work & home,
time & money,
spouse & children,


Parents start out with dreams for their newborn child. “Perhaps this one will be the one to cure cancer, to become president, to bring world peace.” With time, however, most parents’ dreams are moderated by reality.

But as much as we pour ourselves out for our children, it is the strange irony of parenthood, that the child forms us as much as we form the child. We become more generous, more patient, more skilled at conflict resolution, not because we seek these traits, but because children require it of us. They pull us into virtues we may not have chosen to cultivate on our own.

is a

It takes a village to raise a child.

        – Technology Tips for Families

        – Busyness, Media, Morality, Fighting, Consumerism, Service, Faith, & more.

        – Tips & Topics for Family Nights

        – Using the Pledge of Nonviolence

– Balancing Family, Work, and Life

        – What’s Important, What’s Not, What’s Left

    – Guidelines for TV, Computers, Movies, and Music

        – The Use and Abuse of Family Meeting

Parenting Policies During the Early Years
17 Prime Things I Learned on the Way to Becoming a Parent
Golf, Parenting, and Terrorism

Confessions of an Imperfect Parent
Parenting Imperfect Kids
Ode to Single Parents
The Rise and Fall of the Holy Family
Tables Turned (parenting young adults)

When Children Become Adults (reflections on relating to your young adult children)

The Family Jeopardy Quiz
Family Life – Just Playin’ Around

Parenting Policies During the Early Years
What Every Parent Should Know about the Internet
Is It Necessary to the Plot?

Children, Money, and Values
To Work or Not To Work – Outside the Home
Was There Life Before Video Games?

Beyond Squabbling
Family Pledge of Nonviolence
Parenting Policies During the Early Years
Golf, Parenting, and Terrorism

An Ode to Single Parents

Are You a Slave to Your Children’s Sports

To Work or Not To Work – Outside the Home
The Grass Always Seems Greener on the Other Side
Was There Life Before Video Games

Beyond Grace & Bedtime
But Church Bores Me!
Children, Money, and Values
Family Service Ideas
Raising Children Who Care (about each other and the earth)
Who’s More Cultured

To Work or Not To Work – Outside the Home
The Grass Always Seems Greener on the Other Side

click on the title below to view


BALANCING ACT - Getting Control of Time

A PIECE OF THE PIE - What's Fair and What's Not?


FORGIVE & FORGET - Dealing with Family Fights


LIFE & DEATH - Looking at Fall, Halloween, and Letting Go

MY GRANDMA'S GRANDMA - Exploring our ethnic roots

MYSTERY OF GROWTH - Spring planting


THE GOLDEN RULE REVISED - Reversing the Wisdom


WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER - Can One Family Save the Earth?


The No-Cry Discipline Solution – by Elizabeth Pantley (McGraw Hill, 2007)
After I got past the title of this book (which seemed overly idealistic to me) I found this to be one of the best comprehensive and practical parenting books. It deals with the typical problems parents encounter with children birth to about 10.

1-2-3 Magic – Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan (ParentMagic, Inc. Glen Ellyn, IL, ©2003, $15)
Of all the child discipline books I've read, this is the simplest and most effective. I've used it in foreign cultures where the subtleties of language are a challenge. It's easy to understand and follow; a basic primer for any parent.

Family First
Mark Merrill offers daily parenting tips often linked to longer articles to help parents build healthy families. To sign up for Family Minute with Mark Merrill go to

Building a Family – A Handbook for Parenting with God by Marilyn Krock (Paulist Press, New York, ©2003, $15)
There’s not much new in this book but that’s not bad. It’s a plain worded collection of parenting guidelines that family life educators have been collecting for years. The beauty of this book is that it’s all in one place. Covers the waterfront.

The Book of New Family Traditions – How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Everyday by Meg Cox (Running Press, Philadelphia, ©2003, $13)
Homegrown rituals are the stuff of memory building. The author gives lots of starter ideas for family traditions and helps you understand the elements of building special family occasions so that you can create your own. Very creative.

How to Negotiate with Kids by Scott Brown (Viking Penguin, NY, ©2003, $25)
Lots of practical scenarios illustrate how to get out of power struggles with your children and create win/win solutions by one of the founders of the Harvard Negotiation Project.

Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference: Helping Your Family Live with Integrity, Value Simplicity, and Care for Others by Susan V. Vogt. (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2002, $13.95)
Insights and tips for raising children to make a positive impact in our world. A unique aspect of this book are the contributions not only of parents but also the reflections of young adults on what influenced them to make decisions to serve others.

Daily Meditations for Busy Parents by Tom McGrath (Acta Publications, 2002, $9.95)
Raising a family and don’t think you have time to pray? Try these one-minute meditations with scripture that start with a human story and help you connect those dirty diapers with spirituality.

The Simpler Family by Christine Klein (Robins Lane Press, 2001, $16.95)
Many of us yearn for a simpler family life but dual careers or lack of money may make it seem like a pipe dream. Chris Klein quit her job in marketing and shares numerous ways that she learned to organize her household so that her children got more of her time without breaking the bank.

Living Simply with Children by Marie Sherlock (Three Rivers Press, New York, ©2003, $12.95)
In these days when so many of us need to downsize, and it’s not always voluntary, this book describes both the “whys” and the “how to's” of living a simpler life and spending less money doing it. Inspirational parenting web site
This is a practical and inspiring web site for parents. It takes highlights from the popular monthly newsletter “At Home With Our Faith” put out by Tom McGrath and published by Claretian Publications. In addition it does helpful reviews of some of the best children’s and parenting literature. On-line at least once a day? Here’s a way to pray while checking your e-mail. Click on “Weekly Meditation” Each Monday a short, quality, free meditation will appear. Definitely worth a look.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey. New York: Golden Books, ©1997. $34
Steven Covey adapts his famous guidelines for becoming a highly effective person to the family setting. It’s good but expensive.

Tired of Arguing with your Kids? by Dolores Curran. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, ©1999. $13
In Curran’s time honored style of good sense mixed with humor she helps parents with the nitty gritty of what to actually do and say. It’s one thing for an author to tell us to set boundaries or ignore fights and whining, it’s quite another to tell us how to get “unhooked”.

They’re Your Kids Not Your Friends by Shirlee Smith. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, © 2001. $12.
This book was a real surprise to me. First I read the author’s bio saying she was a welfare mother. Not the usual credentials for a parenting educator. As I read, however, I liked its down to earth, readable style. It was only after 6 chapters that I guessed it might be written by an African-American mother. Humbled by the stereotype flouting style of this book, I’d say it’s a book for all parents.

Raising Faith-Filled Kids. Tom McGrath. Chicago, IL Loyola Press, © 2000. $12.95.
A down to earth book to inspire parents to see the holy in the course of every day parenting.

Escaping the Family Time Trap by Barbara DeGrote-Sorensen and David Allen Sorensen. Minneapolis: Augsburg, © 2001. $11.
One of the most balanced and practical books I’ve read on making wise use of our time. Doesn’t waste words. Worth your time.

Making God Visible – Parenting Young Children by Kathleen O’Connell Chesto. Liguori, MO: Liguori, ©2001.
This six session faith-sharing booklet for small communities is produced by RENEW. If you like the Renew format and have a group of parents with young child, this would be a helpful resource.

Growing Compassionate Kids by Jan Johnson. Upper Room Books, Nashville, TN ©2001. To order:

Prayers for Parents by Renee Bartkowski. Liguori, Liguori, MO ©2001 To order: 1-800-325-9521

The Right Stuff for Children Birth to 8: Selecting Play Materials to Support Development. Bronson, M. Washington, DC: NAEYC, © 1995

Remote Control Childhood? Combating the Hazards of Media Culture. Levin, D.E. Washington, DC: NAEYC, © 1998

Selling Out Americas Children. Walsh, D. Minneapolis: Fairview Press © 1995. Available through the national Institute on Media and the Family (

Sticks and Stones – 7 Ways Your Child Can Deal with Teasing, Conflict, and Other hard Times. Scott Cooper. NY, NY: Times Books, 2000. Cost: $13.00.
Helpful teaching techniques for both parents and teachers in an easy to understand format.

Take Back Your Kids – Confident Parenting in Turbulent Times. William Doherty. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2000. $12.95.

Families Creating a Circle of Peace” Video
25 minute video of 7 different families describing their efforts to live out the Family Pledge of Nonviolence. Produced locally with families from the Diocese of Covington, this is a great resource to help move families from “Yeah, this pledge sounds fine, maybe we’ll do it someday.” to “O.K., let’s make a difference in how our family treats people, NOW!”
Cost: $10 video, $5 booklet (Quantity discounts available) Order from the Family Ministry Office (859) 283-6290

"Helping Children Deal with Divorce" Helpful article with lots of even more helpful links.

All Pro Dad
All Pro Dad is a program of Family First. Their website offers fathers interactive quizzes and activities designed to further improve their relationship with their children.
609 W. De Leon Street, Tampa, FL 33606
Phone: 813-222-8300
Web Site:

Daddyhood – This Changes Everything. Daniel W. Driscoll. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, ©2002. $12
25 short, whimsical stories about the nature of becoming a Dad. Geared to fathers of preschoolers. Would make a nice Father’s Day gift.

Effective Father Seminars – Practical Guide for Christian Fathers and Grandfathers by John Ream. Coral Springs, FL $100 (includes video & audio tapes plus 5 books) Velvet and Steel $14. To order: (877) 510-4555 or e-mail at
This is a do-it-yourself program for small groups of fathers complete with a book Velvet and Steel and audio tape and two video tapes. Christos Center is a ministry founded by Larry Pesavento and based at 9 E. 12th St., Covington, KY 41011 (859) 431-5952.
This web site provides articles to help men reflect on manhood and has some nice coming of age rituals for fathers and their teenage sons.

Weaving Faith & Family … When You’re Hanging on by a Thread by Eileen Marx., Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, Ó1999. $15.
52 weeks worth of reflections and ideas to nurture your children’s faith throughout the year

I’m Counting to 10 – Hope and Humor for Frazzled Parents by Jahnna Beecham & Malcolm Hillgartner. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, ©2001. $13.
This is a fun read for parents of young children if you just want to chuckle a little this summer.

When our children were younger, singing always made long car trips more pleasant. One thing we often find in group singing, however, is that lots of people know the first couple lines of a song and then it fades out. Here are some of our family’s favorite aids. Also good for campfire singing, etc. The public library also has stories on tape. Check them out.

Rise up Singing – The Group Singing Songbook. by Peter Blood and Annie Patterson. Words and chords to 1200 Songs. Sing Out Publications, Bethlehem, PA (215) 865-5366 $16.

Rainbow People - Audiotape by Susan Stark. (includes “Simple Gifts”, “Garden Song”, “Happy Wanderer”, “All God’s Critters” etc.) $10.

Teaching Peace – Audiotape or CD by Red Grammer. $10.

SEXUAL ABUSE St. Mary’s Press
Tragedy and Healing web site has a helpful section entitled Walking With Teens in Hope which deals with pastoral responses to our youth on the topic of clergy sexual abuse. This site also provides links to a number of other related web sites.

Savoring God by Kathleen Finley. Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN ©2003, $12.95
Over 25 prompts to prayer using the ordinary items that we find around the house. Creative, inspiring.

Affluenza by John de Graaf, Wann, & Naylor. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler. ©2001. $25.
Based on the award winning PBS special, this book documents everything you’d want to know about simplifying your lifestyle. Videotape also available.

God Help Me! These People Are Driving Me Nuts – Making Peace with Difficult People by Gregory Popcak (Loyola Press, 2001, 800-621-1008)
Offers ways to apply our Christian beliefs in dealing with difficult relationships. Uses engaging case studies and challenging exercises.

God Knows We Get Angry – Healthy Ways to Deal with It (Sorin Books, 2002, 800-282-2865)
Stories and exercises to assist in the journey from anger and resentments to forgiveness and freedom from memories of hurt and rejection.

Treasury of Celebrations: Create Celebrations That Reflect Your Values and Don't Cost the Earth, free online from Simple Living Works! (formerly Alternatives)

Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? Sioux City, IA: Alternatives © 2004.
An annual online resource of creative ways to help your family enter into the simple spirit of Christmas, free from Simple Living Works (formerly Alternatives).

