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5 Things that Helped Me Become a Better Parent

Sometimes on the path to sainthood, being a parent can be a really really REALLY  hard thing to achieve. I mean…kids. Wow. I could just stop this post right. there. And you would all get me. No explanation needed. But, I’m going to soldier through this for those who really need actual, tangible tips. For you, I continue, friend. 🙂

My husband and I {left} with his sis and brother-in-law - we went out to dinner in Pittsburgh over the summer. Dinners out are a great way to reconnect!

My husband and I {left} with his sis and brother-in-law – we went out to dinner in Pittsburgh over the summer. Dinners out are a great way to reconnect!

1. Children whose parents genuinely and completely love each other are not neglected. Spoken during a homily, the sentiment behind this was very clear -when you put your spouse ahead of your children, the children flourish from that love. While it may come as a huge shock to some that my husband and I have been known to bicker here and there ::gasp:: our children are conversely and rarely spared a moment in the common areas of our home where we aren’t enjoying each other’s company through a friendly game of love taps {I’ll let you decide how that game goes 😉 }, continuing our unending battle of who can be more sarcastic or giving way to lots of affection – juuuust enough to drive them out of my kitchen and get them out from under my feet while I cook! It’s really quite entertaining to see how many EWWWW GROSSS‘s you can get from your kids. We should really consider making it a game. 😉

Visit this article I wrote on date nights on the cheap with your honey for inspiration for your next date!

We snuck out for a morning date at 6:00 a.m. daily Mass on Ash Wednesday.

We snuck out for a morning date at 6:00 a.m. daily Mass on Ash Wednesday.

The two oldest volunteered a week of their time to put on our parish Totally Catholic VBS and three of our littles attended.

The two oldest volunteered a week of their time to put on our parish Totally Catholic VBS and three of our littles attended.

2. The best thing you can give your children is the gift of another sibling. This one doesn’t require a lot of explaining – I hope!, but it was the result of another great homily I heard. In a world that often creates this ridiculously unwarranted fear of children {or the need to control when they can be born or if they should be born}, it struck me as the epitome of the counter-cultural mentality that the Church embraces and wants its followers to embrace. Be counter-cultural; have more children. This, of course, isn’t meant to make light the crosses of those who struggle with infertility or other serious situations that prevent couples from having more children, but really adopt the idea that – no matter how your family grows – you can always count on siblings as being a gift to your children. When I first heard this homily, we only had two children at the time, one boy and one girl. We often were told we had the perfect family. I always wondered what that phrase actually meant. Perfection resides in the ability to accept what you have at the time that you are given it, whether that means you have one child, no children, or as many children as you end up with.

I can

I can’t imagine my life without my little blonde kitty cat!

3. You’ll never regret the children you have. This gem is one I heard from a woman and it escapes me where now – probably on one of my Catholic or Large Family boards back in the day. It was such a simple reminder that being open means not looking back and wondering if you accepted all the blessings God wanted to give you. A common misconception I face is that people often equate openness with the number of children we have. I’ve heard anything from “You’re doing a good job, you have six kids!” to “I don’t worry about you!” I could have 10 kids and still worry whether I am being open. I think it’s likely there are many of us Catholics who are constantly discerning that openness and what it looks like. I also find myself, as I slide into the sunset years of fertility, a bit wistful, too. I want to remain open to God’s blessings of another child, but with it, I also have to be open – and accept – that if that door has already closed and six children is, in fact, it for us, I need to be at peace with that. I’ve tried my best to find that sense of peace after each child’s birth because we aren’t guaranteed that fertility will come easily.

As if pushups aren

As if pushups aren’t hard enough!

4. Do something for YOU. It’s good for your kids to see you take time for yourself. In our house, it comes in the form of service and sports. For me, outside of the home, I find absolute fulfillment in being able to help with our Adult Faith Formation program. As a cradle Catholic who lacked full understanding of the Faith as a youth, and knowing that other adults are in the same boat, it is where I find a lot of joy – seeing men and women go through our parish Jesus Is Lord course and witnessing their reversion of heart towards Christ. It’s absolutely amazing. My husband, on the other hand, finds fulfillment in playing softball with his Knights buddies on Sundays and playing TVBall with some fellow parish friends. Wherever you can, find time to do something just for yourself.

My husband {middle left} and his buddy {left} lost their title TVBall trophy to incoming champions and fellow parishioners.

Me with two of my Jesus Is Lord cohorts

Me {left} with two of my Jesus Is Lord program cohorts.

We won’t discuss whether she *should* have been doing her schoolwork.

5. Have a sense of HUMOR. For the love of all that is good and holy, exercise humor! Don’t be like I was years ago where I wrongly thought being Catholic meant you couldn’t crack jokes. Sometimes, it really might be the only way to get through the day! In our house, we like to rib each other, telling jokes, one-upping the jokes, and trying to balance out the more serious conversations in the house. If we consider that life should strive to reflect perfect balance, you will see that a good belly laugh with your spouse or your children can have a wonderful effect on the entire mood of the home. One thing that we often like to do – no joke, our kids actually ASK us to do this to them – is…this is embarrassing…draw on them. Uh hem…look below.

Pulled from the “why we have children” file.

This picture needs no explanation.

This picture needs no explanation.

BONUS:

I’m a selfish person and having kids helped me become less of a selfish person. Roughly paraphrased, this father of nine children shocked me with this comment. I had mistakenly thought the same thing as I pointed out as “wrong thinking” above…that somehow the number of children automatically makes someone open, faithful, unselfish, etc.. It was eye opening. It was also a reminder that children can and should be the iron that sharpens us, causes us to think about ourselves less, act in ways that are good for the entire family vs. only ourselves. Have you found truth in this?

 

SOUNDOFF

What are some things that have helped you become a better parent? Share in the comments!

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About Martina Kreitzer

Martina is a cradle Catholic, wife to Neil, and mother to seven kiddos here {and three in heaven}– 4/96-1/17. She decided to homeschool the kiddos in 2010 after many years in public schools and is currently transitioning out of homeschooling. She is the creator of Catholic Sistas which focuses on a feminine perspective of the Catholic Faith. The website was the result of an existing camaraderie by the contributors in a Catholic women’s group she created. She is also a Seal of Approval evaluator for the Catholic Writers Guild. Lest you think she spends all her time online, Martina has enjoyed getting out into the community by serving on the Pastoral Council from 2010-2013. She is constantly on the lookout to make her parish as welcoming as the small town she grew up in East Texas. This task is not easy given that St. William is the largest parish in the Austin diocese, serving well over twenty thousand parishioners. She loves Jesus, coffee, bacon, chocolate, photography, more bacon, evangelizing, and the company of those unafraid to use their sense of humor.

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