A Big Hand to Our Parish

October 30, 2006

Before I do two posts on the latest First Communion workbook lessons, I want to give some big kudos to our parish for the supplemental material they used in class and sent home this week.First, they gave out Halloween candy! No, the candy wasn’t the good part. The good part is the paper attached to every bag of candy. It reads:


“Hallows Eve” sounds like Halloween.
Halloween is celebrated on the “Eve” or
night before “All Saints Day.”
All Saints Day used to be called “All Hallows.”
Candy given today on Halloween comes from
An old-time practice of eating “little cakes”
On “All Hallows” and then praying for
The souls of all our Catholic ancestors
Who died and are in Heaven.
Say a prayer this week for all the souls in Heaven!

I have never seen a parish explain where Halloween actually came from. Okay, so now you have a cheap tool for evangelization to give out with every piece of candy on Halloween.

Secondly, my daughter’s teacher explained what Holy Days of Obligation are and reminded everyone that they needed to go to Mass on All Saints’ Day.

My First CatechismThirdly, the teacher is supplementing the religious ed workbook with My First Catechism, a great, inexpensive catechism for little kids.

Finally, and best of all, is the religious education newsletter that was sent home with all religious education students today. The newsletter starts off with information about a “teaching Mass” that is required for all confirmands. This Mass is going to be a step-by-step walk through of the Mass with explanations given by our pastor. The next page provides a list of recommended movies for family viewing. The list gives ratings, a brief description and warns if the movie is too mature for young children. The list includes:


  • Enchanted April
  • Chicken Run
  • Lilies of the Field
  • The Bicycle Thief
  • Cheaper by the Dozen (the original)
  • Trip to Bountiful
  • The Incredibles
  • Roman Holiday
  • The Incredible Journey
  • March of the Penguins
  • Shindler’s List
  • Babette’s Feast
  • Singing in the Rain
  • The Pink Panther
  • National Velvet
  • The Tree of Wooden Clogs
  • Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Stagecoach
  • Chariots of Fire
  • Citizen Kane
  • Modern Times
  • Stand and Deliver
  • The Blue Angel
  • The Bear
  • Born Free

The best part of the packet is a five-page essay titled “The Catholic Family”. The essay comes from the Association for Catechumenal Ministry. We carry this company’s RCIA program and recommend it for every parish. The student book is $300 BUT you only need to buy one for the entire parish because once purchased you have unlimited reproduction rights for the entire book making it a great investment for the parish.

The essay starts off this way:

In the latter part of the twentieth century, a breakdown in the family occurred that had not previously been experienced. Divorce rates, which had been roughly stable except for a brief period after World War II, began rising and are more than twice as high as forty years ago. Many millions of children are victimized by the breakup of their parents’ marriages, and themselves grow up wary of committed relationships. Each new break with the law of God has brought additional havoc to the family. Not only divorce, but also contraception, cohabitation, and abortion have devastated marriage and the family. A huge variety of social pathologies exist that seem to rise as the number of intact, stable, two-parent homes falls. And, although children may manage to develop into healthy, happy adulthood, more who might have done so, do not. Yet there is a better way to create a home and raise children, to avoid these tragedies and rebuild the foundation of human society.

What a Catholic Family Looks Like

In God’s plan, the family is a community, founded upon the marital consent of the spouses, and the children they bring into the world or adopt. Marriage exists for the good of the spouses and for the procreation and education of the children with which God blesses them. The education and nurturing of their children is the right, responsibility, and privilege of parents. With this wonderful privilege comes accountability to God for its responsible fulfillment.

I would love to reprint the entire essay but since it is copyright, I’m not going to. I will say that the essay goes on to quote Ephesians on the roles of husbands and wives (both the bit about mutual submission and that part about wives being submissive that priests tend to leave out of the Gospel reading). The essay also talks about the Holy Family being the example to follow.

