Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hope (because you can!)

Hope is to expect with confidence, to be realistic, to have a goal and to live in the present where God is with us. Live with the determination that we can reach that goal and having a realistic plan on how are we going to reach for it with specific actions right now. 

Our children should know themselves on a positive and realistic way and should have a project for life, something to fight for, a reason to be living.

Where am I going?  How should I live my life? What qualities in human beings are admirable and worth emulating? What goals are worth pursuing? What leads to fulfillment in life, and what does not? This is the most important project they should be working on, and having that in mind they will be living a better right here and right now, with hope for a future. 

In this present instant is where we have all the grace of God and His help to overcome the difficulties of today.

Stop living in the past or afraid of the future, start living the present because today you CAN, you have His help!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


It is true that someone made me suffer or that they hurt me or my feelings, and it is true that I am patient and flexible, but do I truly forgive and forget??? Our culture teaches us revenge, indifference or avoidance, not forgiveness; you see it in movies, TV, everywhere, but is not right to live in a payback mode, it makes no sense and it is exhausting. 

When you forgive, you are not accepting evil or ignoring it, you are understanding that such person has done you harm, but it is not up to you to judge his or her intentions. It could have been a misunderstanding, lack of communication, it could have even been done with good intentions.

Evil does not come from external circumstances, it comes from the way we react to those circumstances.  If evil enters our heart with hate, resentment or anger it is because we have an emptiness in our hearts, a lack of hope and love. If you live your life focusing on doing good to others, you may suffer when others hurt you, but you will not hate.

When you forgive, you set yourself free from resentment and contempt; when you hate someone that hurt you, you keep thinking of that person all the time, you are chained, enslaved to him or her. When you make peace with him or her, you set yourself free!  You will be amazed of the great feeling that comes from forgiving. It is heroically hard for the other person to get in front of you and ask for forgiveness and it is heroically hard to truly forgive.

When we see our children practicing the act of asking for forgiveness and forgiving, we should reward them because it is a truly important virtue to learn. As life gets more and more complicated, they will have to practice forgiveness regularly to maintain healthy relationships and to become great adults.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Modesty - protect your family!

A person’s dignity depends upon living in a manner that will achieve the purpose for which he was created, to be sons and daughters of God.

“Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity”[1].

“Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It is discreet”[2].

"Modesty of the feelings as well as of the body: The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening in them respect for the human person.
A modest person recognizes the value of his own privacy and respects that of others. He protects his privacy from the gaze of others."[3]
From these definitions we can see that there are four areas in which we have to consciously work to live the virtue of modesty:
1-Custody of the eyes. Avoid permanent damage that can be done to you and your kids forever: be mindful of what is seen on TV and the Internet. 
2-Manner of speaking. With discretion and charity. Not revealing all the information you have to everybody, especially your private family matters. Seeking guidance from someone you trust.
3-Manner of dress. With decency, elegant, beautiful.
4-Manner of acting.  Motions, walking, gesturing, touching, sitting, bending to pick up something from the floor, with grace and elegance.

Our home is not only our castle, but also a place of privacy where we retreat to reflect, to relax, to be ourselves. Take good care of it. Protect your family!

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, #25221
[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church #2522

[3] Raise Happy Children, Teach Them Joy

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Head of the Family During Difficult Times

World crisis, financial crisis, heightened violence, health issues-  you look around and see all these problems and you are the head of the family. Scary, right?

I was reading an excellent book on sales in difficult times: "If You're Not First, You're Last" by Grant Cardone, where he writes about getting immobilized by bad news, when things are not going well: a family member hospitalized, financial crisis in the family and how suddenly you can find yourself doing little more than being worried, scared and unproductive.

He recommends that when things tighten up, you must be more disciplined, structured, and constructive with the time you have. Here are some other great recommendations that work for difficult times (and for excellent times as well):

  • Keep to a "power schedule" packed with constructive and productive things to do. 
  • Take extracare of the your health, your intellect, and your spirit. Organize a schedule with time to pray, time to exercise and time to work. Set a specific time to go to bed at night and wake up in the morning. 
  • Talk about positive things or don't talk at all. Mentioning a list of bad things going on around you will only get you depressed. 
  • Read the news don't watch them on TV; usually TV news channels go over and over the same bad news, and is only one not a thousand. There are more good news out there but it doesn't sell to tell how well things are going on.
  • Spend quality time with your family. 
  • Things are not so bad. Count your blessings. Be positive.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

All Is Possible With Love

We read this today on our church bulletin and we want our children to read it, often!

