Monthly Archives: November 2011

For Donna, RIP 2nd Anniversary.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of my dear, and much missed friend, Donna.

It is her second anniversary today.

Please remember her daughters in your prayers and all who miss her

The young lady sitting on the bench next to Donna lost her grandmother and another home ed mum soon afterwards. it’s a lot for a child to deal with.

I know many of you are prayer warriors out there :).

With thanks

What mothers give their children.

Some songs are just worth hearing. LOL

First Sunday of Advent. Stirring up a Herman Cake

As Advent begins and we are called to get stirred up and wake up, we are doing something rather traditional here.

We are taking part in a great Herman cake making. This is an old Scandinavian or German or…around those parts, tradition. We are given the sour dough starter by a friend, K in this case. We get the kids to stir and feed the cake over the next ten or so days and then split it into four, one to keep and three parts to hand out with the instructions to other friends. The cake will grow and spread and feed a lot of people. It’s a lovely idea.

I managed to get to Mass this morning, which was great. Paying for it now, but it was worth it. Father preached a rather cryptic homily against the Black Friday approach to Christmas and, having a church full of non-attenders for a Christening, made it abundantly clear how empty life is when God doesn’t get a look in, and buying stuff we can’t afford and don’t need get’s centre stage.

I must admit, this is one of those struggle areas for me. I love watching people open their pressies on Christmas Day and all the excitement and interest that goes with it. For reasons I don’t ever want to blog about, I find Christmas very important, and the idea that the children have and share and enjoy their gifts is a big part of that. I try not to take the focus off whose Birthday it really is, but there is a place for generosity in “stuff” over Christmas, just as a way of reminding each other we don’t take each other for granted. It doesn’t have to be expensive (thankfully) and it shouldn’t be a massive financial burden, but Christmas gifts do have a place at Christmas.

Black Friday with it’s hob nailed boots and sharpened elbows probably doesn’t have a place. And buying cheap or expensive with no regard to the slavery that has often be used to produce the goods at that price ha no place in our Christmas shopping either.

I must admit to a dislike of the “generic gift” thing too, where no thought about the person has been spared. I love trying to find something that is just right for the person I am buying for, even if it’s very simple.

But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do some Christmas shopping and try and make the season special. So long as we remember that Advent is purple for a reason.

And finally a Happy Liturgical New Year to y’all.

Don’t forget you can get my free Advent lesson pack (part 1) here

Teaching NFP to our teens; when and how? And whether there should be an holistic teaching of NFP as part of family rights and responsibilities.

Talking with a fellow HE mum the other day, I wondered at what point I should be teaching the children not just about NFP, but how to chart.

Obviously, I have taught them (the older ones) what Christ expects of them in terms of chastity, preparation for marriage and marriage itself, but the mechanics of NFP are still, to a large extent, to be taught and learned.

So, when to do it and how? Do I approach the lessons now with my daughter as she is nearly 18? Do I teach the whole kit’n’caboodle to my sons, (aged 20 and 22) or just the bits that will help them help their future spouse? Or do I leave it until they are engaged? That seems a little late. I did wonder about teaching my daughter and getting her to chart for six months just so she had the system, but if her body changes before marriage – and it might – she may need to relearn.

I did wonder about her charting for a while when she was unwell, and we suspected thyroid problems. A chart would have shown it up, but in the end we didn’t get around to it.

So folks, when do you teach yours?

Then there’s the question of which method of NFP to teach. I must admit I think the sympto-thermal method is the most thorough and is excellent at showing health problems and possibly risks to fertility. But the Billings method with symptoms can also be a good aid to spotting health problems, so if a single woman charts, it would really be for health reasons and not fertility or child spacing. I have no doubt that spotting health and fertility problems early is a good thing – getting a doctor to listen, understand and not just prescribe the Pill is a whole new obstacle course.

I am inclined to teach NFP as a complete and graded holistic package, for want of a better word. First of all the children need to know how to eat a healthy diet.

Perhaps the next area I might want to teach is how the endocrine system works. Knowing how hormones are produced and balanced in a healthy person is a massive first step to appreciating the beauty and complexity of fertility, and will hopefully mean my children are well enough educated to avoid the sledge hammer approach of using the Pill to hide, rather than cure, any fertlity problem they might have. Obviously they don’t NEED to know all this to successfully use NFP, but I have met so many women who have problems conceiving or have repeated miscarriages and have no idea how their own body works. Most women I have talked to don’t even know what a Luteul phase is, much less how it might contain the answers to why they miscarried their baby, or can’t get pregnant in the first place.

There are many good reasons for teaching and learning NFP. One is, as Michael pointed out IN THIS POST ON STRONG FAMILIES, that the divorce rate among couples who use a natural approach is around 3% which is significantly lower than the over 50% in the general population.

The separation of sex from having babies has helped increase the distructive influence of pornography. The spread of this poison has been enhanced by technology and very poor supervision of children by parents and other adults.

By teaching our children some self respect, and respect of others we can hopefully curb some of this.

Home education free Advent lesson set

Pop over to Kalei’s blog That Resource Site and pick up the first half of my Advent freebie.

I am working away on the second half which I hope will take you through Christmas.

I have designed this for back to back printing so the blank pages are for the lapbooking, copywork and lesson pages.

The main text has note boxes for your own thoughts as you go through this, or might be useful for an older child doing independent study.