The section on raising children is also quite good. It starts:

Raising Catholic Children

Before God, before themselves, and before society, a husband and wife as parents in a family have awesome and indispensable responsibilities. First, they must know that they live not with but for each other; for happiness here and hereafter. They are responsible for living in such a way as to assure that they will be forever together in Heaven. They have a reciprocal responsibility for each other’s sanctity and salvation. To fulfill this obligation of mutual love and to provide the proper environment for wholesome Catholic living, parents establish a home characterized by respect, tenderness, fidelity, forgiveness, and self-sacrificing service. In this Catholic home, virtue can grow, for it is fostered by self-denial, solicitude, and just judgment as well as by a spirit of faith through which the things of God are given priority over the lesser things of daily concern.

Th next section gives a list of four things that are essential to religious education and says that these things need to begin in preschool:

  1. Children must learn to pray.
  2. Children must learn to worship in community. They insist that taking all your kids to Mass is vital and that teaching them to behave and pay attention is critical.
  3. Children must learn Catholic attitudes.
    1. A sense of the sacred
    2. A sense of family
    3. A sense of the good
    4. A love of truth
    5. A sense of service
    6. A sense of hope
  4. Parents must help their children learn to avoid and resist sin. This section is interesting because it ties in the Bible passage about a millstone around the neck to not only overt attempts to get children to sin but also to the failure of parents to teach their children right from wrong.

I hope your parishes provide wonderful material like this. It gives me hope that the next generation of the Faithful might actually have a clue about what the Faith is.

20% Off All Sophia Press Books and New Olive Wood Items for Christmas

October 25, 2006


October 25, 2006

We have a large selection of Olive Wood in stock. Each style is in limited supply. Make GREAT Christmas gifts! Many Nativity styles available.

This beautifully hand-carved statue of the Madonna and Child is 8 3/4 inches tall and made of olive wood from the Holy Land.

Only 1 left! Actual product pictured.

This beautifully hand-carved Nativity set is 3 inches tall and made of olive wood from the Holy Land. In the background is a tower with a hanging bell.

Limited Quantities Available.

This beautifully crafted rosary is 21 inches long and made of olive wood from the Holy Land. Uses 8mm beads. Crucifix measures 1 5/8in. x 1in.

This beautifully hand-carved Nativity set is 3 inches tall and made of olive wood from the Holy Land. In the background is a carving of a star.

Only 3 left!

These beautifully hand-carved statues of the donkey and three camels 3 1/2 inches tall and made of olive wood from the Holy Land.

Limited Quantities Available!

This beautifully hand-carved statue of the Holy Family fleeing into Egypt is 7 1/2 nches tall and made of olive wood from the Holy Land.

Only 1 left! Actual product pictured.


The Usual Suspects are Mad at Our Bishop Again…

October 24, 2006

It must be election season.

Commonweal is very upset at Bishop Sheridan in Colorado Springs because he addressed the intrinsic evils of abortion and gay marriage without bringing up the death penalty and unjust war. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

The bishop’s column can be read here.

If you want to read the warmed over, regurgitated tripe that passes for intelligent discourse in liberal “Catholic” circles, click here.

If you want some resources to assist in making an intelligent decision about the upcoming election, we’d be happy to sell you some.

Why We Never Give Money to Pink Ribbon Campaigns

October 23, 2006

The journal of the Mayo Clinic has published a key article in its October 2006 issue entitled “Oral Contraceptive Use as a Risk Factor for Pre-menopausal Breast Cancer: A Meta-analysis”.

Basically, their major findings were that oral contraceptives ARE, beyond any doubt, linked with a measurable and statistically significant increase in pre-menopausal breast cancer.

Basically means that the contraceptive pill can make you have breast cancer before about age 50yrs.

More here.

Why Little Kids Wouldn’t Like to Visit St. Peter’s…

October 22, 2006

According to my four-year-old son“They don’t serve donuts.”

Time to Purchase Your Yearly Calendars and Christian Prayer Guides

October 20, 2006

Time to purchase your yearly goods!