All Is Possible With Love
Intelligence without love is malevolent.
Justice without love makes you relentless.
Diplomacy without love makes you a hypocrite.
Success without love makes you arrogant.
Wealth without love makes you greedy.
Docility without love makes you servile.
Poverty without love makes you self-righteous.
Beauty without love makes you superficial.
Truth without love makes you offensive.
Work without love makes you a slave.
Simplicity without love makes you vain.
Law without love makes you inflexible.
Faith without love makes you a fanatic.
The cross without love becomes torture. 
Life without love makes no sense.
May we comprehend all this with Love.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Children See, Children Do

We don't realize the powerful influence we have over our children. They are excellent imitators of everything they see us do; the good and the bad.  This amazing Australian made video says it all - without saying a word.

Share this post with your friends and make your influence positive!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Plans - Again (and Again!)

The official start of summer is tomorrow, so I was writing a "Summer Plans" related article for our blog, but halfway through it, I remembered we posted on the subject last year!

Reading it again, the most important paragraph for me is still the last one in the post: "There is no particular science to this. Overall, try not to micro-manage every waking moment and give them free time to play on their own and be creative!"

You can read the article by clicking here.

Have a great summer!

Friday, April 22, 2011

What Teenagers Really Need

We see our teenagers taller, stronger, more independent, forming their own point of view about things. They are helping around more, learning how to drive - they still have a long way to go...
  • They still need limits, supervision, they still need to obey us, they need our advise and our approval, they need to see that we respect their ideas and their well being.
  • They require our example, to see that we use good manners  and are fair when we enter into a discussion with them or when we are reprimanding them. 
  • They need to know that we love them no matter what their grades are, if they get a place in the team or not, or if they get accepted into an Ivy League school or not.  
  • They need to hear and get the same message from mom and from dad.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Teenagers - Binge Drinking - Spring Break

Spring break is one of those holidays in which - "traditionally" - teenagers engage in binge drinking, drug abuse and more. Imagine the freedom they feel: turning 16 with no "responsibilities", having everything: cell phones, enough money, even a car. They can "do whatever they want".  They go on group trips and parties.  The first drinks generally break the ice and, since they are very well aware that their behavior is illegal, it gives them an additional adrenaline rush and makes them think they are in control, "like grown-ups";  it's "fun".  But they are not and it isn't.

In their excitement  and ignorance about the consequences of their actions, they do vodka and tequila shots on empty stomachs, they mix different kinds of drinks and when they try to stand-up,  they pass out; it's too late. Consequences of this behavior can be dangerous and serious, they can include life or death situations, because rarely do their drinking buddies call 911 in case of an emergency occurs, because either they are too intoxicated and cannot identify the situation as an emergency, or they fear getting caught doing something they know to be illegal.

When our teenagers have to face all of this, the question is: can they make the right decisions and avoid these behaviors? Every parenting act (or omission) comes to bear now. It is now when our children look back at what we told them (or didn't)  for a reason to avoid this harmful behavior or just "go for it!"; we can only hope that whatever we told them as parents will help them do the right thing when they encounter these situations.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Selling Ideas at Home - Happiness!

I recently read the article "The Business of Happiness" by Nancy Cook in the excellent Fast Company magazine.
The article explains how the anticipation of a pleasurable experience feels as good as finishing an onerous task (like a marathon or an exam). They discovered that a meaningful experience such as volunteering often makes people happier than moments of pure pleasure.

Unknowingly, it seems that we have being trying to apply these concepts while raising our children. Kids like to feel happiness through meaningful experience - helping Dad finish an almost impossible job, for example, organizing the garage, or mowing the lawn. Helping mom fix a closet. These are volunteering kind of experiences that will make them feel happy and proud about "helping mom and dad", rather than just a moment of pleasure, like giving them money to buy some candy or an iTunes app.

The article goes on to mention that studies have found that happiness for young people is about excitement and that happiness for adults is about peacefulness. When "selling" an idea, a house rule, it is much better done through this kind of process - believe me, we've tried them all. Playing with a young child in order to get him to fix the bed together before leaving to school is better than yelling at him "go do your bed or else you will be late for school!!!!". It is also generally faster and you make sure it's done.

Playing some music, singing and dancing silly old songs while fixing the dishes is a more playful, joyful and fun way of making them do the dishes, rather than fighting over who did the dishes yesterday and whose turn it is today. All of them will rather have fun at the kitchen with whoever is making this playful time, than go somewhere else.

Happiness is in our hearts; make somebody else happy and you will be happy too!