"Work of Human Hands" catalog.
Call (800) 422-5915 to request a free individual retail catalog from Catholic Relief Services, in partnership with SERRV International

spirituality@work – 10 ways to balance your life on-the-job by Gregory Pierce. Chicago: Loyola Press, ©2001. $18.
This is not your typical book on spirituality. It is focused on an area of our lives that is viewed by some as outside the realm of spirituality. It uses the language of the workplace rather than the language of religion to talk about spiritual matters. A true guide to unpacking the laity’s role in the marketplace.

Blessings for the Fast Paced & Cyberspaced; Parables, Reflections and Prayers. William John Fitzgerald. Leavenworth, KS, © 2000 Forest of Peace Publishing. $12.95.
Prayers and stories for modern day life.

Welcome Your Child – Family Enrichment at Baptism and Beyond. Family Life Office, Archdiocese of Omaha. (888) 874-2684.
Comprehensive program with an extensive manual which guides leaders through three stages of early parenthood – Birth to 12 months, 12-18 months, and 18-24 months. Great background, input, and creative rituals.

Parent Mailings for Baby’s First Year. Family Life Office, Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. (814) 886-5551. $5.50/packet. Bulk discounts available.
Packet includes Baby’s First Year Calendar plus six mailings to be sent to new parents during their baby’s first year of life. Mailings include developmental background along with prayers and rituals. Appropriate for married or single parents, Catholic or ecumenical marriages.

To Seal & Strengthen Love – A Resource Manual for Ministry with Newly Married Couples by Mary Ann Paulukonis (NACFLM, 2002, $12.95)
Helpful strategies, programs, and resources for those involved with ministry to young marrieds.

Kids Creating Circles of Peace. Susan Vogt & Anne Marie Hansen. St. Louis, MO: Institute for Peace and Justice, 2000. $4.95 (quantity discounts).
This 36 pg. booklet is geared to classroom use for grades K-6 and contains story starters to help children think through how they would handle typical conflict situations in their everyday life. This is the most recent resource that supports the Pledge of Nonviolence.

It’s Not the Same Without You – Coming Home to the Catholic Church by Mitch Finley (Doubleday ©2003, $12.95)
Challenging book that seeks to understand why many Catholics left the Church, why they decide to return, and what pastoral leaders can do to help.

At Home with our Faith – Nurturing the Spirituality of Families” Chicago, IL: Claretian Publications. $12/yr. (800) 328-6515

Family Ministry – A Comprehensive Guide by Diana R. Garland. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. Ó1999. Source book for the professional family life minister.

Simple Living Works! (formerly Alternatives for Simple Living)
This organization "equips people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly, and celebrate responsibly." All resources and services are free online.
Gerald Iversen, Chief Activist
Phone: 805-400-0182
Web Site:

At Home With Our Faith
A monthly newsletter and website for parents that provides ideas and resources to help pass on a living faith. Sponsored by the Claretians, publishers of "U.S. Catholic"
Mary Lynn Hendrickson, Editor
205 W. Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60606-5033
Phone: 312-236-7782
Fax: 312-236-8207
Web Site:

Center for Ministry Development
Provides ministry education for leaders, ministry development training and resources, programs and publication in family ministry, intergenerational faith formation, youth ministry and young adult ministry.
Tom East, Director
John Roberto, Family and Intergeneration Project Coordinator
P.O. Box 699, 175 Church St., Naugatuck, CT 06770
Phone: 203-723-1622
Fax: 203-723-1624
Web Site:

Christian Family Movement
A national network of families, working at the grassroots level of daily, ordinary family life to support each other and reach out to others to make this world a better place.
Jane & Paul Leingang, Executive Directors
P.O. Box 925, Evansville, IN 47706-0925
Phone: 812-962-5508
Fax: 812-962-5509
Web Site:

Guide to Keeping Your Kids Secure Online.
This online infographic was created by Maryville University and is a handy guide to help parents safely navigate your child’s time on the internet.
Web Site:

Couple to Couple League
Provides quality Natural Family Planning services throughout the world in order to strengthen the family.
P.O. Box 111184, Cincinnati, OH 45211-1184
Phone: 800-745-8252
Web Site:

Effective Father Seminars
For assistance in your efforts to become a more effective father or grandfather
1750 University Dr., Suite 214, Coral Springs, FL 33071
Phone: 877-510-4555
Fax: 954-341-4765
Web Site:

Family First
Mark Merrill offers daily parenting tips often linked to longer articles to help parents build healthy families.
To sign up for Family Minute with Mark Merrill go to the website below.
609 W. De Leon Street, Tampa, FL 33606
Phone: 813-222-8300
Web Site:

Holy Family Ministry
An organization which seeds to inspire families through its “A Quiet Moment” sculpture, a visual prayer of the Holy Family.
Tony Frey
P.O. Box 424, Kitchener, ON, Canada N2G 3Y9
Phone: 877-232-2203
Fax: 519-742-1273
Web Site:

Institute for Peace and Justice Network
A network of families and leaders working to make their own families more caring and to make our world a better place. Initiators of FAVAN (Families Against Violence Advocacy Network). Provides workshops, resources, and support.
Kathy McGinnis, Director (founders: Jim & Kathy McGinnis)
475 East Lockwood Ave., St. Louis, MO 63119
Phone: 314-918-2630
Fax: 314-918-2643
The Institute for Peace and Justice
Web Site:

Provides a bridge to emotional healing for children, adolescents and adults confronting death, divorce or other painful family transition.
Suzy Yehl Marta
2100 Golf Rd. #370, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008-4231
Phone: 800-266-3206, 847-952-1770
Fax: 847-952-1774
Web Site:

Spiritual Parenting
A free, monthly on-line newsletter that provides action based ideas for raising happy, kind children who remain connected to their spirits and their families. To subscribe, go to the website below and click newsletter.
Mimi Doe

P.O. Box 157, Concord, Massachusetts 01742
Phone: (978) 369-7479
Web Site:

Weekly Meditations for Busy Parents
A free weekly e-mail service that provides a spiritual insight for active parents. This is a service of At Home with our Faith newsletter and is sponsored by the Claretian Missionaries. To subscribe, go to the website below and click on Weekly Meditation.
Mary Lynn Hendrickson, Editor
205 W. Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60606-5033
Phone: 312-236-7782
Web Site:


From June 6, 2003 to November 2009 below.
From November 2011 to present go to

Search under #ParentingPointer

 If you are a pastoral minister or marriage and family educator, you are welcome to reprint these in bulletins, your church or agency website, or other similar resource as long as you use the credit line:
"by Susan Vogt,".
If you use these on a website, please also link to my website.
You may also send these out to your own database. Please abide by the following:
1. Send e-mails only to people who request it, i.e. "opt in"
2. Use the entire quote.
3. Include the credit line: "by Susan Vogt,"
All Parenting Pointers are by Susan Vogt unless otherwise noted.
I do not share names or addresses with anyone else.

1. Don't think that you have to rush in with a solution to every problem your child has. Sometimes all that a child needs is your listening presence to figure out his or her own solution.

2. "We are responsible for the process we use in parenting, not the outcome. Our children have free will and can choose their own paths, even destructive ones. We can guide. but we can't control. Sometimes all we can do is pray." (Susan Vogt, Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference)

3. Discipline does not mean punishment. The purpose of discipline is to help your child learn to become responsible. Allow your child to experience the consequences of his or her actions. If a child chooses not to study for a test, she will get a poor grade. If he leaves his bicycle out in the yard, it may get rusty or stolen. If she does not set her alarm, she may miss the school bus. These may seem like hard lessons, but better to learn them when the stakes are low than when losing a job or having an untimely pregnancy might be the consequence.

4. Don't downplay your teen's troubles even if you think they are trivial. Teens are working on the skills they need to become functioning adults. Offer support in the form of listening. What may seem small to you may be very big to your teen. Actually this same maxim works for children of all ages.

5. "Special events can be scheduled; crises and spontaneity cannot. A year or two may pass before your child is willing to show you that secret hideout in the woods. Catching a teenager in the right mood can take longer." (Susan Vogt, Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) Take some time today.

6. When your child has a problem and wants your help or input, and you are caught off guard, try saying 'Tell me more about that.' or 'What do YOU think you should do?' Responses like this can buy you time and clarify the situation.

7. "Consistency in discipline establishes guidelines children can learn and follow. If a parent says no to a request a dozen times, then relents and says yes, the child learns that pestering succeeds." (Marilyn S. Krock, Building a Family)

8. You don’t have to be perfect. Lighten up on yourself. Parenting is a tough job.

9. “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other is wings." (Hodding Carter) If YOUR life is rooted in faith, let your child see it. If your child takes a different path, believe that the Spirit will take care of him or her. As a parent of adult children your job is to let go but not give up.

10. "Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing." (Albert Schweitzer) Is there a trait that you would like to foster in your child? How can you model that behavior this week in your own life?

11. “What’s so sacred about dinner? It happens every day. We face one another. We eat. We talk. It doesn’t matter that some of the talk is trivial or full of complaints. We share our day, warts and all. It doesn’t matter if the food is plain or even unappetizing. We have food. It doesn’t even matter if we come to the table angry with one another or if we get angry as a result of being together. We have to deal with the people who push our buttons – and then push beyond it. We might even find the grace to forgive.” (Susan Vogt, Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference)

12. “Next time you find the words ‘Because I said so!’ on the tip of your tongue, replace them with ‘Because I love you!’ Rather than yelling, you may find yourself thinking, It’s true, I want you to do your homework because I think it’s best for you, and I love you.” (Scott Brown, How to Negotiate with Kids…even when you think you shouldn’t)

13. “Your life is more than your work and your work is more than your job.” (from the song by the same name by Charlie King) Is your ‘job’ getting in the way of your family relationships? Both are important but as another song puts it, “Can’t buy me love.”

14. “Don’t rush to supply activities when your child whines, ‘I don’t have anything to do!’ A certain amount of boredom is a pre-requisite for creativity.” (Jim Vogt)

15. “Look at the advertisements in the paper this weekend. List ten things you don’t need.” (from the Family Memory Calendar, Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, 814-886-5551) Free your family of unnecessary clutter and stuff.

16. Remember, your children are not a reflection of you. They are souls placed on this earth by God with their own unique purpose. Our job, as parent and guide, is to help them identify this purpose.

17. Let your children know when you see them acting responsibly, taking initiative, or being helpful. Use phrases like, ‘I appreciate that’ or a simple ‘Thank you’.

18. “A toy or experience that has been ‘longed for’ is much more appreciated. Ungrateful children usually have too much stuff.” (Susan Vogt, Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) Don’t let guilt cause you to mistake a child’s desire for a command.

19. It’s usually easy to pray for our own children. Their needs are so apparent to us. Since October is Respect Life month, pray today, NOW, THIS MOMENT, not only for your own children, but for all children in our world, both born and unborn; for all lives that are threatened or suffering.

20. “Where you put your time, you put your life.” (Clayton Barbeau) Next week is Take Back Your Family Time Week. What are your deepest values? Does the way you spend your time reflect these? If not, why not? Take charge.

21. The bottom line of TV programming is not to entertain us but to sell us something. Entertainment is simply the vehicle. Once children (or adults) understand this, they can watch commercials with a more critical eye. This also means that as consumers we should let the networks know what programs we find uplifting and informative and which are destructive to our family life. Make purchases based on this.

22. “When my children were young, I did a lot of my praying while carpooling. There always seemed to be waiting periods.” (Marilyn S. Krock, Building a Family) What are typical waiting periods in your life? Doctor’s appointments? Red lights? Commercials? Check out lanes? Waiting for a baby to fall asleep? Use these as a prompt to pray for the people around you rather than getting impatient with them.

23. All of us procrastinate at times. Perhaps we are busy or want to avoid doing something. The Christian Family Movement has a saying that I often use to help me decide if the procrastination is warranted or an escape.
Is there something that you’ve been putting off until the kids are older, the house paid for, your teeth are flossed? Relationships don’t always wait for some day or one day.