I advise you to read this with a Bible at hand.

Enjoy.

Home education; sex ed – things that can not be avoided.

Yet again the government is trying to squeeze through some educational legislation that will enable strangers to talk about sex with very young children, whether the children are ready to have the information or not, and riding over the role of parents again.  But unless parents pick up the baton on this, forced sex ed will happen sooner rather than later.

So what about home education and sex education? It seems to me that sex needs to be taught on a firm foundation of virtue and that there is a kind of natural order to how children will ask and learn about it. In home ed circles whole families interact with each other so all the children see mums expecting babies and babies when they arrive. They will ask questions about how a baby grows in a mummy’s body and as they get older they ask how the baby got there in the first place.

We cannot necessarily “pretty” it up, for want of a better word. They will see mothers who are not married, or who have difficult pregnancies and will ask around those questions too. We answer with gentle but truthful answers that are not overloaded with details a child should not be expected to carry.

What we really must ensure is that our children grow in understanding of their own dignity and have self respect. This will guard against a lot of self destructive behaviour later on. This will grow as part of the parent and children relationships. More and more research is showing that children need a close relationship with a mother and a father.

But even this organic learning will have to have additional learning at some point. I must teach my children about marriage; how God has designed marriage and why. There’s all the interesting biology and chemistry that goes with that too and of course teaching girls to be aware of their own fertility and health with Natural Family Planning.

But there are also the really difficult areas of sex education that need to be faced and tackled. I don’t know many parents who are comfortable with discussing pornography and masturbation, but if we want our children to have a chance of a happy, healthy marriage and family, or vocation to the priesthood, religious or single life, we had better face these topics.

We live in a culture soaked in the message that all sorts of sexual practices harmful to both body and soul, are perfectly acceptable. If we, as parents, don’t tackle these things with our older children, then we can be sure those around them will tackle it for us and with horrible results.

It’s a much more difficult world for our children than for us, but how do we tackle it?

First, I think, we need to have our own eyes open. There’s no point in ignoring what the mass media puts out and pretending our children don’t see it, hear it or have it forced on them, from toddlers upwards. We need to have a sensible approach and a close, loving relationship with our children. This is a good starting point.

I know a mother who undoubtedly protected her pre-teen daughter from rape because her daughter was able to tell her about the man who was grooming her and what he was saying. It’s a horrible thing to have to deal with – but not dealing with it leads to worse horrors.

The statistics on divorce in America show that over 56% of divorces sight pornography as a reason for martial breakdown.  I would add to that the fact that if you spend any time with rape victims you will soon see that pornography has played a strong role in their attacker’s lives.

The way I have tackled this is to teach children from an early age to see all their fellow men as persons with dignity, made in the image of God and with a human connection as we are all children of Adam. This then, leads to reminding older teens that the people who get involved in the porn industry often have had horrible lives and are needing respect and prayer. If it was their sister or brother posing like that, they would be heartbroken. The person IS their sister or brother in humanity and there’s nothing sexy about handing over dignity.

I have also encouraged the older three (aged 22, 20 and nearly 18) to say a prayer for anyone they come across who is doing this. Fortunately I began these “lessons” early enough as one of my sons told me that porn was easily found on the internet on school computers by some of the kids who bypassed the controls. He said teachers did not supervise closely enough.

But it’s easy enough to come across by accident when searching the net – especially, I have found, if I am searching for Biblical themes. Be very careful!

A strong prayer life is vitally important. I also encourage the children to keep holy pictures near their computer screens. It is far less tempting to click that link when the Pantocrator is staring at you, or the Blessed Mother.  :)

Chastity rings have been another great help for us – an outward sign of the prayed for grace. It’s a little reminder.

Tackle alcohol consumption properly. Don’t turn a blind eye when your teen comes home drunk. Don’t pretend you haven’t noticed. Drinking too much leads to all sorts of other sins and problems.

What if your child/adult fails and sins? Then make sure you are willing to listen or even challenge them. Forgive them and help them get back on the straight and narrow. Make sure they can get to Confession and to a different priest if they are chicken about confessing those sins to the parish priest who knows them.

Those of us who home educate have a somewhat easier time of it than parents whose children are in school. We see our children more closely, simply because we are with them. They tell us more, because we are there. Parenting schooled children is much harder and often we don’t get the pertinent information until well after the fact. Pornography is in schools, brought in on mobile phones and other gadgets. Do not naively believe your child wont see this stuff. In fact, if you are trying to bring up a good kid, they are likely to be targeted by those who carry this stuff around.

Finally I would say this. The culture is toxic in the extreme. As parents we have  much more difficult task these days than our parents or their parents had. But we must face it and do it. we must be aware of what our children are doing. Nevertheless, if you listen to Dr. Ray Guarendi long enough you will hear good parents who have genuinely tried their best, phone in about children who have seriously gone astray. It does happen. I saw it in my professional days too. Free will is just that, free will, and no matter how much we offer our children, there may be one or even two who go wildly astray. We must face that head on too, if it happens.

Strong families built strong economies, and weak families wreak havoc.

As the economies of the Western world sink lower and lower, some of those voices that have so long been ignored are finally getting a platform. There has been a meeting in Rome to look at the place of the family in economics. It has been known for a long time that countries need strong, mutually supportive families for the economy to be strong.

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