October 19, 2006


Support our troops! Aquinas and More Catholic Goods has created this soldiers’ registry as a way for you to help support our troops’ spiritual needs while they are away from home.

We have a huge selection of military and patriotic goods!

This attractive 16-month 12×12 wall calendar: Lists all the indulgenced works of the Church on a month-at-a-glance basis, highlights the twenty-two special days when a partial indulgence becomes plenary to honor a day, color-codes the indulgences for easy identification, has scholarly notes on the history of indulgences, contains the conditions for earning both partial and plenary indulgences, gives the complete text of over a dozen different indulgenced prayers, carries weekly reminders for Friday fasts and Saturday confession.

This beautiful Calendar features a different full-color picture of Our Lady for each month, plus Marian prayers, Scripture passages and Catholic traditions on the Blessed Virgin Mary. It shows the Saints’ feast days and Sundays of both the New Calendar and the Traditional Calendar, plus Historical feasts that are no longer on either calendar–such as St. Philomena, St. Gemma Galgani, St. Tarsicius, and St. Dismas (the Good Thief). All feast days are marked as to their status.

This item will ship in November/October of 2006. Order early to insure you get your copy as soon as it becomes available!

An inexpensive, handy missal for use on all Sundays and Holy Days. This is the most popular Annual and most economical Missal for parish participation. It contains the complete Masses for all Sundays and Holydays from December 3, 2006, to November 25, 2007. Completely up-to-date.

This essential reference book provides a summary of all liturgical information for every day of the year including liturgical colors, liturgy of the hours psalms, readings, a brief note about the Saint of the day, notes about any special historical significance of a day, special intentions, anniversaries specific to each diocese and a brief overview of general liturgical law. Make sure you choose the correct book for your diocese. Imprimatur.

The Liturgy of the Hours is truly the prayer of the Church for all the people of God – bishops, priests, deacons, religious and the laity. The purpose of this handy Guide for Christian Prayer is to facilitate use of Christian Prayer, the one-volume Liturgy of the Hours, by providing clear, accurate references for each day of the year – always in accord with the principles on which this particular Breviary was compiled.

The Catholic Almanac remains the only annual, comprehensive guide to the Catholic Church. It is the esential one-volume reference work for students, teachers, researchers, homilists, writers, and media professionals.

Myth 1: A person can buy his way out of hell with indulgences.

This is a common misunderstanding, one that anti-Catholic commentators take advantage of, relying on the ignorance of both Catholics and non-Catholics. But the charge is without foundation. Since indulgences remit only temporal penalties, they cannot remit the eternal penalty of hell. Once a person is in hell, no amount of indulgences will ever change that fact. The only way to avoid hell is by appealing to God’s eternal mercy while still alive. After death, one’s eternal fate is set (Heb. 9:27).

Myth 2: A person can buy indulgences for sins not yet committed.

Read More here.

The Blessing Of the Minivan

October 20, 2006

I wish we had had this when we got our last minivan.

Our minivan is a Chevy Venture. It is the only minivan that seats eight. This Christmas we will try to go to Tucson, AZ with all the seats full of children under the age of eight. The only reason why we are attempting something this insane is that the next step up in size is out of our price range right now.

Part III: Why we only carry Faith and Life and Image of God Religion Series or…

October 17, 2006

Why the USCCB’s approved religious education book list is only slightly more useful than a magic eight ball.

It’s week three and we have another doctrine-packed week of handouts to go through. Unfortunately, Faith and Life (F&L) only devotes a couple of paragraphs to the study of heroes aka saints instead of a whole chapter so the comparison will almost be fair this week.

This week’s lesson in Blest are We (BAW) is called “Our Church Shows Us How to Live”. Before I go any farther, I need to pick a bone with the title of this series. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, “Blest” has two meanings: 1)Worthy of worship and 2)Held in veneration. Doesn’t it seem a little presumptuous for a religious education series to be called “Blest are We”? But I digress.

This chapter starts of with a verse based on John 13:35.

Love one another. Then everyone will know that you are my followers.