24. “When we lose our tempers, we also lose our parenting skills. We stop listening and start reacting. As I learned long ago when working with negotiators, if we want to deal well with differences, we need to deal first with our emotions.” (Scott Brown, How to Negotiate with Kids…even when you think you shouldn’t) What helps YOU calm down?

25. Next week is Thanksgiving. In the mood for a family game? Try the old I'm going to the grocery store game but substitute This Thanksgiving I am thankful for... For those who didn't grow up with this way of passing time on long car trips, you start with ‘A’ and continue through the alphabet accumulating words till you get to ‘Z’ and have 26 different thankful items. If your children are too young (or you too old) to do this individually, the whole family can recite the alphabet litany of thanks together.

26. It’s Thanksgiving weekend! By now the feast is probably over, the house cluttered with stuff or people. Or perhaps you’re traveling. In the hecticness of preparing for the holiday have you thanked God that you had a house to gather in, enough food to share, money to buy ‘stuff’ (even some non-essential stuff), family and friends with whom to share memories? It’s not too late to tell each person you see this weekend something you appreciate about him or her.

27. “Look at your junk mail or a milk carton. Pray for missing children.” (from the Family Memory Calendar, Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, 814-886-5551) Are you missing yours? Don’t miss out.

28. “Children benefit from our ‘presence’ more than our ‘presents’”.(Susan Vogt, Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference). During this Advent ponder the tone that time with your family will take during this time before Christmas.

29. When a friend of mine was out of work his family decided to have a “moneyless” Christmas – only handmade gifts and services. It’s probably too late (and perhaps undesirable) for you to do likewise this year, but it’s not too late to think of one gift of service to do for or with your child during the 12 days of Christmas. (Examples: repair a broken toy or clean their room. Also think of serving the community together by visiting a lonely person, cleaning up a park, etc.)


30. It’s over; but it’s just begun. Christmas that is. The shopping and unwrapping are probably over but the 12 days of Christmas are just beginning. Why not play a family game each of these 12 days even if one of them is just sharing jokes and riddles. A different person could choose each day.

31. On the 9th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me – 9 ladies dancing…
On this 9th Day of Christmas may I suggest that dancing is not only for ladies and that true love is not only for the engaged or newlyweds. One of the activities that most lifts my own spirits is dancing. Try it with your child(ren). It needn't be ballroom, it needn't have partners, it needn't even be good dancing. Share a dance from your childhood with your children. It could be serious or silly, from the waltz to the hokey pokey. Let them share their style of dance with you – if you dare. If you absolutely refuse to dance, take those two left feet and take a walk with a Walkman this weekend. Moving together can be joyous.

32. We must have places where children can have a whole group of adults they can trust. (Margaret Mead) Does your family have such a community?

33. Gimme, get me, I want it, I saw it on TV! This is a jingo we used to make fun of with our kids. Although TV is a frequent companion in most of our homes, we needn’t be a slave to it. Sometimes humor can help. Today, can you and your child identify one item advertised on TV that you really don’t need. Laugh together about how ridiculous it is that the advertiser presented it as a life necessity.

34. You carry out the mission of the church of the home in ordinary ways when…you pray together…You know as you gather – restless toddlers, searching teenagers, harried adults – that God answers all prayers, but sometimes in surprising ways. (Follow the Way of Love, USCCB) Looking back on the past year, can you identify a prayer that has been answered?

35. “Live beneath your means. Many people in the world don’t have a choice.” (Family Memory Calendar, Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown 814-886-5551). Let your child pick one household item that you can give away this week.

36. “It is easier to build a child than to repair an adult.” (Marilyn Krock, Caring Family Resources) Think about this the next time you’re tempted to say, “Later, dear” or “Can’t it wait”, or “We’ll do it tomorrow (or next week)”.

37. Got bully problems? Prevention tips:
1. Avoid the situation, i.e. walk home by a different route.
2. Stick together in groups with buddies.
3. Invite the bully to be part of YOUR group.
4. Develop a self confident attitude.

38. Self-deprecation can be disarming. Tell a silly story on yourself from your youth. Your child may be relieved that you made mistakes too. Teens often appreciate the role reversal. It might even generate an evening of reminiscing.

39. Christ died for us. As parents we give our lives daily for our children. Overlook one fault of your child today. (You can catch up later.)

40. Got bully problems? Action steps:
1. Calmly walk away
2. Tell an adult
3. Use “I” statements like, “I don’t agree.”
4. Use humor to deflect
5. Brainstorm other alternatives with your child.
Helpful books: Sticks and Stones by Scott Cooper, Bullies and Victims by SuEllen Fried and Paula Fried.

41. “What is the cost to society of a generation of kids who know how to run a computer program but not their lives?” (Susan Vogt, Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) Do your elementary age children know how to keep track of their homework and commitments without your nagging? Do your teens know how manage their money and apply for a job? Coach them in these vital life skills. Yes, they can use a computer to help.

42. God spoke to St. Joseph through a dream. Did you have a dream last night? Recently? What dream do you have for your life? For the life of your child?

43. If you haven’t already, alert your children that they should tell you when ANYONE touches them inappropriately. Sexual abuse by those in positions of authority is tragic, even more so when perpetrated by clergy who hold positions of trust. Victims deserve the Church’s ongoing support, apology, and reparation. Clergy of integrity, however, are also suffering because of the sins of their colleagues. Write, call, or e-mail a minister, priest, or religious who has served you well.

44. Lent is a time of penance and purification but we needn’t walk around with sour faces. Did you do anything foolish on April Fool’s Day? Healthy families laugh together. Does your family have any running jokes? One of ours is to put a carrot down someone’s back, in a shoe, etc. You never know where it will turn up. It’s silly. It’s fun. What are your family jokes?

45. “In a family you don’t have to look very far to find your cross,” a father observes in Follow the Way of Love, USCCB. Who in your family seems to have a mission to purify YOU today, to teach you patience, to challenge your temper? What cross do you bring to the others in your family?

46. April 19-25 is “TV Turn-off Week”. Ask your family if they are up to the challenge. Surprise yourselves with non screen based entertainment. If you don’t want to go cold turkey, perhaps you could make a commitment to only watch shows the whole family can watch together.

47. Learn something from your child today. (For example: from an infant it might be to let others care for you; from a school age child it could be a tip about technology, from a teen it might be a cutting edge movie or song, from a young adult it might be an insight about relationships)

48. "Raising healthy children is a labor-intensive operation...most of what children need, money cannot buy." (The Shelter of Each Other, by Mary Pipher) Do you know your child's real needs -- or even preferences? What's his/her most valued possession, favorite color, rock group, animal, way to relax, song, hero, place in the world, virtue? What current political issue does your child care about? Check out if you're right.

49. Some children are easier to raise than others. Some parents have calmer dispositions than others. No matter how good a parent you are, however, chances are you will lose your temper sometimes. What does your child do that triggers impatience or anger in you? In the next few weeks I’ll share some temper taming tips.

50. Temper Taming Tip #1
Check your own temperature first? Maybe you’re tired after a long day or feel stressed or worried. Try strengthening your resistance. Taking a short nap helps some. (If you can nap while your child is sleeping or while a friend briefly watches your child that’s great, but many of us don’t have this luxury.) For the rest of us it might mean taking time to listen to quiet music together, waiting for a spouse to spell you, taking a bath or a walk. Experiment.

51. Temper Taming Tip #2
A child’s disobedience can trigger rage from a parent. Try pre-empting your anger with a plan. Inform your child (ideally after discussion) of what consequence will follow disobedience. For example, if she doesn’t put her toys away, you will remove them for a week. If he doesn’t abide by curfew, he will be grounded for a week. Once everyone knows the plan, don’t yell, just calmly enforce it.

52. Temper Taming Tip #3
Noise can lower your resistance to anger. If whining, TV, play, or crowds are getting too loud and on your nerves, lower the decibel level starting with your own. Call for a ‘Quiet Time Out’. For example, turn off the TV, have everyone go outside (or at least to separate rooms), ask people to whisper for 5 minutes and call it a ‘sanity game’, etc.

53. Summer Sanity Tip
Even if you have the benefit of being home with your child on summer days, sometimes constant togetherness can take a toll. Try instituting a quiet hour after lunch. Even older children who don’t need to nap can benefit from down time. They can read, play quietly in their room, listen to cicadas, or just daydream. Although they might not call it prayer, learning to have quiet reflective time is an ingredient of prayer.

54. Temper Taming Tip #4
Dawdling Part 1: Does dawdling drive you crazy? Start earlier to get your child ready to go. Impossible? Maybe you are crowding YOUR schedule too much. Discipline yourself to do less, to open up some space in your life.

55. Temper Taming Tip #5
Dawdling Part 2: If all else fails, take up your courage and calmly put your child in the car no matter what stage of dress he's in or how much crying she does. Or start dinner or your plans without your child. The secret is to keep your cool because you've agreed on the plan and consequence ahead of time. It doesn’t usually take many times.

56. Temper Taming Tip #6
Too much squabbling between siblings – or even friends? Remember the time honored, time-out technique. Calmly, serenely, separate the children. This doesn’t have to be punitive. Rule of thumb: 1 minute of time-out for each year of life.

57. How FREE are you and your children? Can you enjoy each other’s company without spending money? Can you have fun without depending on electricity? Explore free recreation this weekend. Sing and dance – or at least talk and walk.

58. Temper Taming Tip #7
The kids are just being kids, making mistakes and noise, but it’s wearing on you. You can’t slip away without risking child neglect. Pray! You can do this in short spurts, silently or softly. My mother used to whisper, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” when she was upset with us. When we heard that, we knew she meant business and we better pay attention.

59. "Strong families have roughly 20 positive comments for every negative one." (John De Frain). Other research says it takes five positives to counteract one negative. Try keeping track for one day. If your children are old enough, maybe they'd like to take part in the count.

60. Do you know the names of the people on your street? Who is home when? The more you know your neighbors, the better they can be extra eyes, ears, and a helpful hand to your children.

61. 10 Needs of Children
“Children need time and space, attention, affection, guidance and conversation…They need jokes, play and touching. They need to have stories told to them by adults who know and love them in all their particularity and who have a real interest in their moral development.” (Mary Pipher, The Shelter of Each Other) Which one are you best at giving? weakest?

62. “Not everyone is going to be a friend, but no one needs to be an enemy.” (Susan Vogt, Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) How do you and your children deal with people you don’t like? Avoid them? Pray for them? Try to understand them? Gossip about them? Confront them? Fight with them? Other?

63. “Come up with a secret sign between you and your child that means, ‘I love you.’ It comes in handy at the bus stop or in a crowded room.” (Mimi Doe, )

64. Boredom and frustration are part of life. Let your children experience both so that they can develop the skills to overcome them.

65. “Be loyal to those not present.” (Steven R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families) This means not criticizing or gossiping about other family members behind their backs. Try to honor this loyalty today.

66. Doing labor – physical or mental – is a way of contributing to the common good of the family and society. What chores does each member of your family do? Are they fair? Are any in need of revision?

67. We shouldn’t need a terrorist attack to prompt us to voice our love to others and make amends to those we have hurt. Are there people in your life who need to hear words of love or apology from you? Do it today. There might not be a tomorrow.

68. Tape a morning prayer (or people you want to pray for) on the bathroom mirror. (Family Memory Calendar, Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown 814-886-5551)

69. Working with a child who is tired or hungry can sabotage your efforts. Take preventive measures when there is a homework project that will need your help. Of course with teens all bets are off since they seldom get enough sleep and snacks can be a delaying tactic.

70. Psychologically, negative messages are more powerful than positive ones. If you’ve been hard on yourself lately, list three things you did well today. Everyone in the family can do it.

71. "A man never stands as tall as when he stoops to help a child." (Knights of Pythagoras) Stooping and bending are perhaps done even more by women. So why aren't women taller? May this lame attempt at humor remind us all to take time for the children who sometimes pester us.

72. Some individuals are poor, some have disabilities, some are facing a personal crisis. Pick a person and walk in their shoes today. It might be a family member or someone you've heard about on the news. What's the difference?

