In my pediatrician’s office, there is a poster that says:
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch you words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny
It’s so true that our actions become habits which build up or break down our character. And the time for developing good habits — virtues — is while children are young. Children’s characters are like freshly made play-doh – malleable and relatively easy to form. As children grow into teens and then into adulthood, their characters become harder to form, like old playdoh that dries up and gets crusty.
Most kids don’t think of the effect their actions have on their character. But once children reach the age of ten, I think it’s worth pointing out to them that the way they treat their family members now and the virtues they exercise now will have an impact on the type of person they will grow up to be. You don’t become an accomplished pianist just by waiting to become one. You practice daily and faithfully, drilling in those musical passages until they become a part of you. The same goes for developing one’s character. Want to be a great husband and father? Start by being considerate and generous now. Want to be successful in your career? Start by being industrious and persevering now. As I told my son, if you wait until you’re grown to be the wonderful person you want to be, it might be too late, because old habits die hard.
To be a little more proactive about growing in virtue this year, I made Virtue of the Month cards for my kids… and yours!
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Yesterday was the feast day of one of my favorite saints, the hard-working, anxious St. Martha. I was actually relaxing (for once!) while watching my children swim in our neighbor’s pool, when I got a call from Cale Clarke. He wanted to know if I would like to talk about this blog and St. Martha on his nationally syndicated talk show on Relevant Radio… that very day!
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How’s your summer going? I hope you have fun plans lined up and some time to enjoy a slower pace of life. One thing I always do in the summers is establish a new routine for chores. When new chores become habitual in the summer, the coming school year goes more smoothly… and it helps a lot!
Another thing I work on during the summer is teaching my kids to be orderly. I wish I were one of those people who are oblivious to clutter, socks on the floor, and toys randomly scattered throughout the house. Instead, for better or worse, I’m kind of a neat freak. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I have learned to put on my blinders and ignore scattered toys, especially the path of destruction left by Hurricane Junior, (a.k.a. the three-year-old). However, order is an important virtue. So it’s something we work on throughout the year, but especially during the summer.
Continue reading “Teaching Your Kids to be Tidy”
This one’s for the Dads — the generous, hard-working, unsung heroes of our day. And in honor of my own incredible father, I’m reprinting a post my brother wrote years ago about our Dad and the invaluable lessons he imparted:
Let me be the first to point out that I’m no parenting expert, psychologist or self-help guru. In fact, I’m not an expert on anything in particular. I’m just a regular guy who loves muscle cars and vintage motorcycles, and my loving wife and kids. Like most of you younger dads out there, I’m just trying to navigate through life while raising two daughters in this crazy world of ours.
Growing up the only boy in a family with two sisters, I quickly learned to navigate the unique peculiarities common to the fairer sex, and somehow I survived the confusing period of my adolescent years.
Luckily for me, my dad was a great role model who, among other things, helped me understand that one of the secrets to getting far in this world isn’t “figuring out” women, but rather knowing how to treat them.
Fast forward 20 years or so and I find myself in my dad’s position; surrounded by kids and a wife. I’m definitely thankful that I had a great role model to impart unto me some priceless lessons about being a father (of daughters) which I’ll impart on to you. Needless to say, if I had sons, these points would be on the top of my list of lessons to teach them as they ventured into manhood, as my father taught me.
Now consider these thoughts for a moment.
Continue reading “5 Things My Dad Taught Me About Fatherhood”
A few days ago, I asked my husband how his teleconference went. “I only spoke to one person,” he replied. “Everyone else was busy trying to homeschool their kids.”
With an increasing number of school districts closing schools for weeks, and some for the rest of the school year, many parents now consider themselves homeschoolers. After all, their kids are doing school at home. However, truth be told, they’re not really homeschooling. They’re Corona-schooling. And there are some significant differences:
Continue reading “Why Corona-schooling is NOT Homeschooling”
“Mom, I’m bored.” Have you heard that yet? It’s only been one week of closed schools… and it’s probably felt like a long one. Social distancing is tough on kids and tougher on parents. No school, no sports or extracurricular activities, not even playdates! How can we keep our kids occupied during this coronavirus season? Here are 25 (mostly) educational activities to keep your kids busy, engaged, and away from the screen:
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This month it’s official: three of our kids are now full-fledged teenagers. I know the thought of having three teens in the house makes some people shudder, but I think teenagers get a lot more bad rap than they deserve. When my siblings and I were teens, we certainly gave our parents gray hairs. But on the whole we had a great rapport with them. They worked really hard on our relationships, guiding, supporting, and encouraging us.
We can expect the teenage years to be a roller coaster ride. After all, it is a time of rapid growth and development, so frustrations, disappointments, and misunderstandings are bound to happen. But this doesn’t mean the teenage years need to be as awful as many anticipate. I can honestly say I enjoy my teens’ company and conversation. And they are often a tremendous help around the house. Of course we have our moments. So to help navigate through them, I made myself a list of Dos and Don’ts, mostly gleaned from parenting books and wise advice. For those of you with kids age 12 and up, I hope you find it helpful!
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Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Christmas season! One thing I love about a New Year is that it is a time for fresh starts. Each day is also a fresh start, especially when it begins with a peaceful morning routine. Why wait until the end of the day to decompress? Begin the day with stillness and prayer. And so I thought I’d share this post, written by Melissa Atlee, a dear friend and homeschooling mama: How My New Morning Routine is Giving Me Peace.
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How many of you are thinking of getting your tween a cell phone for Christmas? Because we all know that in the eyes of a tween or teen, a shiny new cell phone under the Christmas tree is even better than Santa. And the pressure is on: everyone at school has a cell phone nowadays. It seems that all the kids on sports teams, scouts, and youth groups have cell phones. If you don’t get your kid a cell phone this Christmas, you’re a veritable Scrooge forcing your child to remain in the dark ages.
But before you jump on the cell-phone band wagon, consider the pros and cons:
Continue reading “Kids and Smart Phones: Weighing the Pros and Cons”
Last post, I shared with you St. Don Bosco’s secret to discipline. Did you read how he could get 500 boys to sit in a hall and study quietly and diligently, without threats or punishment? If you have boys, St. Don Bosco is the saint for you! He is a shining example for parents and teachers. Today I share with you some of his own words of wisdom on education and discipline:
Continue reading “St. Don Bosco on the Education and Discipline of Youth”