Time to pull out the trusty RSV and find out what the verse REALLY says.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Once again, it is just too much for these folks to use the actual Bible. They have to make the verse pc to avoid offending their sensibilities.

The rest of the page has pictures of heroes including firefighters, EMTs and a girl reading to a blind man. The page says

Some people are heroes. They help others. They show us how to live. Find the heroes in these pictures. Draw circles around them. Who is your favorite real-life hero? Why?

As an aside, my daughter drew a circle around the seeing-eye dog instead of the girl reading to the blind man. There are no wrong answers here!

At the bottom of the page with an arrow pointing to the next page is the question “Who are the Church’s heroes?”

And the answer is… the Good Samaritan. Remember him? He was last week’s Catholic literary heritage tidbit. Now, I admit that the Good Samaritan was good but he isn’t a hero of the Church – he isn’t even real. To use him as the first example of Church heroes blurs the line between saints and other people who do good things. I’m sure that wasn’t the intention. 😉

The next page talks about “Heroes of Our Church”.

The Church has many heroes who are like the good man from Samaria. The Church has Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the saints. From these church heroes we learn how to be holy. We learn how to be good followers of Jesus.

Notice that emphasis so far on heroes and saints is focused entirely on social justice issues. Helping the downtrodden, helping the handicapped and being emergency response people.

In the sidebar are two boxes – “We Believe” and “Faith Words”. The “We Believe” box contains the following:

We grow in holiness by living in love. We grow in love for God and others through constant practice.

I don’t know about you, but I would have a hard time explaining the phrase “living in love”. Maybe second graders are smarter.

The “Faith Words” are “saint” and “holy”. A saint is:

a person who shows great love for other people and for God.

Holy means

to be like God. Holy people act like Jesus.

The definition given of being a saint is completely generic and could include the Dali Lama, Oprah Winfrey and Madonna. It also fails to point out that saints are DEAD. Chapter six of F&L defines a saint as

someone who lives with God in Heaven. A saint is someone who loved God very much while on earth.

The bottom of the page asks “How can we imitate Mary and the saints?” If you are expecting anything more than what came before, you are mistaken.

The next page gives us four examples of saints under the sentence “Mary and the saints teach us how to live as Christians.” : Mary, St. Peter Claver, St. Brigid and St. Jerome. Mary ” teaches us to trust God and to care for others.” St. Peter Claver “cared for people nobody else cared about. He teaches us to reach out in love to everyone in need.” St. Brigid “sold her belongings and gave the money to poor people. She teaches us to share our blessings with others.” St. Jerome “loved to teach people how to read and understand the Bible. He teaches us to share the word of God with others.”

From this page we learn that to live as a Christian we need to

  1. trust God and care for others
  2. Care for others
  3. Care for others
  4. Share the word of God

Now, caring for others is certainly important but that is pretty much all that has been mentioned in this entire lesson. Also, I am pretty sure that St. Jerome had little interest in teaching people anything since he lived as a hermit and was known for being a grumpy old man. I also wonder how he was able to teach people to read the Bible when a) hardly anyone owned any books and b) he was spending his time translating the Bible into Latin in seclusion.

The next page asks the children to draw a picture of a hero or a picture of the child acting as a hero. My daughter drew someone sweeping the kitchen and someone else preparing a meal (I think). At the bottom of the page we find another page-turner of a question: “How can we ask holy people to pray for us?”

Notice that throughout this chapter there is a concerted attempt to blur the distinction between everyday heroes, heroes in parables and the saints. This isn’t by accident as the next page shows.

The next page has a “Litany of Saints and Heroes”.

A litany is a prayer that is said aloud.

A leader names different saints or other holy people. (emph. mine)

After each name we ask the saint or person to pray for us. (emph. mine)

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Saint Peter Claver, pray for us.
Saint Brigid, pray for us.
Saint Jerome, pray for us.
All who help the poor and the hungry, pray for us.
All who care for the weak and the sick, pray for us.
All holy men and women, pray for us.

