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Abortion Deirdre Ink Slingers Respect Life

Unity and Name Calling Within the Pro-Life Movement

Unity and Name Calling

In so many ways, the pro-life movement seems to be winning. We are passing multiple pro-life laws at the state level, attacking legalized abortion from many different angles. Abortion facilities are closing all over the country, while new pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, and pro-life women’s health clinics are popping up all over. We’re helping mothers in need, we’re reaching the youth (who are more likely to be pro-life than previous generations) and we’re helping abortion facility workers leave the industry in record numbers. We’re defunding Planned Parenthood and outlawing late-term abortion. Science is on our side too, with amazingly detailed sonograms, successful in-utero surgeries, and premature birth survival rates increasing everyday.

 

As Vice President Mike Pence declared at the 2017 March for Life, “Life is winning in America”.

 

So why does it often seem like we’re losing? I think one of the biggest obstacles to pro-life successes is our pro-life infighting. This is not only counter-productive to accomplishing our end goal of abolishing abortion, but it’s also scandalous.

 

There are all kinds of disagreements within the pro-life movement: should we take an incremental approach, or a complete abolition of abortion approach, or something in between? Should we focus on the unborn baby, or the mother, or on abortion facility regulations? Should we pass laws we know are constitutional and will be upheld in court, or should we push the envelope and pass laws that are currently unconstitutional, hoping the Court will rule differently and uphold them? Should we pass laws that contain exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother? Can one be a pro-life feminist or are the two mutually exclusive? Should we use images of aborted children in front of abortion facilities? What is the best approach to sidewalk counseling? Should we include other issues under the banner of being pro-life – euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and cloning usually count, but what about contraception, human trafficking, the death penalty, war, gun control, etc? What issues come under the umbrella pro-life? Who decides? We even argue over langue: abortion facilities or clinics or mills? Pregnancy resource centers or crisis pregnancy centers? The list goes on and on and on.

 

Discussions and disagreements about policy, about language, about our approach to this issue, have their place when they are constructive, and indeed can help us continue to evolve and move forward more effectively. The problem is when we let our policy disagreements turn personal. When we start attacking each other, we have lost sight of what we should be focusing on, and the enemy has won. I have seen this happen a lot in the pro-life movement: calling those we disagree with “fake pro-lifers”, as if there really were such a thing, or even worse, calling pro-life advocates “pro-abortion” just because you disagree on approach (this happened to me just a few weeks ago!). There have been recent discussions about who is pro-life enough and others have stated the need to “purg[e] the movement of the cancers” of those in the pro-life movement who they disagree with.

 

This is outrageous. We must stop this childish name calling, these petty personal attacks. We must stop putting each other down. I’m reminded of the old childhood adage: “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Let’s apply this to others in the pro-life movement, even those we disagree with. Yes, lives are at stake, yes, we urgently must end abortion. I absolutely agree with that, but we won’t end it any faster by name calling and putting other pro-lifers down. Disagree and discuss policies, but don’t attack people.

 

Certainly, there are problematic approaches in the pro-life movement. There are absolutely anti-Catholic groups, groups approving of violence or breaking the law, and groups that are advocating for policies that will set the movement back. I’m not naive enough to think all approaches are equal and deserve the same consideration. Harmful groups and policies should be called out as such and avoided, but preferably without the personal attacks.

 

We fight so hard for the unborn because we recognize their human dignity, because we know they are made in the image of God and worthy of protection. So why can’t we see that Imago Dei in our fellow pro-life warriors? What kind of pro-life witness are we being to those who support abortion, if we claim to love the unborn child, the least among us, but we have hatred in our hearts for others within our own movement? What kind of example are we setting when we say ‘love them both’ but we can’t even love those fighting this good fight along with us?

 

There is, of course, a sense of urgency in the pro-life movement, as there should be. Children are dying. I don’t want abortion to be legal for one more second, forget another day or week or month while we debate approaches and tactics and language. But it is the law of the land, and we must find ways to work within the system and around the system, as so many have been doing. Calling names, belittling others, and misrepresenting facts is not of the Lord. That is not the way He is calling us to fight this battle, and it is not the way we will win. We cannot win the rights of one group by dehumanizing those we disagree with. This goes for those who support abortion, those who perform abortions, those who have had abortions, and yes those pro-lifers we disagree with on policy and tactics. Please, before you call another pro-lifer ‘fake’, or take part in personal attacks and putting others down, stop and say a prayer for them. Then ask yourself: is what I’m about to say kind, true, and necessary? Will it help bring awareness to the humanity of the unborn, or only lead to dehumanizing others? As adults, we should be able to have healthy debates about different policy approaches without name calling, distorting the truth, and putting others down. That doesn’t help the unborn babies and it certainly doesn’t help our souls.

