Tag Archives: marriage

Home Education; teaching children how to be married.

I’ve got a half started post sitting in drafts about teaching sex education in home ed. But reading a few things recently has made me realise that it’s not sex education children need, it’s marriage education. In fact, looking at some of the more traditionally based curricula, I see things that lend itself towards forming children in such a way as to make them good parents when they are old enough. This learning also lends itself to making good priests and religious. In fact I remember Mother Angelica saying (and she isn’t alone in this view) that a woman who has never felt the desire to have children, will make a terrible nun or sister.

The reason I’ve been thinking more about preparing children for marruage, and the discernment of their vocation is because there is yet another bunch of statistics that show annullments in the USA are epidemic, and I am going to assume the problem is nearly as bad, or worse even, here in the UK. From vague memory, I don’t think Australia or Canada are doing well either.

As a whole, Christian marriage is in a mess, as more and more demoninations cave to the culture on divorce and remarriage. The Catholic church still teaches the Biblical law on marraige and still maintains it sacemental nature, but the shocking number of annullments granted begs a few questions:

Have annullments become Catholic divorces? That is, are ‘pastoral’  concerns over-riding truth and validity of marriages? And is this at the expense of children?

Or are these marriages really invalid? In which case an awful lot of people are entering into marruiage without the proper standards and freedom to do so.

Ot is it, as I think is most likely, a messy mixture of the two?

Whatever the root problem, there are some serious problems that need addressing urgently, to try and prevent more broken marriages and destroyed families. The Holy Father has already asked priests to be more aware of who they are marrying, because if these annullments are legit, then a lot of people are coming to the pastors and asking to be married when they have neither the knowledge or freedom to do so, and the pre-marriage preparation on offer at parish level is neither long enough, nor deep enough to root out those who are not validly entering the Sacrament.

Parents, as the primary educators of children, have a “right and duty” to educate our children for their adult life. It’s up to us, first and formost, to ensure out children know what marriage is, how to prepare for it, and what constitutes a valid marriage. And we have to face the fact that the biggest lesson our children will learn on marriage is from their parent’s marriage.

As both Pope Benedict and John Paul II pointed out, a man having a “mid-life crisis” and committing adultery is not grounds for annullment. The adults need to take responsibility for what is happening, and make valiant attempts to protect the children.

Jesus was firm that divorce was not acceptable to God (in fact the OT has the words from God “I hate divorce”, which I think is in Hosea) and Moses had only allowed it thanks to “hardness of hearts”.  Jesus said marriage is for life, unless it has been cotracted in “pornaea”.  A lot of English translaters put this down as “adultery,” but scholars understand Jesus didn’t mean adultery. He meant illegal marriages such as the pagans got up to, where siblings married or some other forbidden set up.  St Paul allowed divorce for those unevenly yoked – that is a Christian to a pagan who might otherwise hand them over to the authorities. This, today, is called the Pauline Privalege.

A marriage is valid when a man and a woman enter into it, freely, in understanding of the nature of the covenant and oath they are taking and open to children. They need to know what the vows mean and they need to know what it means to make a covenantal vow in God’s Name to receive the Sacrament and the grace that goes with it. If someone is standing in the face of God swearing in His name to take that other person til death do them part, and to be open to the children God wants to send, but has no intention of doing either – they are lieing in a very serious manner.

The sad, and scandelous information is that many people have no real idea what marriage is, when they enter into it – and that is what is getting them annulled. And  while it is certianly true that children retain legitimacy, the damage and pain to children in these situations is just as devastating as divorce.

I want any child of mine to first discern what life they are called t,o and if it is marriage to have a full understanding of what that means. There are times to talk and for questions to be answered. They must understand the nature of marriage and the dignity of the person. They must learn about service to others and putting the needs of another ahead of their wants and even needs at times.

They must learn to be responsible and independant, to have life skills and to have such a deep understanding of family life that they can “do family” themselves when the time comes.

I have not, at this point, bought any books or curricula on this, although my older ones have taken a great deal from the talks given by Jason and Chrystalina Evert: there are some good youtube vids which I think I may have posted here some time ago.

I haven’t even mentioned the horrible Wedding-consumer culture. That is truly yuk.

Marriage and Home Education (part IV) Inlaws and outlaws

The next challenge for all marriages and I am afraid I believe, especially for families who choose to home educate, is the place of the wider family, such as siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts and so on.

The fourth Commandment is “Honour your father and mother”. It seems to me it is a “hinge” commandment between the things we owe God (worship only Him, Keep His Name holy, honour the Sabbath/Lord’s Day) and the things we owe in love of neighbour (no murder, theft, adultery, lies and gossip about others, envy of stuff and envy of  people). So it is a very important.

But what does it mean on a practicle level?