73. Since you can't pick the time when teens are in the mood to talk, when they do open up, the parent needs to STOP and LISTEN UP.

74. "Welcoming a child, through birth or adoption, is an act of faith as well as an act of love." (USCCB, "Follow the Way of Love") If you have been blessed with a child, pray for couples who want a child but are infertile as well as for those who have an untimely pregnancy and are afraid. Bless your child today.

75. Ask where, when, and with whom when your teen leaves the house. This is not being nosy, it is caring. Cell phones are handy for safety but landlines are better for verification.

76. Parenting young children is physically demanding. Parenting teens is emotionally draining. Which is harder? Whichever you have.

77. “Taking time to rest is not a waste of time”. (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference)

78. There are many people in our midst who quietly go about doing thankless jobs like cleaning the toilet, changing sheets, stocking supermarket shelves, picking up other people’s garbage, or working in a fast food restaurant. Thank someone this weekend for making your life easier. Your child will watch you and learn.

79. Advent is about waiting -- waiting for Jesus to come again into our midst, waiting to be old enough for certain privileges, waiting for dinner, waiting for sex. Don’t rob your child of the self-discipline of waiting by hurrying Christmas and other things worth waiting for.

80. How do you feel about the way you spend Advent and the Christmas holidays? Are you comfortable with the customs and pace you’ve adopted? Don’t be a victim. Set your own pace. Don’t be so busy being Martha that you forget to be Mary to your child.

81. We are approaching the longest night of the year, Dec. 21. Advent is about waiting in the uncertainty of darkness. Ponder the times you have waited in the dark with your child. Perhaps it was illness, or maybe fear, that kept you in vigil together. As hard as those times are, they are the stuff of the vocation of parenthood.

82. The wait is almost over. Christmas eve is a long and often hectic 24 hours for many families. Take five minutes today to be quiet, to ponder with Mary the miracle of new life, to give the gift of your non-anxious presence to your family.


83. This past year has been a contentious one for our nation and world. Perhaps all years are; it just depends on where you sit. For some, the strife has been more within the family circle. Are there any fences you need to mend to start the new year with a clean slate? Forgive someone today.

84. January 6 (the 12th day of Christmas) is the traditional date of the Epiphany when the three wise men honored Jesus with gifts. When our children were young we gave three Christmas gifts – one piece of clothing, one educational gift, and one heart’s desire. Debrief what you liked (or disliked) about your gift giving this Christmas and drum up changes for next year.

85. “The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.” (Frank A. Clark) Teach your child a life skill this week (how to cook, pay a bill, write a thank you note, clean the toilet…)

86. Eat with the other hand today. Remember that some people have no hands or disabled hands.
Everyone’s gifts and talents are different. (adapted from the Family Memory Calendar, Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, 814-886-5551)

87. “Being a grandparent gave me a glimpse of how God loves us. Their parents may have to dole out the discipline, but no matter how bad the grandkids might be I can overlook it and still love them.”-Patsy Caffery

88. Parenting can be all-consuming. Take time for your relationship with your spouse, a good friend, or for hobbies that have nothing to do with your child. You will feel refreshed, replenished, and more responsive to your children.

89. Don’t do anything you wouldn't teach your children to do. Is there a bad habit that you would like to strip yourself of? Perhaps Lent and your children can give you the motivation to let go of it.

90. “Prioritize all the many demands on your time by saying ‘no’ to things without feelings. So, if you have a free hour and your kitchen floor needs waxing but your teenager needs some time alone with you, pick your daughter over the floor.” (Mimi Doe, )

91. Resist the urge to buy something new this week. Have each person in the family pick one possession to give away during Lent. (Consider gently used toys, books, or hand-me-downs that need to find a new home.)

92. Where do you go to church? Perhaps it’s closer than you think. A family is “the most basic way in which the Lord gathers us, forms us, and acts in the world. The early Church expressed this truth by calling the Christian family a domestic church or church of the home.” (Follow the Way of Love, USCCB). Pray at home today.

93. “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28) Sometimes parents need to give themselves a “time out”. If this fits you, take a break today. Believe the scripture.

94. “Families teach people to manage pain. Much of the terrible craziness in the world comes from running from pain.” (Mary Pipher) Who in your family, nuclear or extended, seems to be hurting the most these days? Stand with them.

95. “Humility is the virtue of parenthood. It usually comes unbidden after the pride of being the perfect parent is punctured by our children’s honesty and raw edges.” (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) Not all suffering is physical. How have your children purified you?

96. Laughter, when shared, is a healing balm. Share jokes today. Does your family have any stories about family foibles that get repeated over and over at family gatherings? It doesn't matter that it's embarrassing, it becomes family mythology. Ours has to do with a baked potato that someone sat on. What's yours?

97. How big is your family? Who lives farthest away? Who haven't you heard from in awhile? Reconnect with a family member this week.

98. "If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate." (Nikka - age 6) Who is it hard for you to love these days? Just for today, try to think positively about that person.

99. Family discussion starter: Imagine being present at the creation. Which creation day is your favorite: light, the sky, the earth and vegetation, the sun and moon, birds and sea creatures, animals, humanity, a day of rest? (adapted from the Family Memory Calendar, Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, 814-886-5551)

100. If you want someone to change, encouragement is more effective than criticism. Look for one thing about your child's behavior that you can praise today. This is often easier with toddlers. With older children perhaps you'd like to experiment with sending an e-mail or IM. Use their medium to connect. 101. “In the end, you can only teach the things that you are.” (Max Learner) Is there a habit you would like to nurture in your child? Work on yourself first.

102. “Speaking in tongues” is not about magic but rather sending a message to another. Sometimes words are unnecessary. Consider how parents communicate with babies nonverbally or through tone of voice. But words help clarify the message. Learn a word in a foreign language or sign language this weekend. If need be, find a foreigner to help you.

103. Do something extra for your faith. Consider attending a religious service of a different faith tradition. You may not only learn about God through different eyes, you will probably come away with a new appreciation for your own faith community.

104. “Love doesn’t mean always rescuing someone from mistakes and foolishness. Tough love helps children face the realities of cause and effect.” (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) Parents need to cultivate the courage and stamina to withstand whining and pleading. Let the consequence be the teacher. It’s tough, I know.

105. Teach your child a virtue today, but do it without talking. Let your actions speak. Consider charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, or generosity.

106. “To respect myself, to affirm others, and to avoid uncaring criticism, hateful words, physical attacks and self destructive behavior.” (Family Pledge of Nonviolence, #1, Discuss whether it would be possible for your family to say “yes” to this part of the pledge.

107. What does it mean to be a good father? Protection? Caring? Wisdom? Laying down your life for your child? Remember your own father. He was probably good at many things, weak or absent in others. Take the good and pass it on. Let go of the rest. “As ye judge, so will ye be judged.”

108. Tired of nagging and whining? Try running a RACE instead. Nagging and whining usually happen because the child or parent doesn’t do what’s wanted. Let the consequence be the reminder. Watch for the R-A-C-E steps to reduce nagging in your home over the next four Parenting Pointers

109. Instead of NAGGING, run a R-A-C-E. (Part 1)
R – Agree to a RULE. What expectations do you have for doing chores, homework, driving, media, going to church. Make the rule specific and fair.

110Instead of NAGGING, run a R-A-C-E. (Part 2)
A – AGREE. If your child is old enough to participate in the making of the rule, negotiate something you can both live with. For example, if YOU want the rule to be “no clothes on the floor,” maybe you could compromise to “no clothes on the floor by bed time.” Rules work best when both parties have a say.

111. Instead of NAGGING, run a R-A-C-E. (Part 3)
C – Agree to a CONSEQUENCE. This is the key. The consequence can be natural or logical; a reward for good behavior or loss of privilege for an infraction. It must, however, be something that will consistently follow.

112. Instead of NAGGING, run a R-A-C-E. (Part 4)
E – Enforce/Evaluate. Once you and your child have agreed upon a consequence, no (or few) words need be spoken. If the consequence requires your enforcement you must calmly follow through. If the negative behavior continues, evaluate together whether a different consequence would be more effective.

113. Instead of NAGGING, run a R-A-C-E. (Part 5)
The silent W – Write it down. RACE has no “W” but children are geniuses at wheedling out of consequences. It’s their job. If your child is old enough to read, write the rule and consequence in simple language. If necessary, draw pictures.

114. “To share my feelings honestly, to look for safe ways to express my anger, and to work at solving problems peacefully.” (#2, Family Pledge of Nonviolence, Could your family say “Yes” to this? World peace starts with teaching children the skills of conflict resolution.

115. On the seventh day God rested. Have you and your family had any refreshing rest this summer? If not now, when? Enjoy a day of no work beyond what is needed to eat and be safe.

116. “Parents aren’t the only influence in their kids’ lives, so they need to be the best, the loudest, the clearest and the closest.” (Dr. Phil McGraw) Many parents don’t have a problem with the “loud” part, but being clear without catching diarrhea of the mouth can be a challenge.

117. In disciplining a child, take away wants not needs. Thus dessert, TV, toys, driving, video games are wants or privileges. Nutritious food, warm clothes, time for homework, transportation to school, access to loving relatives, a safe environment, and nurturing spirituality are human needs. Taking away a teen’s cell phone is not cruel punishment; it is a privilege they earn.

118. A bored child doesn’t have enough to do. If you child complains of nothing to do, don’t rush to supply entertainment. Certainly there are jobs that you need help with. Joining your child in honest labor can take more time, but your family IS your job.

119. “We measure every policy, every institution, and every action by whether it protects human life and enhances human dignity, especially for the poor and vulnerable.” (Sharing Catholic Social Teaching, 1998) As parents we are like giants to our young children who often feel small and vulnerable in our presence. How does the way you discipline your children respect their dignity?

120. When our children are successful and getting all A’s in school it’s natural to be proud of them. Be careful of taking the credit for their success, however, lest you also have to take blame for their failures. Don’t live your life through your child. Your success as a parent does not depend on how your child turns out.

121. Moses had his relatives; Jesus had the apostles; even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. Do you have a community of friends and relatives who can back you up, spell you, and support you in your parenting? Look for adults who share your values at soccer practice, scouts, academic teams, PTA’s, church…

122. Teach your child a value this weekend but do it without saying a word. Consider faithfulness to a promise, self-control, goodness, gentleness, modesty, chastity. Which of these fruits of the Holy Spirit is the biggest challenge for you?

123. When you first saw your new born child you probably had an instinctive awe and desire to protect this new life. Extend that respect for life to others who are weak or powerless in our society – unborn babies, handicapped persons, the poor, the elderly, even those on death row. Each human life is precious.

124. Babies and toddlers cry – a lot! It’s their way of talking. How do you know when to respond and when to ignore crying? Until a child is one year old, the rule of thumb is to always respond. Even if they are not hurting, they may need your comfort. Sometimes we parents need to cry out to God for help too.

125. After age one, crying can still be an important warning, but it can also be manipulative. Is your child hungry, hurt, afraid, or sick? Of course the responsible parent responds – no matter what the hour or the football score.

126. Is there such a thing as a “false cry” from a child? For infants crying is a matter of survival, but as children get older some crying can be manipulative. All cries are a cry for attention but if the child just wants to have his or her own way, sometimes the best way to respond is to ignore the cry or call a time out for whining. (See 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan)

127. Children can train their parents to give them what they want by throwing a tantrum. No one likes to hear a child cry so often it’s easier to just give them the candy, toy, or their way so they will be quiet. Unfortunately the child learns that if he or she just screams and kicks long enough, the parent will give in. If it’s a safe place, ignore the tantrum. If this is impossible, firmly – BUT WITHOUT ANGER – hold the child as long as necessary.

128. The simplicity movement promotes the day after Thanksgiving as “Buy Nothing Day. Celebrate this day by playing games, telling stories, singing, etc. as a family. Even if you still buy stuff on other days, this is a way to honor the spirit of home-made entertainment. Try it. You might find it becomes a new family tradition.