Heavenly God (not Father), may we follow the example of your saints and other holy people. May we always try to help people in need. Amen.

First of all, a litany is always prayed to God or the saints. There is no such thing as a litany to “holy people”. In fact, this litany doesn’t even require that the person be dead! Notice also that everyone and everything specifically mentioned in the litany is mentioned for social justice reasons. No one is mentioned as a confessor, or someone devoted to prayer, or someone who was a martyr. Notice also that because of the blurring between saints and heroes, you are basically free to decide who is a saint.

Okay, now that we have covered (or not) what a sainthero thing is, it’s time to move on preparing for next week’s lesson with Family Time! Chapter four is called “We Praise and Thank God”. I can’t wait.

The page starts off by mis-quoting Saint Augustine. “Saint Augustine said that those who sing pray twice.” Actually Saint Augustine said that “Those who sing WELL pray twice.” But no matter, we shouldn’t be sticklers for things like this when doctrine is treated in such a vague and misleading way.

Things to do this week include 1) making a list of things to praise your family members for. 2) Singing grace and 3) playing “Name that hymn”.

In line with last week’s “make a family member blest” activity comes an activity where in the unit called “We Praise and Thank God” we praise and thank each other. I am starting to wonder if this is intentional.

Number two caught my attention because it suggests the following as a grace before meals:

Evening has come, the board is spread. Thanks be to God, who gives us bread.

It then asks the parents to explain the meaning of “board” and “spread”. If words can be defined during family time, why can’t they be defined during class time? For example “special oil” could really have been called “Chrism oil” in last week’s lesson. Never mind that there actually exists a Catholic prayer before meals. We don’t want to offend any non-Catholic students who are in this class preparing to receive First Holy Communion. Oops! I mean First Eucharist.
The next page suggests the following activities. 1) join in the singing at Mass this week 2) think of something each day to be grateful for 3) visit http://www.blestarewe.com

Just out of curiosity I went to the website (BAW recommends this every week) and found that there wasn’t any more substance there than in the workbook.

The chapter ends with “Something to Know About…Our Heritage in Music”

Since the seventh century the Church has been expressing its praise of God musically through Gregorian chant. Named after Pope Gregory I, chant is a solemn form of singing that creates a harmony between words and melody. Because in some pagan religions music was used to stir up people, Christians were encouraged to have a kind of music that was prayerful. Gregorian chant met that standard. There were other kinds of chant before Gregorian chant, but it was more beautiful and developed than some of the others.

In recent years a group of monks put out a recording called Chant that proved to be very popular. It revived interest in Gregorian chant.

The section also has a picture of a chant for “Feria Tertia” in actual chant notation. The workbook gets several points of extra credit for even mentioning that chant exists and for not degrading it. On the other hand, the book manages to completely overlook the elephant in the room by avoiding any mention that chant is supposed to be used in church even today and crediting a revival in interest to a cd recording from more than 12 years ago.

Since F&L doesn’t have a saint section, I can only put in the paragraphs that are part of other chapters:

From chapter 6: Many Catholic children are given a saint’s name. It may be your first name, or it may be your middle name. A saint is someone who lives with God in Heaven. A saint is someone who loved God very much while on earth.

Ask your parents or teacher about the saint whose name you have. Maybe they know a story about him or her. Ask your saint to help you to be a saint someday too!

From chapter 34: We all die someday. Our souls and our bodies will be separated. If we have loved God in this life, we will be ready to love God forever. God will welcome us into Heaven. We will be happy there forever. We will see Jesus and Mary and people in our family who have died. The souls in Heaven are called saints.

Did you notice that BAW managed to get through a whole unit on the saints without using the word “Heaven” once?

A Small, White Casket

October 17, 2006

When people ask how many siblings I have, I usually say three – a sister and two brothers. But it isn’t true. I actually have three more. Two were miscarriages and one was a sister, Erin Patricia, who died when she was two weeks old. She would be 28 now.