Marriage is the moment when a man and a woman leave their old family home under the authority of their parents and, to quote Jesus “Become one flesh.” This sets up a new authority, with the husband as the priest of a new household. The wife works alongside him and together they are the primary educators and carers of the children. That doesn’t mean we suddenly ignore the extended family, or start disrespecting the grandparents. But it does mean the spouse and children come first after God.

In home educating families I know, so far I have yet to come across anyone who hasn’t had to face a very hostile reaction from someone.  It seems to me that it is better to remain silent on the issue as much as possible. You can quietly steer your children away from rude reli’s who set up impromptu ‘tests’ for your children.

I don’t advise getting angry (with them) as it will just cause family problems. Sometimes this can’t be avoided – as a friend of mine is discovering. It is very much harder to deal with this sort of thing when you are just starting out and having to find your feet in the great task ahead. The last thing you need at this point is the sense that you have to jump through hoops to prove you are doing the right thing. 

There is another aspect of the 4th Commandment that needs looking at. What is the duty of a home educating family towards frail or elderly parents. I know Dr Ray Guarendi has his mother in law living with them now. This is something many homeschoolers in America do and it’s something I believe is right. It is actually part of how the children learn. They learn to respect grandma even when she’s confused, frail.

In the UK, it is no longer part of our culture to automatically care for our elderly rekatives. They are put in homes, and left to the care of people like my son and back when I worked -me.  In most cases the older person gets less visitors than the average prisoner.

Part of the atmosphere of education – the culture of the home- needs to be that we serve others. That having younger children around all day, or sick childre, or an elderly relative, is a normal part of life.

I get increasingly uncomfortable with the “put I want my life” attitude that sadly has, in too many cases been handed down to use from our parents who imbibed the 60’s revolution big time.  We can’t turn the whole juggernaut around, but we can, in our little home educating mini-communities, try and ensure our children aren’t drowned in it.

There are obviously many practicle obstacles these days to having grandparents live with you. The major one is housing that is suitable, and the fact that the economy is so weighted against young adults that they can’t move out. But the fact that more adults live in one place, could work out to make it easier to care of a grandparent in their own home, by sharing the care.

marriage (part III) Mother, father and children.

The subject of marriage can and in fact does, fill many a tome so I don’t want to get too bogged down in a few blog posts. What I really want to look at is how marriage should be for a family who have chosen home education.  We acknoweledge that God must come first or else we will start putting ourselves and our own ideas ahead of Him and His commandments; but what happens after that?

For a home educating mother like me how do I order my responsibility to my husband and children? I think Therese nailed it in her comment on my first post

a family flourishes when the person who needs to be served is served. We all get something from looking after everyone in the family.

If God is first He can guide us in discernment when we aren’t sure who should get the lions share of attention, care and love. Obviously, Therese and I have had the experience of a very sick child and that tends to take priority in a very in-yer-face kind of way. But what about the everyday home education set up? How do we – or how are we supposed to balance the place of husband and children?

I remember listening to a whole load of lectures about the Proverbs 51 wife and thinking “I just can’t do that!” I can’t make sure I am nicely presentable and the house is beautifully clean for when my husband gets home. Certainly I was always trying to keep the house sorted and the children presentable for his home coming but by the time all that was done I had no time (nor inclination) to put on make up and change the baby-sick dress for a nice one. The challenge is made far worse by the fact I am ill – fibromyalgia sucks the life from me, so that by the evening I am just about functioning. This is not to say I should be let off the hook of being a loving and responsible wife and mother; but it genuinely makes the process so very much harder.

 I read something Rita wrote some time ago about how some men had never had to sacrifice at all in their marriages because the wife did it all for them. Then, when she was dead he was left in a right mess, having never had to cope with difficulties or even boiling an egg before.

What about Ephesians 5 then? It’s one of those Scriptue passages that has become notorious. “Wives submit to your husbands…” is the bit that gets the most attention, and thanks to this unbalanced approach t over the years it got rejected by many women.  Let’s face it, how can a wife submit to a husband who is disobeying the next line, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church.” He loved the Church by His Passion, the pouring Himself out for her.

In home education the most common stumbling block in families seems to be that one parent will not support the idea nor process of home education. Now, I have frequently heard advice saying, the parent who wants to HE needs to wait until the other parent is on board, especially if it’s dad who is resistive. However, for some that simply isn’t a sensible or safe option. If a child is in a terrible state in school then a decision to withdraw them has to be made. Is that putting the children over the spouse? Is that breaking the command of Ephesians 5? I think it can’t be because the parents have a responsibility to the education and welbeing of the children. If a child isn’t getting an education and is in seriously detrimental situation then the parent’s duty must surely be to remove the child.