129. “It takes a certain quantity of time to catch the quality times. The time it takes to listen to a child’s worry may take less than a minute. Being there when the worry comes up may involve an entire day of just being around.” (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference.)

130. “To listen carefully to one another, especially those who disagree with me, and to consider others’ feelings and needs rather than insist on having my own way.” (#3, Family Pledge of Nonviolence, Could your family say “Yes” to this? World peace begins at home.

131. Longing for something makes it more precious. Although our culture has already started celebrating Christmas, Advent is the holy season of waiting and preparing for Christmas. Teach your children little lessons in patience by waiting to eat till everyone is served, waiting to speak until the other is finished, waiting to open presents till Christmas. Parents can practice waiting in traffic or in the lines at stores. Pray while you wait.

132. Thanksgiving and Christmas are traditionally times when young adults return home and blended families regather in unique and complicated ways. As joyous as these times can be they often are also times of stress as the family system gets reshuffled. If there was tension at Thanksgiving, think of ways to get out of the power struggle at Christmas. If your family is perfect, work on letting go of pride.

133. “Mary, do not be afraid.” (Lk 1:31) “How can this be, since I have no knowledge of man?” (Lk 1:34) “Her husband Joseph, being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace, decided to divorce her informally.” (Mt1:19) Reflect upon the circumstances of the birth of each of your children. Perhaps retell them their birth or adoption story.

134. The wait is almost over. Christmas is almost here. In many families, the stress and excitement level is also high. Try taking five minutes to sit in the dark with your child with just the light from a candle (or the four Advent candles). You needn’t say anything, just wait in silence, ponder the reason for the season, and decompress.

135. As this year closes, reminisce highlights from 2005 with your child(ren). What made them most happy, sad, angry, and afraid? Share your own feelings also. Is there anything either of you want to change in 2006?


136. On the feast of the Epiphany, the wise still seek Him. Tradition tells us that the magi brought valuable gifts to Jesus. What gifts of wisdom can you give your child? A lesson learned from your childhood? A proverb that steers your life? A virtue to which you've struggled to be true?

137. "To apologize and make amends when I have hurt another, to forgive others, and to keep from holding grudges." (#4, Family Pledge of Nonviolence, Could your family say "Yes" to this? World peace begins at home.

138. Children often criticize, and make fun of others. So do their parents. Check yourself against these three criteria: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If not, it's probably fault finding or gossip.

139. "Seeing one bad movie, watching an occasional violent TV program, or trying out a violent video game is not generally going to scar a person for life. A steady diet of the above, however, desensitizes our society, our families, and ourselves to violence - and the ante has been rising." (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference)

140. Don’t “cry wolf” with your children. They need to know that when you say there will be a punishment for something – and they do the forbidden act anyway – that you will follow through. (Of course don’t threaten to do something outlandish like grounding them till they’re 21 either.)

141. Help your child “Go for the gold” but search for the silver – lining that is. When something goes wrong, think of how it might have been worse or how some different good will come out of it. For example, if a child breaks a toy, after the sadness can come gladness if it forces your child to seek out some forgotten toys.

142. An ache here, a pain there; an angst or an annoyance. What to do? Offer it up. It’s a traditional spiritual practice and may sound trite but offering up our troubles as a prayer can redirect our energy away from our own gloom to the good of another. Who would you offer up your problems for today?

143. “God Bless you” is not just for sneezes. Bless your child today. (Go to the Enrichment activity at for ideas.)

144. (Lent) Spiritually Lent is a time to take stock of our lives, see what we can live without and notice who needs our help. Clean out a closet. Clean out your soul – consider if it’s time to make a confession. Does your child know how to make an examination of conscience? Do you?

145. (Lent) Although we should respond to those in need all year round, Lent can be a time when parents teach their children about the 7 Corporal Works of Mercy. The first two are to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty. Of course as parents you do this for your family every day, but what about eating more simply during Lent (Google Operation Rice Bowl) or serving at a soup kitchen.

146. (Lent) The 3rd Corporal work of Mercy is to clothe the naked. Although teens may clamor that THEY need more clothes, or worse, that the naked body is beautiful so why can’t they bare their midriff at school, taking usable clothing to Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul can be a Lenten outing.

147. (Lent) The 4th Corporal Work of Mercy is to shelter the homeless. This might be hard for most families to do without extra bedrooms, but consider if your community or school has given refuge to any Katrina victims? Giving hospitality to travelers, or perhaps even stretching the concept to giving a stray dog a safe home, can count.

148. (Lent) The 5th Corporal Work of Mercy is to visit the imprisoned (or as older translations say, “ransom the captive”). Of course children are not allowed in prisons, but the family can correspond with inmates as ours did or consider visiting the elderly imprisoned by fear and unable to get out by themselves.

149. (Lent) The 6th Corporal Work of Mercy is to visit the sick. We get so busy when we’re healthy that it’s easy to forget those who are not able bodied. And what about those who suffer from invisible illnesses like depression and other mental illnesses. Signing a “Get well card” or tagging along as a parent visits a sick friend are things that even young children can do. Do you know anyone who is sick this week?

150. (Good Friday) The 7th Corporal Work of Mercy is to bury the dead. Of course this usually cannot be planned ahead unless it’s capital punishment as we see in Christ’s crucifixion. Where did these Works of Mercy come from? Common sense, a compassionate heart, and Matthew 25:31-46. Can you tell the difference between a sheep and a goat?

151. (around Earth day – mid April) “To treat the environment and all living things, including our pets, with respect and care.” (#5, Family Pledge of Nonviolence, Could your family say “Yes” to this? Celebrate Earth Day by using less plastic and disposables for a day, maybe even for a week, maybe forever. The less we consume the world’s resources the less we will fight over who gets what. World peace begins at home.

152. “Even if we are not called to sell all that we have (Luke 18-22), we probably are called to not buy everything that it is possible to buy.” (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference)

153. “The families of migrants, especially in the case of manual workers and farm workers, should be able to find a homeland everywhere in the church.” (Familiaris Consortio) Does your family know any current migrants from another country? Consider inviting their children to play with yours.

154. (For Mother’s Day) If you are a mother, hopefully your child(ren) will honor you on Mother’s Day. Think also of your own mother and how your life honors her. And then there are mothers who come by their role indirectly (foster and adoptive mothers, mothers-in-law, stepmothers, and those who have been like a mother to you.) Honor an honorary mother this week.

155. “Maybe Cain wouldn’t have killed Abel if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother.” (Larry, age 7) Sometimes changing the environment solves parenting problems.

156. “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28) You may not need this scripture right now, but if you’re a parent you’ll need it sometime, maybe daily. Hang on to these words of comfort when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

157. As vacation begins for most students, a “summer job jar” can be a sanity strategy. Write about 50 simple jobs on slips of paper and put in a jar. Each weekday your child picks one and has to do it before dinner. See June Enrichment Activity for more details.

158. Another summer sanity strategy: Consider instituting a “quiet hour” each day, (perhaps after lunch). Children go to a bedroom to nap, read, play quietly, or daydream. They don’t have to sleep, but you might want to.

159. (Father’s Day) If you are a father, hopefully your child(ren) will honor you on Father’s Day. Think also of your own father and how your life honors him. And then there are fathers who come by their role indirectly (foster and adoptive fathers, fathers-in-law, stepfathers, and those who have been like a father to you. Honor an honorary father this week.

160. “Include your children in conversations instead of talking over their heads. Often we assume that our kids can’t understand what we are discussing with other adults and talk as if they are invisible. Respect your children and when appropriate bring them up to speed in conversations.” (Mimi Doe, Spiritual Parenting)

161. Travel can be draining with kids but it can also be uplifting and increase our global awareness. Whether it’s 20 miles or 2,000 miles you meet people with different life stories. Take the time to listen to strangers along the way of your summer travel. Pray for them and the needs of the towns or region you visit.

162. Give your child an allowance if you like, but don’t pay children for doing common household chores. After all, nobody pays you to fix dinner or cut the grass. Being part of a family means that everyone, children included, pitches in to help. Contributing is part of belonging.

163. “We offer plenty of unsolicited advice to our kids as they're growing up – and to our surprise, sometimes they even take it! Once they're grown, though, it can be hard to hold our tongues. Try these three things: 1. Don't offer advice unless you're asked. 2. Don't be critical of decisions made by your children or their spouses. 3. If they do ask your opinion, say, ‘Here's how I'd do it...’ rather than, ‘Here's what you should do.’" (Family Minute by Mark Merrill)

164. "Dear God, thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy." (Joyce, age 6) We don't always get what we pray for; Thank God. Is there something you fervently prayed for and later discovered your prayer was answered in a better way?

165. You don't have to be on vacation to take photos. Try getting the family together for a silly pose. Send it to out of town relatives by e-mail or snail mail.

166. Since before Cinderella, stepparents have had a bad rap. In some cases it may be deserved but most often they play a precarious role, trying to love as a true parent but often unsure of their job. If you have a stepchild, listen and wait to be accepted. If you don't, pray for those in step relationships this week.

167. "Be careful how you express your most dearly held values to your children. Because of the strength of these convictions, parents sometimes impose them rigidly and in an extreme way on their children." (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) Yes, share your faith, values, love of sports, music… with your children, but listen too.

168. As summer winds down and many parents' thoughts turn to school, prepare your child by talking about bedtime and morning routines, hopes for the year, and safety tips. Perhaps the wedding adage, "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" can bring comfort, excitement, frugality, and fun to the start of the school year.

169. "To select entertainment and toys that support our family's values and to avoid entertainment that makes violence look exciting, funny, or acceptable." (#6, Family Pledge of Nonviolence, Could your family say "Yes" to this? World peace begins at home.

170. Give children choices whenever practical. It helps them develop decision making skills. Just make sure you only give your child a choice that you’re willing to live with as a parent.

172. “Focus on strengths more than mistakes.” (Active Parenting) Watch for one accomplishment or virtue that your child demonstrates today and comment on it.

173. “Anything which parents have not learned from experience, they can now learn from their children.” (Anon) Learn something new from your child today (a song, a joke, how to program a cell phone, how to download a printer driver…)

174. “Not only do I love my son’s mother, I exalt her as a queen.” (Rosario Slack) Do your children hear how much you esteem their other parent? Even if you are separated or divorced you can still speak of their other parent with respect.

175. Don’t complain about anyone or anything today, even if it’s true. For more about truth telling, see. “To Tell the Truth

176. “Every parent is at some time the father of the unreturned prodigal, with nothing to do but keep his house open to hope.” (John Ciardi) Has your child disappointed you in some way recently? You need to hold him or her accountable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t welcome your child back with open arms. Can you think of any offense that is not forgivable? God can’t.

177. Taking care of your child sometimes means taking time away from your child. Nurturing your marriage will pay benefits for your child even if it costs money for a babysitter. If you are a single parent, trade child care time with another parent and treat yourself to a little R & R. Time out for both parent and child is not always a punishment.

178. “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” (Luke 2:48) It doesn’t take long for a child to present parents with reason for anxiety. Have you ever lost your child either physically or emotionally (to mental illness, drugs, a bad mood)?

179. The average U.S. child is exposed to approximately 8 ½ hours of media a day. Sure, some of that is at school and some is multitasking, but it’s still way too much. Do you know how much time your child watches a screen or has something in his ear? Try counting the hours for one day.

180. “To challenge violence in all its forms whenever I encounter it, whether at home, at school, at work, or in the community, and to stand with others who are treated unfairly.” (#7, Family Pledge of Nonviolence, Could your family say “Yes” to this? World peace begins at home.

181. What does it mean to love our children? Of course it includes spending time listening to, looking at, feeding, washing, helping with homework, and correcting. BUT, spend more time looking for the good than reminding of the bad.

182. The Friday after Thanksgiving is the biggest buying day of the year. Try buying yourself some time by spending time as a family today. Try a little time travel back to the days of the Pilgrims. See if you can live for a day without electricity or automobiles, much less computers. (See Monthly Enrichment – My Grandma's Grandma for ideas)

183. To get into the Advent spirit of waiting and building toward Christmas, try using your address book to pray for people alphabetically at dinner. With 25 days till Christmas and 26 letters in the alphabet, if you pray for people whose name begins with A today you should finish close to Christmas.