When people ask how many children we have, we usually say “six” because explaining two miscarriages isn’t comfortable.

This post reminded me of these things and I think everyone should go read it. 😦

H/T to Kicking over My Traces and the Catholic Carnival at Deo Omins Gloria this week.

I Hate Large, Homeschooling Familes

October 15, 2006

Okay, okay, I admit it. The title was just a ploy to get you here to read this post. Before you pull out the knives, please agree to the following conditions and hear me out.

1) Put aside any personal affront you may take to what I am going to say and ask yourself “Does he make a valid point, in spite of any insult I may take from what is written?”

2) Don’t post a reply that consists of some version of “Who does he think he is?” “I can’t believe he is so judgmental!” “Does he think his family is above everyone else’s?”

3) While it is always nice to read comments that affirm what I write, I am far more interested in hearing from people who can make a valid argument against what I am putting down here.

Agreed? Great. Let’s get started.

To any of our friends who read this, please know that we love you, love your families and hope that this post won’t do anything to harm that friendship. The only reason I am writing this post is because I truly think that the issue at hand is more important than the feelings that may get hurt.

I started writing this post eight years ago on the night before we moved from Dallas, TX to Denver, CO. That day we had several friends help us pack up a Ryder truck at our apartment and one family with several youngsters stayed for dinner. At this time we didn’t have any children but had noticed a general tendency among our friends to be very lax about discipline and in many cases to be oblivious to their kids’ behavior. We served pizza for dinner and one or more of the children thought that wiping the pizza on the dining room wall and on a pillow was a perfectly acceptable thing to do with pizza. To the best of my knowledge, the parents never knew this was happening. We took the pizza away from the kids and spent the latter part of evening cleaning the dining room wall (pizza sauce on a white wall) and washing bedding. What struck me about the incident is that the kids did this as if such behavior was normal and that the parents made no effort to keep the kids sitting in a safe place in the house while they were eating.

Over the years, we have witnessed in our own house:

  • company who brought red koolaid in sippy cups that got spilled on our carpets
  • numerous kids who wouldn’t eat what was served and complained about the food
  • numerous children who thought that telling their parents “no” was acceptable – and got away with it
  • several occasions where a child would yell at mom, and dad wouldn’t correct the child
  • countless instances of “if I have to tell you one more time” or “this is your last chance” when it wasn’t and neither were the next dozen times
  • kids who intentionally dumped food on the carpet in front of their parents without any correction
  • parents who let kids wander around with food after we had told the kids to stay in the kitchen to eat
  • a caned headboard destroyed because a child thought it was a great thing to stick a toy sword through. Many times.
  • a bathroom covered with poop. I am not exaggerating, I really mean covered.

All of this I have been able to handle over the years because these things happened in our home and not in public. However, last week I realized that this behavior wasn’t confined to the privacy of homes where the general public couldn’t see. Last Friday a Mass was celebrated by the bishop for the homeschoolers in our diocese. Apart from the bishop, there were three other priests and a deacon assisting at the Mass. After the Mass, the children descended like a Mongol hoard on the reception tables and carried off plates piled high with what they didn’t destroy. By the time the priests and bishop had gotten their vestments off and come out of the sacristy, the reception tables looked like a pack of wolves had been romping on them. After this incident, I decided that it was time to write this post, come what may.
We homeschoolers and we with large families take a certain pride in being “different”. Unfortunately, that difference is frequently only visible by the magnified chaos that comes with having five undisciplined children instead of just one. Whether or not you want to admit it, homeschoolers and large families especially are highly visible in public, and people watch you. They watch you for two reasons: to snear or to find hope.

When they see you, which person walks away satisfied? Which one do you want to walk away satisfied? The Bible calls us to be lights on a hill. Pope John Paul II called the Church “a sign of contradiction” and by extension, parents who live out the Church’s call of generosity to life and take seriously their call as the first and primary educators of their children are also that sign of contradiction. Can you honestly say that the way your children behave in public and the way you react to their behavior fits with that light on a hill? Is your children’s behavior a sign of contradiction in a world where respect, manners and decency have been all but lost?

