to change that, starting with our own family.
"I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people brothers or sisters. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood or brotherhood is a condition people have to work at."
– Maya Angelou
Growing up, all each of us remembers was fighting with our siblings. Now, they are our best friends, an integral part of our identity. How did that happen? Creating an environment in which siblings can form sisterhood and brotherhood should be an essential part of your parenting playbook. Your children’s relationships need to survive distance, conflict, and the test of time long after you and your spouse are gone. How do you do that now? How do you make that a priority in your family? Listen in as we share our experiences as siblings and as parents in a large Catholic family.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” - Matthew 6:26-27
Parents worry about so many things. When you have kids, it's like part of your heart is walking around outside of you! But Christ commands us not to worry. In this podcast, we ask: what is worth the mental and emotional energy of concern on your part, and what is not? We also discuss some of the common things that parents worry about, and the Catholic response to worry.
“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Our faith celebrates and values children and openness to life, so having one child or no children can be particularly painful for Catholic couples who long for a big family. To discuss this topic on a personal level, we interviewed Brad and Jessica Sheguit, Alicia’s sister and brother-in-law who have carried this burden for over seven years. In this podcast, Brad and Jessica share their struggles and give advice on how to support couples who carry this hidden cross.
Every single person has a different perspective when looking at the same thing.
How many times in our marriage do we come into conflict with our spouse over things that are not moral issues, just differences in opinion? It happens pretty often, especially when you are first starting out and beginning your family. In this podcast, we help you to see that those differences are actually gifts. We just need to figure out how to discuss our differences in a productive way. Many of our examples for this podcast come from listener emails that we felt were important to respond to.
You can’t put your head in the sand. If you don’t bring up tough issues with your child, they are going to encounter those issues, but from someone else's perspective.
When do you bring up sticky issues with your kids? It’s so hard to know when and if you should discuss things like terrorism, abortion, or where babies come from. Kids bring up topics at the most inconvenient times! Plus, life is messy and as much as we would like to keep our children innocent forever, that is just not possible. In this podcast, we share some of our experiences and give some guidelines on how we have handled these issues with our kids. Listen in and let the conversation begin.
"Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don’t need a lot of money to be happy – in fact, the opposite."
~ Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche
Relationships are a complicated thing, but somehow we can’t live without them. Just as it is not good for a man to be alone, it is also not good for a family to be alone. We are created to live in community. How do we do this when our lifestyles tend to isolation? How do you find community with people who share your values? How do you create community where there is none? In this podcast, we share some experiences and ideas on how to form meaningful relationships with other people, and why this is vital to the health of Catholic families.
The phrase “working mother” is redundant.
First, let’s be clear – deciding if Mom should work outside the home is not a moral issue. It is a personal decision made by couples in light of their priorities. In this day and age, most mothers have to work outside the home at some point. Some moms have home businesses, some work part-time, some work full-time, some are able to not work at all. No matter what, the employment decision is a difficult one for families. In our family, Alicia has worked part-time and full-time, so we have had to wrestle with many of these issues. Here are some questions for couples to discuss: Do we appreciate the role of a mom and how she contributes to the household by the work she is doing at home? How are we balancing the needs of our children with the financial needs of our family? If mom is working, what is our financial plan?
We also responded to a listener's question about having more children when the mom has to work in order to keep the family afloat.
Being a working mom is not easy – you have to be willing to screw up at every level. ~ Jami Gertz
“The Lord gave me this challenging child for a purpose. He wants me to mold and shape this youngster and prepare him or her for a life of service to Him.”
― James C. Dobson
This episode is really meant for parents of little kids who cause problems. Such as toddlers who push other kids, kids whom they really like but don't know how to play with. The reaction of our society to these children (who are usually boys) ranges from disbelieving shock (“How could that child DO such a thing?”) to indifference (“He is just going through a stage”), but neither response is really the right one. Little guys like this are just amazing bundles of raw personality! But these little personalites need to be formed and trained by their parents – and yes, that means you. It can be truly embarrassing to have an aggressive child, but get used to it because your child is just beginning his work of embarrassing you! We also have some advice for kids at the other end of the spectrum - those who get picked on and pushed over. They too need to learn the right way to respond that will not teach them to be a doormat, which is not what we want our children to be. We also respond to a listener question from our podcast on Criticizing your husband.
When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.
Wives: which statement do you agree with more, regarding your husband? “I don’t know how I could live without him” or “I don’t know how he could live without me.” Do we treat our husbands like a child? Do we criticize our husbands in public or to our friends? Criticism doesn’t achieve the change women are looking for -- ever! Attacking the need to be respected is a sure way to put your marriage on the road to danger. How can wives speak to their husbands respectfully? How can husbands and wives work as a team to improve their marriage and their lives?
Being disrespected rarely motivates a man.
“I have this problem with low self-esteem, which is really ridiculous when you consider how amazing I am.”
~ the modern child
Raising confident children is the obsession of many parents today. Cries of “Good job!” “You can do it!” “You are awesome!” can be heard in playgrounds, sporting events, and auditoriums all over the country. Is this really how we should ground our children and help them to be the best they can be? The key to self-esteem is not what you do, but who you are. Who are you? You are a child of God, created in His image. Listen in as we delve into this topic and explore how we can communicate to our children a true confidence based on reality.
Some questions to start a discussion:
'Spend’ your time on paper before you ‘spend’ it in reality
“How do you do it?” People ask us this question all the time, so we finally decided to answer it, at least in part. In this podcast, we share why a routine is important and why families should budget their time, just as they budget their money. How do you make up this “budget”? Decide what your values are, then decide how they should be evidenced in your routine. As usual, we give some principles, and then some specifics on how you can make a routine for your family that reflects your values and ideals.
Show Notes: We referenced these other podcasts:
"…I promise to be true to you in good times and bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life." ~ Wedding Vows
Our wedding was a day to remember for many reasons. First of all, we each married our best friend and began the greatest adventure of our lives. Also, it was a complete disaster by wedding standards. An ice storm in Philadelphia caused power outages, hazardous driving conditions, and canceled plans for many of our guests. In this podcast, we share our story so all of you can feel great about your weddings, even if they didn’t go as planned!
A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime ~ Engaged Encounter slogan
"Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.”
~Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego
The Virgin Mary is not only a model and intercessor for us to Jesus, but she is also our Mother. She is the crown of God’s creation and a great gift to us from the Father. Who is this woman? Why is she so special? Why should we introduce our children to her? In this podcast, we answer these questions while sharing our own experiences and thoughts on this amazing woman.