184. (Immaculate Conception) "Rejoice, Mary,…The Lord is with you…You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus." (Luke 1:28-31) Remember when you first learned that you were pregnant. Tell your child the story of how you chose his or her name.

185. "I wish…to speak of the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others." (Pope Benedict XVI, On Christian Love) Of course we love our family, our friends, and those who like us. But can we also love the unlikable? Choose one person during this season to lavish love on who might not appear to deserve it. Your child will notice.

186. (Winter Solstice) Dec. 22 is the longest night of the year - the winter solstice. Long, dark nights can be frightening, especially to young children. Perhaps you've been lighting Advent candles leading up to Christmas. If not, you can still light a candle together tonight to disperse the darkness and remember that the Light of the World is returning.

187. As the year closes, is there anything you need to ask your family to forgive you for? Are there any relatives you need to forgive? It doesn't matter that you were right. Forgive anyway.


188. (Epiphany) The traditional date for the arrival of the Three Kings is Jan. 6 which marks the 12th Day of Christmas. Make a cake. Wrap three coins in foil and hide them in the batter. Whoever gets the slice with the coins is King/Queen for a day and gets out of chores. Be wise but have fun too.

189. As joyous as we are at the birth or adoption of our child, eventually a time comes when we understand the prophesy that Simeon said to Mary, "And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart." (Luke 2:34) Do you know a parent who needs consoling? Are you that parent today?

190. "It's not only a matter of what screen-based media promote, but what they prevent." (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) All of us like to veg out occasionally but too much passive entertainment robs children of the motivation to play outside, to be artistic, to create their own games and fun.

191. "Melanie, age 5, asked her Granny how old she was. Granny explained that she was so old she didn't remember any more. Melanie replied, "If you don't remember you must look in the back of your panties. Mine say five to six."

192. (Ground Hog Day) Look for your shadow today. Shadows don’t have to always be physical. Sometimes it’s an undeveloped talent or the opposite of a strength you have. Perhaps you’re an extrovert. Try being quieter – or vice-versa. Parents need to develop all sides of their personality.

193. “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” (Father Theodore Hesburgh) Don’t get so busy caring for your child that you forget the love between you that loved your child into being.

194. “We need to become intimate enough with our adult children to understand the questions they are asking, not the answers we think they need to hear.” (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) Certainly parenting does not end once your child turns 18 or 21, but it should get more subtle.

195. “We make ourselves rich by making our wants few.” (Henry David Thoreau). Do you consider yourself richer or poorer than average? Today, model for your child the art of letting go of a want, even if it’s just a decision not to eat a dessert.

196. Few people in developed nations consider themselves really rich, but it’s all a matter of who we’re comparing ourselves to. Jesus was born in a stable. Spend some time rubbing shoulders with those who have less this weekend – perhaps take a walk in a poor neighborhood.

197. “His mother pondered all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51) You don’t have to be a mother to watch and ponder your child’s progress and set backs. Silently watch your child(ren) today and marvel at the ups & downs of their lives.

198. “Dear God, please put another holiday between Christmas and Easter. There is nothing good in there now.” (Ginny) Maybe that’s why the Church has Laetare Sunday. Google it if you don’t know what it means.

199. Have you ever tried a “tech fast”? For one day resolve not to use any technology – no TV, computer, cell phone, I-pod, etc. As with most fasts, these are not evil tools in themselves, but temporarily going without can sensitize you to the natural side of life and put you in solidarity with those who don’t have a choice. Invite your child to join you.

200. As our children get older, they start to turn the tables on us. They reflect back to us both the good qualities we modeled for them and the gruff words we said in anger. They teach us the ways of the modern world as we continue to try to teach them age old wisdom. It’s a two way street. What has your child taught you today?

201. On many days parenting is a joy, but on some days it certainly can be a cross. Let the cross have purpose by looking beyond it and believing that your child will overcome his or her difficulties.

202. Parenting is a full time job but it doesn't pay the bills. For many parents it's a difficult decision to decide whether or not to work outside the home. For help see, "To Work or Not to Work."

203. (Earth Day) Does your child have NDD (Nature Deficit Disorder)? Do something outside this weekend even if it's just taking a walk with your child. Notice what's growing around you.

204. Have books gone out of style? # 1 of 6. This is TV Turnoff week. But what to do instead? Reading is good but can get expensive if you buy all those wonderful books new. Visit your public library this weekend with your child.

205. Have books gone out of style? #2 of 6. How many books do you have in your house? (Have a bored child? Ask him/her to count them.) Check if any need to be returned to their owner and make this 'return a book week.' (Have a teen with a driver's license? What a worthy use of driving time.)

206. (Mother's Day) What did your mother teach you about the value of women? What is the most important "motherly" trait you'd like to instill in your child? Even if you only have sons they need to honor women and develop the nurturing side of their personality.

207. Have books gone out of style? #3 of 6 Teach your child the joy of reading by reading together. For toddlers it's nice cuddling time.

208. Have books gone out of style? #4 of 6 For older children who may be perfectly capable of reading to themselves, it still doesn't hurt to read a chapter a night together. It provides connecting time. Pause at the end. Maybe say a prayer. Leave time for daily concerns to be shared.

209. Have books gone out of style? #5 of 6 For families with young adults scattered around the globe, try a different kind of reading together - an on-line family book club in which everybody discusses a common book or movie on-line. Learn from each other. Can you read your son or daughter like a book?

210. Have books gone out of style? #6 of 6 Don't read anything today! Sound crazy? Impossible? Probably. As much as we value reading and books, sometimes we don't appreciate the gift of reading until we go without it. Pray for children who don't have books or who are blind today. Do something outdoors with you child today and "read" the signs of nature.

211. (Father's Day): What did your father teach you about the value of men? What is the most important "fatherly" trait you'd like to instill in your child? Even if you only have daughters they need to honor men and develop the confident side of their personality.

212. Parent's spend a lot of energy on their children, and so it should be. To avoid parent burnout, however, sometimes we need to be like a parent to ourselves. Take a break this week. Not the whole week; probably not even a whole day; but try to squeeze an hour or two out of the week to pamper yourself. Cry for help if you need it.

213. "Growing up can be like walking through a labyrinth; when you get to the center you say 'Oh yes! Now I know who I am and where I stand. I'm centered.' But we can't stay forever in the cocoon of the center. We must venture outwards again." (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) Provide your child with quiet time to be centered, but balance that with social time and service to others.

214. "Dear God, I'm American. What are you?" (Robert, age 5) Sometimes we impose our limited notions of patriotism on God. It's fine to be proud of one's country, but help your children understand that God is bigger than any one nationality and loves all people, even those we love to hate.

215. Pregnancy #1 of 3 "The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; (Lk1:57) Elizabeth waited a long time to have a child. Do you know anyone who is anxiously hoping to have a child? God willing their time will come. But also God willing, may they find ways to give life to others if not from their own bodies, but from their hearts. Pray for them.

216. Pregnancy #2 of 3: "And when [Elizabeth's] neighbors and relations heard that the Lord had lavished on her his faithful love, they shared her joy." (Lk 1: 58) And thus John the Baptist was welcomed into our world. Do you know anyone who is pregnant? Rejoice with them and remind the mother how beautiful she is, tired, nauseous, or not?

217. Pregnancy #3 of 3: Do you know anyone with an untimely pregnancy? Support them. If you don't know anyone directly you might want to help out at a crisis pregnancy center like Birthright (

218. Curbing Undue Consumerism (Part 1) "There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less." (G.K. Chesterton) Does your child ever whine and plead for the latest toy, electronic gadget, or just more stuff? It's natural, but naturally you don't need to feed their every craving. "No" and "Not now" are not dirty words.

219. Curbing Undue Consumerism (Part 2) Start with yourself. As a parent are you able to say "No" to at least some luxuries? It's not bad to buy things (much of it is necessary), but try saying "No" to one luxury this week - just for practice.

220. Curbing Undue Consumerism (Part 3) One way to bring perspective to children's wants is to expose them to those who have less. Take a bike ride or walk through a neighborhood poorer than your own. Watch a movie describing life in a developing country. See Trophies for Tightwads and A Piece of the Pie for family activities.

221. Curbing Undue Consumerism (Part 4) One way to decrease wants is to decrease exposure to ads and commercials. Even watching family TV programs can trick the viewer into believing that the lifestyles portrayed are normative and that everyone has the items shown on screen.

222. Curbing Undue Consumerism (Part 5) "Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of Heaven is theirs." (Mt 5:3) Scriptures like this are seldom a motivator for children, but for Christians doesn't this under gird our faith? Christ never said it would be easy, but for true happiness less is more. It does take maturity, however, to recognize this.

223. September 9 is National Grandparents Day. You needn't buy a card or gift. Most grandparents would appreciate a call, visit, or homemade expression of affection more. This could be an occasion to link your child with history. Ask a grandparent to tell stories, maybe even slightly embarrassing stories of how you were raised.

224. When I was young my mother always wrote an endearing name on my lunch bag. Classmates would watch to see what new name she had for me each day. Why not start a tradition of sharing an affirming phrase (written or spoken) with your child each day.

225. "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." (Elizabeth Stone) Watch your child today. Not the babysitting kind of watching but watch with eyes of wonder for a moment. Ponder the marvel of this unique being for whom you spend your life.

226. "I was a stranger and you made me welcome." (Mt. 25:38) Who is the last stranger who visited your home? How would you rate your family's hospitality? -adapted from Family Memory Calendar, Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown

227. "They do not love who do not show their love." (William Shakespeare) The way we prove our love not only for our family but also for all human life is to ACT with love towards others - even those with whom we disagree. Respect your child even when disciplining him or her.

228. Parenting is sometimes like playing Cribbage or Poker. It's all about increasing your odds for success. Once you learn the standard best strategies then the game is even and much depends on luck. Using the best practices of parenting increases your odds of raising happy, healthy children but it doesn't guarantee they will turn out as you hoped. Free will, friends, and just plain good or bad luck can make a difference. Since you can't control everything, pray a lot for your child.

229. When your child makes a mistake, fails at something, or simply has some bad luck, teach him or her the skill of "recovery." This is more valuable in life than just being lucky. Recovery means you figure out how to make amends and what to do prevent the problem in the future.

230. Single parents need buddies more than lovers. When one loses a spouse's love, it can be tempting to rush to fill the void with another lover. Same sex friends for your own support and opposite sex companions and role models for your child are more important. If you're not a single parent, offer this help to someone who is.

231. (All Souls Day): "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly; it is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more." (Mt. 2:18) Have you ever "lost" a child through miscarriage, death, drugs, or distance? Extend a word of comfort to another parent.

232. Stepparents have to step up to an instant and complicated role. Some days you might be regarded as a "real" parent and other days as a wicked stepmother. Take the time to earn the name Mom or Dad. You can't hurry love.

233. "We share the pain of couples who struggle without success to conceive a child. We admire and encourage families who adopt a child [or] become foster parents" (Follow the way of Love). November is National Adoption month. Have you ever considered this way to give life?

234. (Day after Thanksgiving): Thanks have been given and leftovers may make today's meal easier. Let this weekend be a time for some extra family fun - some games, a family hike, going through old photo albums…

235. As Advent is about to begin, help your children enter into the spirit of waiting by pacing your Christmas preparations. Don't hurry Christmas. Remember you have the 12 Days of Christmas to celebrate. Wait for the birth.

236. Advent is about waiting and preparing. If you don’t already have an Advent wreath, get one and light one candle the first week; two candles the next, etc. As the candles increase, children see the gradual movement toward Christmas. Let the light teach your child about waiting.

237. If you have small children, the intensity of this time right before Christmas can be fun but also draining. When you feel stressed, keep repeating the mantra, “Whose Birthday is it anyway?” If you keep this in mind, what’s important and what isn’t will sort itself out. Actually this applies to all ages.

238. Dec. 21 is the Winter Solstice with the longest night of the year. Let it be a day of balance between meeting one's personal needs and those of others. Since our own family's needs are usually quite obvious, take a moment to balance it with listening for the needs of the world at large. Ask your child who he or she would like to pray for or give a gift to who is not a family member, friend, or classmate?