The late, great, Justice Antonin Scalia once said, “If you can’t disagree ardently with your colleagues about some issues of law and yet personally still be friends, get another job, for Pete’s sake,”. While he was referring to disagreements on the interpretation of law, I think this applies to those in the pro-life movement as well. Debate policies and approaches. Leave the name calling and personal attacks out of it.

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Deirdre Domestic Church Ink Slingers

On Being a Good Friend

On Being a Good Friend

I’d like to think I’m a good friend. I certainly want to be a good friend and I think most of us do. Praying for my friends and being fiercely loyal to them comes easily to me. But beyond that, am I really a good friend? Do I anticipate their needs or go out of my way to help them? Do I encourage them and lift them up, share their joys and their sorrows with them?

I have been thinking about this a lot because I have such a friend. In the last year and a half, I have been abundantly blessed by a wonderful friend in my city. In my gratefulness for her and all she has done for me, it has really made me think: do I take being a good friend as seriously as she does? Do I do all I can to help my friends and anticipate their needs? The short answer for me, unfortunately, has been no. I am not nearly as good a friend as I would like to be. But I want to be a better friend, I can improve, so here are some ideas I’ve come up with:

Ways to be a good friend

  • Pray for your friends – pray for their husbands, their children, their health, etc. Pray together when possible!
  • Don’t just ask ‘how can I help?’ – do something to help without being asked. So often I say “let me know how I can help” and think I’ve done enough. But most people don’t actually answer that question truthfully, because either they don’t know what help they need or they feel guilty asking for it. Rather than wait to be asked for help, just offer a concrete way that you will help and the time you will do it. It’s much harder to turn down when offered that way.
  • Anticipate your friends’ needs, before they ask – know your friend’s husband is going to be out of town for work for a week? Invite them over for an evening while he’s out of town. Plan a girl’s night out once her husband is back in town. Know her in-laws are coming to visit and it might be stressful? Drop off fresh flowers and a bottle of wine before they arrive.
  • Create a meal calendar and bring them a meal – meal calendars are common when someone has a baby, which is a huge help, keep that up. But what about when a mom is incredibly sick in her first trimester? I almost need more help getting through the first trimester than when I have a newborn. For my current pregnancy, my friend lined up meals for me during the first trimester, and would sometimes just drop off food for me, unexpectedly, just to keep me and my family eating good food. It was a huge help. What about meal calendars for adoptive families, or families taking in children from foster care? Meal calendars when families have lost a loved one or are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, etc. Bringing a meal to someone in need can be such a huge help!
  • Think outside the box – when we dealt with lice recently, my friend offered to help me bring all my laundry to a laundromat and hang out with me there while we knocked out ALL the laundry in just a few hours. While this didn’t work out for me at the time, I was just amazed at her thoughtfulness and her willingness to help me deal with all.the.laundry., possibly infested with lice. She also brought me tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner to combat future lice exposure and chocolate. So thoughtful.
  • Help a friend clean – my parents were coming to visit recently, right when I was nearing the end of a terrible first trimester of pregnancy sickness. I was so excited to see them but embarrassed by how dirty my house was. My friend insisted on coming over and spent a day helping me clean my house the day before my parents came. It was humbling to accept such a gift, but it was also such a relief and so wonderful to have help.
  • Swap childcare – recently my friend had my husband bring all the children to her farm for the day on a Saturday so I could rest. My husband and children had a great day on the farm and I had a nice, quiet day to myself. Childcare for lots of young children can be expensive, but having a friend who you can easily swap with is such a treat. Swap childcare so you can go to the grocery store without little ones in tow, or to take one sick child to the pediatricians’ instead of dragging them all along, or even for date nights.
  • Remember birthdays and anniversaries – maybe a birthday card, Mass card, piece of chocolate, or even just a text. Remembering friends’ birthdays and anniversaries is a small but meaningful way of showing you care.
  • Challenge each other in living out our Catholic Faith – don’t be judgey or preachy, but encourage one another in the Faith. Ask how their spiritual journey is going, invite them to more events at Church with you, etc. Call them out when necessary.
  • Listen – being a good listener can be hard but try to truly listen to your friends – their needs, fears, troubles. Cry with them in their sorrows and rejoice with them in their gladness.
  • Loyalty – be loyal to your friends. Don’t gossip about them, don’t listen to others gossip about them.