When I first started home educating I found the adjustment really hard. I wasn’t well and I had a baby and then I had to pull my son out of school and soon had my daughter home too. One HE mum on seeing how utterly exhausted I would get suggested I needed to hand over more work to my husband, She said she had read of HE families where the wife didn’t cook the meals because her life was too full of children’s needs. So the husband had to cook when he got home from work. Now, as it happens I too know of families who don’t HE where the husband cooks after work and so on, but I just couldn’t do this. While I was never going to make it as Proverbs wife I was determined that the house would be presentable and the dinner cooked when he got home. That was part of my agape for the family.

As far as I can tell the Church does not teach that the wife must put the husband over the children; this is a view coming from other Christian communities. The Church teaches that the family is a domestic church, made in the image of God. A wife and mother puts her husband and children before other people and a husband sacrifices for the wife and children before others. In doing this there should be enough love, time and support for the needs of extended family and friends to be met.

If God is kept first then the other love should follow, as St Augustine said something along the lines of ‘love God and do what you like.” He didn’t mean you can sin happily, he meant if God has His proper place in your life, you will choose to do right as He guides you.

marriage (part II) Putting God First

It is generally agreed, even if only theoretically, by most Christians that God must be first in life and that means He comes first in marriage. But what does that mean? Well, I suppose on a basic level it means we do what He wants  us to do and so we had better find out how He sees marriage and what He expects married people to go.

Continue reading

The order of marriage. (part I)

Listening to some of the homseschool workshops and to a recent Catholic Answers program I am interested by the reminders given out about the order of marriage.

The order of love in a healthy marriage, we are told, needs to be God first, spouse second and children third – anything else after that. The warning that is put out to us mums is to beware of putting the children first. This is a particular temptation to those of us who home educate- because we are with the children so much more than anyone else (including God).  The warning to fathers was to never put work first- which is a very common dad temptation.

Something not mentioned, but which does come up on a pretty regular basis on Catholic phone ins, is the business of putting the in-laws first. I think anecdotally this tends to be a problem with husbands and their mothers, although husbands with their fathers can also be a huge stumbling block. Less often, but often enough that I think it merits notice is a wife putting her mother or father above her husband and children. This often leads to terrible friction over how the children should be treated. All of these problems get mentioned often in Catholic discussions (Dr Ray Guarendi deals with a lot of this).

The order of marriage as God first, spouse second and children third is something I have heard from many Christian homeschooling mothers. However when the question of the order of marriage came up on Catholic Answers recently, it became apparent that the Church has not put this order in place in her teaching.

Certainly God must come first. Putting other people or things over God breaks the first commandment and will inevitably lead to the other nine getting compromised in some way.

But what about the order of spouse and children? The Church teaches that they come together. This interested me because I have to admit the “rule” that the spouse must come before the children worried me. Like many mothers I have had to deal with a very sick child on more than one occasion.  There was no other option, that I can see, than to put the needs of that child above the needs of everyone else in the family (including, in fact especially my own). The idea that on top of my own really bad health at the time I was supposed to take care of a dangerously sick little child and STILL put my husband’s needs above that strikes me as asking for more than is reasonable.

So I am relieved to see that the Church does not teach this order of marriage. But we must remember always to put God first. Only in this way can we hope to know how to live as a family. We have to know what He says and how He says it – and then we have to do as our Mother commands (at the wedding); “Do whatever He tells you.”

Marriage was elevated to a Sacrament so that in receiving grace from God we could love one another and our children even in the hard times – and we are to bring each other and the children to heaven.

The question then is, how are we to do this? In what way to we keep God first and how do we balance the needs of our spouse and children? Does home educating the children upset or improve that balance? And I think I need to look at that modern problematic business of authority and power – whose is the head of the family?

Next time…

40 yrs of Humanae Vitae – God and marriage pt II

In 1930 the Anglican Church held it’s Lambeth Conference. They decided that contraception should be allowed in extreme circumstances for married couples. According to an article in the evangelical magazine Touchstone (which I recommend btw) the reason this decision was made in the face of Scripture and Tradition was that many anglican clergy were already contracepting and wanted the okay for the sin they were committing. I can’t find the article at the moment.

The decision caused Pope Pius XI to immediately respond and Casti Connubii was written in the same year. If you haven’t read it-take the opportunity.

In CC the Holy Father reiterated the holiness of marriage and its place in our relationship with God the giver of Life. 

But the door had been opened and more and more Christians began to see contraception as a possibility and as in the West material wealth increased there was less willingness to have children.

The most well known and widely used modern contraception is The Pill as it has become known. It is a group of pills of various mixtures of synthetic hormone designed to make a woman infertile. The history of the Pill is well told and very ugly. The side effects and damage done to the health and lives of women-including those who died-did nothing to stem the tide of use. In her lecture ‘Contraception, Why Not?’ Dr Smith gives a pretty thorough overview of history post 1930 and the fall out from contraception.

You can listen to it on MP3 HERE

I am not having the time to write about this properly so I will leave it there for now.