I would ask, no, plead with you to consider what impact you may have on those you encounter. When that unwed pregnant girl sees you with your five hellions at the grocery store, is she going to think that her boyfriend was right about a visit to Planned Parenthood? When the couple with two kids who is being pressured by their “friends” to “get fixed” see your family, are they more likely to agree with their friends? When the person who hates Catholics, Mormons or Christians in general because they “breed like rabbits” sees your family, are you giving them one more excuse for feeling the way they do?

Or, when those who live in the dreary reality of hedonistic America see your family do they think “This family is different. They have something I want”? Do people come up to you in restaurants and tell you how wonderful it is to see well-behaved children? I don’t mean those that say you have a beautiful family, I mean those who specifically mention “well-behaved”. Are you actually able to take your children to a restaurant nicer than McDonald’s without ruining others’ meals?

If you are unsure of the reaction your family provokes, you need to take a serious look at how your kids are being raised. Like it or not, your family is a tool of evangelization and by taking on the responsibility of a homeschooling and possibly large family, you are also taking on the responsibility of being a “poster child” for those actions. I would suggest that the following list is a good “public behavior” standard to work towards. By public, I mean in Church, in society and in friends’ homes. I fully understand (from personal experience) that for some reason getting the children to behave as wonderfully at home as they do in public is not always feasible. But I also have yet to meet a family whose children are angels at home but demons in public. What goes on at home always shows in public.

For the kids:

  • I say “please” and “thank you” consistently, and, in general, without prompting.
  • I greet and say goodbye to adults when I see them.
  • I eat what is served without complaining.
  • I don’t say “no” to my parents or to hosts when they tell me to do something.
  • I do what I am asked without arguing.
  • I help clean up any toys so that the play area is at least as clean as when I arrived.
  • I do not throw tantrums.
  • I do not break toys or furniture at a host’s home. If this happens accidentally, I tell the host right away and apologize.
  • If I am old enough, I help clean the kitchen.
  • I don’t constantly ask my parents to buy me things when we are shopping.
  • I do the best I can to help when my parents are running errands.
  • I say “thank you” when I receive a compliment.
  • If my parents say “no” to a request, I say “okay” and don’t pout or ask again.

For the parents:

  • I pay attention to what my children are doing. If they are out of sight, I check on them regularly.
  • I do not let my children wander around with food or drinks. I make them eat at the table or I take the food and drinks away.
  • I don’t let my children have food or drinks outside of the kitchen that can permanently stain carpets or furniture.
  • If a child tells me “no” I correct him. If he continues to say “no” I start taking away privileges until he either complies or is stuck in a corner for the rest of the visit or we leave.
  • If I make a threat of punishment, I mean it.
  • If I am the father and a child talks back to my wife, I discipline the child.
  • I clean my kids’ faces and hands before they leave the table.
  • I make sure that my kids only take what they can eat or I serve them myself.
  • I make sure that clergy are served before my kids.
  • I insist that my children help clean up toys.
  • I do not make excuses for my children’s behavior.

Getting to the point when you can be reasonably sure that your children will make a good impression in public takes three things: consistency, resolution and patience. It will not happen right away but if you consistently expect a high standard, your kids will step up. If you mean what you say, your kids will respect you.

In the end you will find that not only do you get a lot more compliments about your family, you will also find taking your family out can be enjoyable.

So what’s it going to be? Are you going to be a sign of contradiction? Are you going to be the kind of family that an old couple with fragile antiques and a white carpet would feel safe inviting over for dinner? Are you going to be a ray of hope in a world that despises children? Are you going to be the encouragement a couple needs to be open to life?

I end where I began – by saying that I am not trying to hurt people’s feelings, nor am I trying to insult anyone. This issue – Is your family a positive or a negative influence on the culture? – is too important to get tied up in hurt feelings. If we are truly going to build a Culture of Life, we are the ones responsible for making it a place people want to be.

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