I am so thankful for the many wonderful friends I have had throughout my life. Amazing women who have taught me so much about myself, my Faith, and sacrifice. They have also taught me how to be a good friend, and where I need to improve. What a blessing true Christian friendship is!

SOUND OFF!

Are you a good friend? How do you help your friends in need? In what ways have others helped you? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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Deirdre Domestic Church Ink Slingers Respect Life

Bring Them a Meal!

In July, we moved to a new city and joined an amazing parish. Less than three weeks ago, I had our fifth child. While I was still in the hospital, the head of the mother’s group at our parish sent out a meal calendar for others to sign up to bring us a meal. By the time I was discharged from the hospital two days later, our meal calendar was full and women from our parish, our home school co-op, and women we had never even met before had signed up to bring us meals for the next two weeks! It was so amazing! It was such a relief to not have to even think about making dinner for two weeks after my baby was born. It was also wonderful to have visitors stop in for just a quick visit each day, to say hello and get to show off my newborn while having some quick adult conversation.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and because I am so thankful for the generosity others showed toward our family, I want to encourage you to bring someone a meal.

Who?

Of course, it’s wonderful to provide families meals when they have a newborn. It’s also a great idea to provide meals for mothers who are suffering from first trimester nausea. But we shouldn’t stop there: do you know a mother who has recently miscarried? I’m sure she could use a meal. Or a single mother or mother whose husband works out of town during the week? Maybe a family who has recently lost a loved one or who has a family member battling cancer. Maybe an elderly neighbor or a single friend. No matter our walk in life, I’m sure we all know someone who would appreciate a meal.

What?

Bring something that you can easily make ahead of time and preferably bring cooked and warm, ready to serve. If there are other children in the home, try to bring something you know the children will eat. Lasagna, chili, spaghetti and meatballs, baked ziti, chicken pot pie, fajitas, enchiladas, pizza, and BBQ chicken are some simple suggestions. In addition to dinner, so many ladies brought us cookies, cake, or candy for dessert, which was a big hit, especially for the children. A few friends also brought us banana bread, muffins, or donuts for breakfast along with the dinner they brought, which was really extraordinary. Some women brought cards, others brought flowers, someone gave us a giant container of peanut butter, all going above and beyond but brought so much joy to us! We were so grateful for so many thoughtful gifts, it was such a blessing.

Where,  When and How?

Bring the meal to the family’s home if possible. Find out what time they usually eat dinner and try to have the meal there about a half hour before that. The last time I brought a meal to a family, I failed to account for traffic and didn’t arrive until 5:45. Plan ahead! Keep in mind that this family just had a new baby and don’t stay to visit too long.

Being pro-life means so much more than protecting the unborn child in the womb. It means protecting and caring for every human life from conception through natural death. One great way we can do that is by bringing someone in need a meal. A family with a newborn baby, a family who has just lost a baby through miscarriage, a single mother, a widow, a lonely friend or neighbor. Today, we enjoy our bountiful Thanksgiving meals with our extended families. Maybe tomorrow, we could each think of someone in need and offer to bring them a meal in the coming weeks.

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Deirdre Homeschool Motherhood

Homeschooling and Working from Home: How I Do It.

One question I often get asked is “how do I do it?” How do I home school and work from home, along with all the other normal daily tasks of running a household that includes a 6, 5, 3, and 22 month-old?  I’m still learning how to do this myself.  But, here are seven tips and tricks for being a homeschooling, working from home, mother of several little ones.

Organization.  This is still a work in progress with our new household and new school year, but doing my best to organize my life, my appointments, my work tasks, my homemaking tasks, and my home schooling tasks, helps my entire household run more smoothly so it’s very important for me to continue to cultivate this. Weekly meal planning, keeping a detailed online calendar, planning ahead the times I will work on specific work tasks and when I will focus on home schooling, keeping the school room and house hold clean and organized all help our family function joyfully.12193546_829716260457_1469142615890109355_n