239. On the fourth day of Christmas, presents have probably all been opened (and hopefully still cherished) but Christmas is not over. Could your family still do a gift of “four calling birds”? Don’t know where to buy “calling birds”? Consider calling up a distant relative or taking a family hike to look for birds and listen.


240. On the 11th Day of Christmas you may not be able to give your child 11 pipers piping, but you can give the gift of music. You say you’re not musical, ask your child to sing for you, buy a whistle or a kazoo, play a CD of background music during dinner, sing a silly song together.

241. For those in the heat of everyday parenting, remember that some day – when you’re in the empty nest stage – you will SO look forward to these children coming home. . . for a temporary visit.

242. (Martin Luther King weekend) Nurture the values of equality and respect at home. Does everyone contribute to household chores according to their ability? Are siblings called to task if there is nasty name calling? Do parents share leadership and authority? Is anybody treated like a slave?

243. Simplifying one’s life is not only about reducing expenditures but also about getting rid of clutter in order to pay attention to what’s really important. Is the stuff your work long hours to buy for your child worth the time stolen from your relationship?

244. February 29 is Leap Day. Custom has it that this is a day of role reversal. If your kids are old enough, have some fun with trading roles. The parents get to whine and the kids get to make rules about bedtime and what to eat. It may be crazy but it's only once every four years.

245. Most parents of young children kiss their kids goodnight. Continue this custom during the teen years by asking your teen to give you a good night kiss when returning from a night out. Not only does it assure you they are home safe, but helps you know what they've been drinking.

246. Have you talked to your children about who they can go to if they ever feel unsafe at sports practice, or other school or church activity? You don't want to unduly alarm your child lest he/she think danger lurks around every corner, but you can say, "If someone bullies you or frightens you, call me (or a specific adult that you both trust)."

247. “Not everything a child resists need be avoided. The challenge is to know when to compromise and when to hold fast.” (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) Just because your child complains or pesters you to let him or her do something or buy something doesn’t mean you have to cave. Remember, you are the parent. Be strong.

248. Feb. 29: (Leap Day) Today is Leap Day. Custom has it that this is a day of role reversal. If your kids are old enough, have some fun with trading roles. The parents get to whine and the kids get to make rules about bedtime and what to eat. It may be crazy but it’s only once every four years.

249. Most parents of young children kiss their kids goodnight. Continue the custom during the teen years by asking your teen to give you a good night kiss when returning from a night out. Not only does it assure you they are home safe, but helps you know what they’ve been drinking.

250. Have you talked to your children about who they can go to if they ever feel unsafe at sports practice, or other school or church activity? You don’t want to unduly alarm your child lest he/she think danger lurks around every corner, but you can say, “If someone bullies you or frightens you, call me (or a specific adult that you both trust).”

251. God so loved us that he gave us his only Son. The gift was not pain-free, however, as we know from the crucifixion. When your child becomes a cross to you, remember Jesus words, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

252. DO fight in front of your kids. Not violent, screaming matches but let them see that you don’t always agree. Most of all, let them see how you eventually heal your arguments and forgive each other.

253. Parenting is most often about caring for your children, but sometimes we become parents to our parents. As the U.S. bishops say “We admire and encourage families who … care for an elderly or disabled relative in their homes.” (Follow the Way of Love) Pray for and support people you know who are parenting on both ends.

254. Doing some Spring cleaning? Ask your children to help you spot things that can be given away. It’s always easier to identify another person’s junk than it is to recognize your own. You don’t have to throw out the lawnmower or silverware but it might be fun to see what kids think you can do without.

255. The fourth week of April is National TV Turnoff Week. Talk to your kids this weekend about whether your family would be willing to find different kinds of entertainment for one week. You might even extend this to video games and anything on the computer that isn’t homework or work related. Sweeten the pot with some creative alternatives that involve the whole family.

256. Many parents carry around a lot of guilt for not being the perfect parent. True, you probably have made some mistakes and would do some things differently if you had it to do over again. Forgive yourself anyway. To get in the practice of forgiving, forgive your own parent or child for a mistake or disappointment.

257. “Jesus” and “God” are not dirty words. Mention Jesus in daily conversations with your children such as, “I wonder what Jesus would do in this situation?” or “Thank God we didn’t miss the bus.” As they grow older, Jesus will be more like a part of the family than a distant cousin.

258. (Mother’s Day) One of the worst days of my parenting career was a Mother’s day. The kids argued, were unruly, and barely acknowledged the day until prompted by their father. I survived and so did the kids. Be slow to take credit for the accomplishments of your children lest you also take the blame for their bad behavior.

259. Parenting is not a solo job even if you are separated or divorced from your spouse. “It’s worth paying attention to the experiences of older parents.” (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) Other parents, especially ones who have “been there” can give you support and advice. Don’t be too proud to consult.

260. (Memorial Day) One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed seven-year-old Alex staring at a large plaque in the foyer of the church. The plaque was covered with names and small American flags. Alex asked what it meant and the priest replied, "Well, son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service." Finally, little Alex's voice, barely audible and trembling with fear, asked, "Which service, the 8:30 or the 11:00?"

261. May 30: “On the seventh day God rested.” (Genesis 2:3) With our fast-paced, busy lives it’s tempting to crowd the weekends with shopping and catch up on home repairs. That’s what Saturdays are for. Consider saving Sundays for worship and re-creating your spirits. Do something fun with your kids (other than the mall). Resist non-essential work this Sunday. Repeat, if you can.

262. A classic parental dilemma is when to protect or rescue a child and when not to. Certainly conscientious parents want to help their children succeed, but often letting a child experience the negative consequence of a bad decision helps him or her grow up. Better to be late for school than late for an important job interview. Resist the urge to smother and rescue when they are young.

263. (Father's Day) What does it mean to be a good father? Protection? Caring? Wisdom? Laying down your life for your child? Remember your own father. He was probably good at many things, weak or absent in others. Take the good and pass it on. Let go of the rest. "As ye judge, so will ye be judged."

264. (Summer begins) Creating a spiritual home is not limited to saying prayers and being nice. Consider creating a calm space, free of clutter in your home where you and your children can relax and imagine - no TV, no computer, just several comfortable chairs for people to talk or read. This used to be called a living room.

265. June 27: You are not your child. Your success or failure as a parent is not dependent or your child's successes or failures. When things go well for your child, be happy for him or her. When things don't go well offer your understanding and support.

266. July 4: Every country has its patriotic holidays and in the USA July 4 celebrates freedom. How FREE are you and your children? Can you enjoy each other's company without spending money? Can you have fun without depending on electricity? Explore free recreation this weekend. Sing and dance - or at least talk and walk.

267. Have you ever given your child a harsh punishment - and perhaps regretted it? It's tempting for parents to renege and cancel the punishment. This sets a bad precedent. Instead, offer your child a chance to redeem him/herself. Perhaps there is a major project you need help with that your child doesn't like to do (but it's not as bad as the punishment), or you could switch grounding or cell phone loss to a more convenient day, but make it longer. Let them choose their poison.

268. Stepparents: you can't replace your stepchild's biological parent but you can be a real parent. Real parents make mistakes (occasionally), are hated by their child (at times), and earn their honor slowly (over years). Be patient with yourself but step up to the plate when needed.

269. When parents find some thing amiss at home (mud tracked through the house, a broken lamp…) they almost instinctively call out, "Who did this?" It's not a question seeking information as much as seeking who to blame. Once the culprit is found, the primary question should be, "How can we keep this from happening again?"

270. "Dear God, I think about you sometimes even when I'm not praying." (Eliott) Sometimes "religious" people make fun of those who say they don't go to church because they find God in a sunset or a mountain view. While nature may be a handy excuse for avoiding intentional prayer, try to see the sacred in the ordinary people and activities you encounter today. Be mindful of God's presence for the next 5 minutes.

271. As you've no doubt discovered, teens can be parent deaf. To break through, take a tip from the media and try talking in sound bytes. Decide ahead of time the core message, reduce it to a short sentence, look your teen in the eye, say it, and stop.

272. (Assumption) Are there any assumptions you have about your children such as, they will be good in sports, they will try hard in school, or they know I love them. Goals are good but assumptions are dangerous. Tell your children you love them in a creative way today.

273. So your kid's not listening to you. Humor helps. Try exaggerating your request to the point of silliness. Perhaps start a playful tradition of putting something in her shoe or down his back when your child is in a funk. (I used to hide carrots in odd places in one child's possessions just to bring a smile.)

274. Does your child know the basics of courtesy beyond "please" and "thank you"? Teach how to answer the phone appropriately, introduce an elder to a friend, shake hands with an adult. Role play it. These practices need to get into muscle memory so it comes naturally.

275. As our children move out of the home and into young adulthood, our style of parenting changes. Although they will always be our sons and daughters, there comes a time when we are no longer responsible for their relationship with God or morals. All we can do is hold them in prayer, let go, and let God.

276. The second Sunday in September is Grandparents day. Grandparents don't usually want gifts, they just like to be acknowledged and appreciated. Help your child show appreciation for the grandparent(s) this weekend. If your own grandparents are still alive, do the same. If not, tell them in prayer.

277. "Dear God, You don't have to worry about me. I always look both ways." (Dean, age 7) Looking both ways is not just a good traffic practice. Help your child see both sides of an argument or a controversial issue. It's a life skill that will help them get along with others who think differently from them.

278. Are you a techno-peasant? If your child knows a lot more about the internet than you do, it's time to upgrade your knowledge. Not only is it an opportunity to learn from the younger generation, it's important for you to know enough to protect them from the dangers of the internet.

279. It might sometimes feel awkward to talk with your child about potential sexual abuse. The "Bathing Suit Rule" can help. Tell your child that the parts of the body covered by a bathing suit are private and special. Instruct your child to tell you if anyone tries to touch them in these private parts.

280. There's a growing group of parents in our culture who frequently get mocked or put on a pedestal: stay-at-home Dads. For awhile my husband was the only father in our babysitting co-op. This is not going above and beyond the call of duty, it's simply responding to the unique needs of your family. Respect and support parents of all stripes. God knows it's not an easy job, no matter what your gender.

281. Having trouble getting a conversation started with your kids? Try the "Favorites Quiz." Ask your child to judge how well you know them. Try to guess their favorite book, movie, food, way to relax, teacher, musical group, toy, sports hero, scripture, etc.

282. You've probably heard of "active listening." Maybe you use this communication technique frequently. Regardless, try to "listen by speaking" today by looking for an opportunity to rephrase something of import your child says today to confirm that you really understand.

283. (Halloween) Parenting is a hard and serious business, but sometimes we conscientious parents need to loosen up. Amid the hectic search for costumes and treats, take time to enjoy this playful holiday with your younger kids. Yes, check their candy, but it's not a sin to eat something less than nutritious once a year.

284.Family time is great but many of the happiest families I know also make time for one on one time with each child. One Dad takes one of the kids out for breakfast on Saturday mornings. Another mom treats a different child each week to a walk in the woods. Other parents alternate the one on one time. If you have more than one child, give each one some alone time with you.

285. Does your family have a family password? Agree on a word that’s only you and trusted friends know. Teach your child not to go with anyone who doesn’t know the family password. Although you don’t want to instill undue fear in your kids, you also want to keep them safe.

286. (Day after Thanksgiving) The day after Thanksgiving has been named “Black Friday” by merchants since it’s the start of the Christmas shopping season. It’s also called “Buy Nothing Day” by those who are trying to reduce consumerism. Sure you’re going to buy presents some time but buy less, save yourself the stress of fighting crowds, spend the time playing with your kids today. That’s the most meaningful present you can give.

287. Although the best strategy for dealing with the TV is often to turn it off, parents can also use TV to teach. Watch a program with your child and talk back to the TV. “Hmmm, that commercial sure is trying to trick us?” Or, “I can’t believe that kid just back-talked to his mom. What do you think the parent should do?”