No TV, no electronics. This might sound counter-intuitive for a working-from-home mother but hear me out- I’m opposed to letting my children watch TV or play with electronic toys for a few reasons: 1. The scientific research showing how detrimental TV and screen time is on developing young minds 2. The overstimulation that comes from noisy toys and the instant gratification that comes from playing video games are not qualities I want to be fostering in my children 3. So much of the shows on TV and popular movies just aren’t good, they aren’t sending great messages or cultivating the virtues I want cultivated in my children from a young age and finally 4. Since my children know I never ever ever let them watch TV or use any electronics on my watch, they never ever ask me for them, and that is pure bliss! I don’t have to make any bargains about what they have to get done in order to watch TV, or be the bad guy turning off the TV once they’ve watched enough, and I don’t have to listen to any nagging about when they can watch something or fighting over what they can watch. They all know the answer is always no, so they don’t even ask. Instead, they read and look at a lot of books, color, play board games and dress up, and have toys that help foster creative and imaginative play. Once they are done with their school work, they just play. Together. Sure they bicker occasionally, but for the most part they get along really well and I love watching them play together. Their imaginations are limitless and I love eavesdropping on their make believe games. This also gives me time to work on household tasks or work related tasks, while keeping an eye on them playing together.

Make nights and weekends productive. My children go to bed at 8 pm and then I can work uninterrupted for a few hours in the evening. Often throughout the day, I’ll open several news stories that look interesting or important, and save all of them to read at night after my children have gone to bed. We don’t like to do formal home schooling on the weekends, but I do usually work on the weekends, especially since my husband is home to spend time with the children. I am lucky to have a job that I love—so for me, I enjoy working at night and on weekends most of the time.

Multitask.  Some days, I’m sending work emails in between calling out spelling words or working through math problems with the children. Some days I’m watching a committee hearing while cooking dinner. When I have a newborn, I’m often nursing while reading articles or contacting volunteers. Being able to multitask is pretty essential to getting through my day. But I also have to know when to turn off the distractions and focus on teaching my children. With home schooling, this has to happen every day. Usually in the morning we work on the subjects that need my attention and explanation the most, and once we’ve covered all the necessary subjects, the children can work on the rest of their tasks and I can work on mine: laundry, putting toddlers down for naps, cleaning, starting dinner, or work-related tasks.

Foster independence and assign chores.  While my children are certainly attached to me in the sense that they are home with me all day, every day, we also value age appropriate independence and assign daily age appropriate chores. For example, my oldest children can make their own lunches and make sandwiches for the younger children too. My older children can also vacuum, swiffer, dust bust, magic erase the walls, load and empty the dishwasher, set and clear the table, fold and put away all their laundry, clean a bathroom, sweep the front porch, empty the trash, etc. While we don’t have them do all of those chores every single day, they are expected to contribute to our family’s common good by completing their chores. They might not complete their chores as perfectly and thoroughly as I would have had I done them myself, but I’ve learned to let go of that and just be grateful the chores were done.

Consistency.  As one of my favorite bloggers points out: say what you mean and mean what you say.  If I tell my children they will get a treat after dinner if they behave properly while I’m on a work meeting, and they behave, they get the treat. Conversely, if I tell them there will be no treats if they don’t behave or don’t finish their chores, then there will be no treats. My children know that I mean what I say and I will follow through with it. This cuts out so much unnecessary whining and obnoxious attempts at negotiating. It also works to hold me accountable as well: if I say I’m going to work on Spelling with my 6 year old at a certain time, I have to shut my computer, stop working, and focus on Spelling lessons with him. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Consistency is so important in our household.11891468_819578536537_1706461858765743172_o

Don’t read the Pottery Barn Catalog.  While we think it’s important to have a clean home, we’ve accepted that our home is just never going to be immaculate, like the rooms featured in Pottery Barn ads.  Such a standard is impossible in a home with little kids and a working mother.

Having a flexible boss, flexible husband, and flexible children are also essential for me to succeed at both working from home and home schooling. I’m grateful for such supportive and understanding people in my life.

What tips do you have for running a healthy and happy home?  Sound off below!

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Deirdre Homeschool Ink Slingers It Worked For Me Parenting

Traveling Technology-Free with Children

My husband and I have lived far away from our families and friends for almost our entire marriage, so we take a lot of road trips with our young children. I’m not a fan of playing movies for my children and don’t give them electronic toys, so keeping them entertained on long road trips takes a little bit more planning and creativity. Here are some of my tricks and tips for keeping young children entertained on long road trips, without turning to screen time.