288. Dec. 5: (St. Nick’s) Tomorrow is the feast of St. Nicholas. Sure, hide a treat in your child’s shoe tonight. Generosity is the trademark of St. Nick. Perhaps you could remind your child that there are children in our world who still need shoes. As a family, consider secretly buying someone a pair of shoes who needs them.

289. Dec. 12: (Our Lady of Guadalupe) Even if you’re not Hispanic, this Marian feast has a message for all humanity. Mary appeared to Juan Diego in the form and garb of a Mexican woman. It reminds us that God often comes through people with whom we can identify. Ever have trouble getting a message across to your kids? Try tuning into their world, their needs.

290. Christmas is close but it’s not here yet. Although meeting the needs of the extended family sometimes means celebrating Christmas before, December 25, to get the full value of Advent, one must wait – expectantly if not patiently. Waiting is an important life skill and Advent is a good time to learn it.

291. (Day after Christmas) The day after Christmas can feel like a let down or a relief. Now that the hustle that too often accompanies the lead up to Christmas is over, pay attention to family bonding. Relax together today, play a game, tell stories of past Christmas’s and deceased relatives. Laugh and nap.


292. It’s a new year. Give your child a chance to be a new person. Too often we type our kids. He’s so lazy. She’s so self- centered. If you think you know your children well, you may; but give them a chance to prove one of your negative stereotypes wrong. They might surprise you.

293. It’s bowl season. Rather than just watching bowl games why not do something more active. Have a family bowling party. Kids too young for real bowling can have a ball with bubbles or clay.

294. (Jan. 19, MLK) As we approach Martin Luther King Day and Inauguration Day, talk with your kids about heroes. What historical female and male do they most admire? What living male and female do they want to emulate. Why?

295. The Internet – Part 1. The internet can be a blessing and a curse. It’s a valuable homework tool and facilitates communication among far flung family members. Information that used to take days to find or a trip to the library can often be found in seconds. Ask your child to show you something new online today.

296. The Internet – Part 2. As valuable as the internet can be, it can also lead children astray. Internet basics: Put the computer in a public place. Use appropriate filters and firewalls. Teach children never to give identifying information on social networking sites. Kids are clever, however, and can find their way around even these precautions. Your honest relationship with your child is the greatest safeguard.

297. The Internet – Part 3. Are you friends with your teen? Facebook or MySpace friends I mean. Regardless of whether or not you are into these social networking sites, it doesn’t hurt to sign up. If for no other reason, parents need to be aware of how they work. It’s also a handy way to stay connected with your young adult children.

298. Love your child by loving their mother or father. Usually this is your spouse, but even if you are divorced, maintaining a civil, respectful relationship with your ex shows your child how to get along with people for whom they might not have a natural liking.

299. ”My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.” (Luke 2:48) Just as Jesus confounded his parents when he stayed in the temple talking with the teachers, sometimes our children worry us. OK, maybe a lot of the time. Put your child in God’s hands. Sometimes that’s all there is left to do.

300. During Lent remember to keep your sense of humor. Consider the minister who prayed, "Dear Lord, without you, we are but dust." He would have continued but at that moment a child piped up, "Mom, what is butt dust?" Share a joke with your family today.

301. As a parent sometimes it feels like success always occurs in private (like a tender bedtime moment) and failure in public (like at the grocery store). If you notice another’s child doing something praiseworthy, compliment the child of course, but pass it on to the parent too. Sometimes we need that.

302. “Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” (Robert Fulghum) When in your child’s presence today, be mindful of how you speak to and treat others. Of course we should do this all the time, but it will be hard enough to be truly conscious of this for even one day. Try it today.

303. Mar. 20: (Spring Begins) Let the beginning of Spring be a prompt to share nature with your child. Even if it’s still chilly or rainy in your neck of the woods, get out into the woods – if not today, soon. Don’t let your child suffer from nature deficit disorder.

304. Sometimes we can get so caught up in taking care of our kids that we think it all depends on us. “If you frequently empty yourself for others, it’s important not to be full of yourself.” (Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference) Parents, If you can, take a break today. If not today, soon.

305. Our homes not only collect dirt over the winter, they also collect clutter. Spring housecleaning can sound like an onerous chore but why not let it do double duty. Commit to cleaning out not only a room, a closet, or a drawer, but take time to clean out your soul. Do an examination of conscience, reconcile with God and those close to you. Do both kinds of cleaning with your child. You'll feel better afterwards.

306. (Good Friday) "and a sword will pierce your soul too" (Luke 2:35) This is not a happy thought but anyone who has been a parent knows that times of sorrow mix with times of joy. This is the Paschal Mystery of death and resurrection. As you enter into Christ's passion today, join with the pain Mary felt in watching her son die. Keep this in mind during your times of sorrow.

307. Check in with a relative you haven't talked with for awhile. Whether by phone, mail, e-mail, or Skype, let your child be part of the conversation. Hopefully you'll be on the receiving end of such mindfulness when your child is an adult.

308. April 22 is Earth Day. Of course we want to be good stewards of the earth locally and in our own home, but sometimes it helps to see the big picture. For inspiration watch the the mini video, Miniature Earth, with your child today. Learn anything new?

309. Are you as smart as your teen – about the internet and social networking? Sometimes it’s nice to learn from our kids, but even if you don’t like to mess with computers, you must learn enough about the internet to guide your children and set boundaries. Insist that your teen “befriend” you and be a silent partner.

310. (Mother’s day) If you are a mother, hopefully your child(ren) will honor you on Mother’s Day. Think also of your own mother and how your life honors her. And then there are mothers who come by their role indirectly (foster and adoptive mothers, mothers-in-law, stepmothers, and those who have been like a mother to you.) Honor an honorary mother this week

311. (Ascension) As we remember Jesus ascending into heaven, perhaps you and your child could “lift up” in prayer the memory of deceased relatives who have gone to be with God. Even though we don’t know where “heaven” is, children can watch a balloon or kite ascend toward the heavens – and pray.

312. How do you keep in touch with your child if you are away from home on business? When you can’t physically hug or comfort your child, look for ways to be virtually present – a call at bedtime, a taped story, a Skype connection, a tweet here or there, an e-mailed photo of you holding a picture of your child. Be present even when you’re not.

313. Rules, rules, rules. Our kids often thought they had too many rules – until they saw how chaotic and dangerous life was without them. You have safety rules I’m sure. Do you have TV, computer, cleaning, and chore rules too. Let the kids help formulate the rules, but don’t be a wimp. Your job is to be the parent.

314.June is a time of graduations and dandelions; weddings and lightning bugs, vacations and summer jobs. Whether you have babies or teenagers, take a moment today to notice something small but precious about your child. Sit in wonderment for a moment about the mystery of human life.

315. Have you ever tried a “tech free day”? No TV, no computer, no cell phone, no video games… It may seem like cruel and unusual punishment but it can also be a challenge. Of course you have to choose a day that is not tech dependent, but it can teach you and your children how to savor human relationships and how to be resourceful.

316. (Father’s Day) “Our Father, who art in heaven…” Note that we say “Our” Father not “My” Father since God is not God only to me but to all the children of the earth. Yes, remember your own father today, but also remember those children whose father is absent, unemployed, deployed in a foreign land, abusive, or in some other way not present. Can you be like a father to someone who needs you?

317. You probably say, “I love you” often to a young child, perhaps less often to teens or young adults lest you embarrass them. Sometimes changing the language can make it sound less routine and more hip. Click here to see how to do it in sign language.

318. Not every family outing will be a highlight like fireworks, so savor the subtle meaningful moments with your child – a sleeping baby, a toddler following an ant, catching lightning bugs together, a passing hug from a teen, an e-mail signed, “Love” from your young adult.

319. Do summer days with kids wear you out? Even if your children are past the napping stage, consider an “after lunch quiet hour.” Kids don’t have to sleep, just spend some quiet time reading, drawing, or daydreaming. Having moments of quiet during the day give God space to enter our lives.

320. Ever hear of the Pareto Principle? It’s the business principle that 80% of results come from 20% of one’s time. Sure there are many caretaking hours you spend with your child, but try to have at least one meaningful moment daily, OK, maybe weekly – Tell a story from your childhood, ponder the sky together, ask about his/her favorite teacher or least favorite music.

321. Technology makes our lives easier – most of the time. If your teen is on a social network like Facebook, require that you be a friend. You don’t have to ever post anything (in fact it’s often better if you don’t). It’s just another way to keep abreast of what teens and their peers are thinking.

322. Maybe you’re on vacation, but even if you’re not, it’s often interesting and even inspiring to go to a church, synagogue, temple, or mosque different from your regular one. A new experience can refresh the soul.

323. “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:18) For most parents having a child is a joy. Yes, it’s mixed with frustration and a lot of hard work but too often we take the “normal” times of parenting for granted. Pray for parents who have lost a child to an untimely death, abortion, drugs…Perhaps you are praying for yourself.

324. Babysitters can be sanity savers for parents. Even if you’re blessed with a nearby grandparent, periodically getting a babysitter is not a luxury. Finding reliable sitters, however, is not the final step – you still have to train them. Make a form with important information like your cell phone #, a neighbor’s phone, your street address, 911 instructions, medications, family rules, etc.

325. Memory making sometimes means sharing one of your own childhood memories with your son or daughter. Think of a funny, sad, or meaningful experience (or even a mistake from your childhood) and entrust it to your child. It doesn’t cost anything but it can bring you closer together.

326. Does your child have any peace and quiet. This is especially important for teens who often fill spare moments with things next to their ear – i-Pods, cell phones, video games, even nagging parents. If noise is always in their ears, it doesn’t leave much room for pensive thinking. You can’t make your child think, but you can make space for it by having common sense rules about overuse of media.

327. Sept. 13 is Grandparents Day, but what can you buy for a grandparent? Most grandparents appreciate appreciation more than tangible gifts. Tell your grandparents why you love them and how much they mean to you. If they are no longer living, tell them in prayer. Grandparents are the carriers of history. Ask them what they’ve learned and how the world has changed. Listen.

328. Sept. 11: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Mt. 5:9) Birth order theory says that middle children are often the peacemakers between their siblings. Whether or not this is the case in your family, teach your children the skills of peacemaking. Talk about and consider taking the Family Pledge of Nonviolence.

329. As the Simon and Garfunkel song goes, “Slow down you move too fast.” As adults we have places to go, commitments to keep. We need to be responsible. Children are children, however, and sometimes we can learn from the slowdowns they foist upon us.

330. During these hard economic times you might not find much to smile about. Smile anyway. Smile at your child’s silly behavior, your neighbor’s peculiarities, the stranger you pass on the street or in the car. It won’t right all the wrongs of the world, but it can change your attitude which then ripples through the people near you and far. Just for today, smile more.

331. “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?” (Mt 7:9) But what if you truly don’t have the money for bread AND rent AND medicine. Many of us aren’t that desperate, that’s why it’s incumbent upon us to feed, house, and heal those in need. “When someone is given a great deal, a great deal will be demanded.” (Luke 12:48). Teach your child to give to someone in need this week. Do it yourself.

332. Save your Words. Many conscientious parents talk too much. In general, people listen more closely to a few, well chosen words, spoken when needed, than to someone who has "diarrhea of the mouth." Your child is no exception. Do you talk too much? Too little?

333. Save your “No’s.” Sure, children need discipline, but if every parental preference becomes a no-no, it dilutes the power of a really important warning. When you do say, “NO” be firm and stick to it. Once kids learn that “No” really means "whine longer and my parent will give in," the ante will keep rising.

334. Are you a model? Not the drop dead gorgeous magazine type model, but the kind of person you’d like your child to become? Is there anything you’d like to change about yourself - for the sake of your child? Consider your eating habits, your temper, your computer habits. Remember your child is watching.

335. Halloween: beyond scary and sweets. As the “evening before All Saints Day,” Halloween reminds us of the holy people who have gone before us. Ask your child who their favorite saint is? Who are they named after? Who do they admire as a living saint? Learn together.


Susan Vogt
Author, Speaker, Coach
523 E. Southern Ave. : Covington, KY 41015
Phone: (859) 291-6197 : Fax: (859) 291-4742
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