One of my best car tricks I learned from a dear friend when we lived in student housing in Austin: set up a store in the car, filled with various types of prizes: stickers, matchbox cars, magic invisible markers, books, special snacks and lollipops, etc. I try to have a variety of car-friendly activities and snacks/special treats in the store. These don’t have to be expensive, I try to find things on clearance or dollar aisles. I also have a set of toy money. My children are paid $1 for each half-hour or 1 hour they behave in the car, depending on their age and the length of the road trip, etc. In addition to normal expected good behavior, behaving in the car includes not asking “are we there yet?”, “how much longer?”, “has it been an hour yet?” or “when can I have my dollar?” I try to start the time on the hour, so it is easier for the children (and me!) to keep track of. Once they have behaved for a full hour, they earn their dollar. They can choose to buy something small from the store, or they can choose to save their dollar so they can buy something bigger from the store once they have earned a few more dollars. Admittedly, this game takes some planning: buying varying prizes for the store, having enough prizes to last the entire trip, and enough desirable prizes that different children will want, coming up with their prices, keeping track of the time and money, etc. But it also teaches them so much: they are learning about time, the clock, money, adding and subtracting, the value of saving your money versus spending it immediately, the varying prices of commodities, and adding and subtracting. I am also reinforcing values of obedience and good-behavior: if a child does not behave, they don’t earn their dollar that hour. I’ve also added in other incentives at times, like when my oldest son was learning to read, he could earn an extra dollar for every book he joyfully read to his younger siblings. This game has worked very well for us on various road trips, especially as the children get older. It’s harder to implement with young children but I will usually just reward a young child with a small prize when the older children are buying their prizes. There are many ways you could adapt this game to work for your family.

Certain crafts can also be great for road trips. We’ve had great success with stringing beads on pipe cleaners, stickers on construction paper, and pre-packaged craft projects from craft stores like foam letters and numbers to write things or make a picture on construction paper, or foam nativity pieces to put on a foam stable at Christmas time. With children as young as mine, I avoid projects that require glue or glitter or anything excessively messy in the car, but stickers and pipe cleaner projects seem to work well.

Coloring is another favorite for my children. I try to get them a new coloring book or small activity book for a car trip. Melted crayons can make a huge mess in the car so I bring colored pencils instead. But my new favorite coloring tool for road trips is magic invisible markers! The ink in the marker is clear, but color appears when the marker touches the special paper sold with the makers. These are fantastic because they don’t leave a mess on your car seats, clothes, or fingers, and the young children love using them and seeing a beautiful picture appear. This is a little bit more expensive of a road trip prize, but I have been able to find a package of 10-20 special pictures that the magic markers work on, and just buy one package and all the kids share it. They really love this road trip treat!

Books can be another great activity on road trips. Older children can obviously read their own books, and I strongly encourage this (as long as they don’t get car sick!) but my children also enjoy being read to. Our home school curriculum usually has a chapter book that we’re supposed to be reading for family read-aloud anyway, so I’ll bring that in the car and read that to the children, which they really enjoy. Another educational option is to bring library books specific to the area you’re going to visit (we brought some great books about the Grand Canyon and the dessert when we took a road trip out west. The children loved having new books to look at and learned a lot in preparation for the sights they were about to see). We tried a book on tape for our children on our most recent road trip, and it was not a huge success, but that’s mostly because our children are still too young. The 6 year old was very into the story, but the younger children were not. It was still great for the 6 year old and I’m sure the other children will enjoy it more as they get older. Favorite picture books for the younger children or a new book older children can earn from the prize bag are always a hit.

Of course classic car games can still be a lot of fun, for children who are old enough: My Mother Packed a Bag and the License Plate Game are essential to any good road trip! Spot It is small and easy for children sitting next to each other to play in the car. The Magna Doodle is another favorite for long car trips. Children of all ages can use it to draw and practice writing, but it can also be used for tick-tack-toe, hang man, Pictionary, and other drawing games.

The car can also be the perfect place for some home schooling lessons, especially group history and geography lessons relating to the areas you’re visiting. My children enjoy school workbooks, so I bring those and encourage them to do a few pages of phonics and math throughout the trip.

Snacks can be a good distraction and special road trip reward. I try to buy special snacks that we don’t usually have, while also bringing snacks that are healthy, aren’t too loaded with sugar, and aren’t too messy.

For younger children, I rotate through several of their favorite toys and books, but this is by far the best road trip toy I have found for my babies and toddlers: the Manhattan Skwish. It is amazing, trust me.
Obviously, pulling off a successful technology-free road trip with several young children takes a bit of extra planning and packing, but I think it’s worth it. My husband might joke about how much extra stuff I bring in the car to entertain and educate the children on our trip, but I’d prefer that to the mind-numbing hum of electronics in the car any day.

What are some of your road trip essentials for children?