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Theology of the Body Congress: Hope for a Broken World

 

theology of the body congress

There is no denying that our world is broken. We only have to turn on the television or read the news online or in print to know that our world is hurting. As a result of this brokenness, we see our society seeking to change what it means to be a family. As concerned parents we have to wonder how we can prepare our families to remain faithful to God’s vision and hope for the family.

Between 1979 and 1984 St. Pope John Paul II began giving Wednesday audiences known as “Theology of the Body”. In his talks he spoke of the beauty and dignity of the human body. He reminded the Church that each person was made in the image and likeness of God and that the human body therefore had a specific meaning- it made visible an invisible reality. Instead of being made simply for personal pleasure or gain, the body was capable of answering fundamental questions about life but also was able to give us the means to love others in the way that God loves us. It is through the God-given gift of our human bodies, made both male and female, that we are able to find true happiness and fulfillment.

TOB for every bodyTheology of the Body is not simply for married couples or for those wishing to teach their teens how to stay chaste. These of course are wonderful reasons to study Theology of the Body, but TOB is made for all people. It is for those who are single, those who are married, for the anxious teen, the celibate priest or religious, for those who are in relationships, those who wish to instruct others, and most importantly it is for families. TOB reaches into each and every facet of our lives and helps to educate us all on the beauty and the sacredness of the human body.

This coming September in Southern California The Theology of the Body Institute will host a Congress to bring St. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body to all those who wish to discover the joy and freedom that comes from understanding the sacred gift of the human body.

The Institute’s mission reads, “…the 2016 TOB Congress will propose a powerful vision of sexual complementarity that reaches the core of what it means to be human, made in the image of the God Who truly is a Family – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Through presentations from experts in the field of TOB, participants will encounter God’s plan for fruitful, self-giving love, which lies at the very heart of what the family is meant be, as well as ways of ministering to the human family on the spiritual, emotional, intellectual and sociological level.”

TOB

The three day Congress will be led by over 30 powerhouse Theology of the Body experts and enthusiasts including Greg and Julie Alexander, Christopher West, Jason Evert, Dr. Pia De Solenni, Bill Donaghy, Dr. Angela Franks, Matt Fradd, Fr. Sean Kilcawley, Sr. Regina Marie Gorman, O.C.D., as well as many more amazing men and women dedicated to sharing the joy and freedom that comes from understanding God’s intent for the human body.

Through keynote speakers, break-out sessions, and panel discussions Congress goers will have the opportunity to hear how TOB relates to numerous topics that affect our lives- pornography, teenage sexuality, infertility, same sex attraction, the struggles of married life, the struggles of family life, teens in a digital age, TOB for singles, TOB for feminists, divorce, and many other issues.

In the coming weeks here at Catholic Sistas we will be featuring interviews with a few of the keynote speakers from the Congress. We are honored to be able to share with our readers the insights these amazing individuals have gained through study, through prayer, and through their everyday lives. Not only have they dedicated their lives to learning about the sacredness and beauty of the human body and how it relates to love of self, love of others, and most importantly love of God, but they also seek to live their lives embracing these tenets as well.

We hope that you will be inspired by their stories and encouraged by their advice. We hope that they will bring hope to you in a time where hope often seems to be lacking.

 

male and femaleOur human bodies are sacred and wonderful. They are fearfully and wonderfully made. They can lead us into a fuller and deeper relationship with not only one another but ultimately with God. It is through our humanity that we can come to know God. Theology of the Body gives us the insights and the tools we need to grow closer to one another and to our Father.

If you are interested in attending the Theology of the Body Congress in Ontario, CA from September 23-25, 2016, please check out the TOB Congress website here. You can read about their mission, you can view the complete lineup of speakers and their topics, and you can register for the Congress.

If you are interested in learning more about the Theology of the Body but can’t attend the Congress, check out the Theology of the Body Institute website here. “The Theology of the Body Institute spreads the life-giving message of Theology of the Body through graduate level courses, on-site speaker programs and clergy enrichment training. Theology of the Body Institue seeks to penetrate and permeate the culture with a vision of true sexuality that appeals to the deepest yearnings of the human heart for love and union.”

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for interviews with some of these amazing speakers! I promise you will not only learn about the importance of the Theology of the Body in all aspects of your life but you will also be inspired and entertained!

tob pope john paul II

 

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Ink Slingers It Worked For Me Misty Parenting Vocations

It Worked for Us: Zone Cleaning for Teens

Our downstairs bathroom before zone cleaning.
Our downstairs bathroom before zone cleaning. (I took this to jokingly guilt my husband while he was on a mini-vacation.)

I’ll never forget the day an old friend told me she still cleans her 14-year-old daughter’s room, does her laundry, and even makes her lunches for school. She related this to me in the midst of a conversation lamenting that her daughter was a “spoiled, disrespectful brat” (her words) who takes her mother’s sacrifices for granted. She marveled that my school-aged children seemed more competent than her teenager.

I’ve noticed that many modern parents have the idea that their children will magically transform from helpless, dependent infants to self-sufficient adults at age 18 with no guidance from them. But realistically, our children need to be trained in self-discipline from the beginning and gradually given more and more responsibility for themselves and the household as they get older.

Our rule is: If they can toddle, they can contribute to keeping our home orderly. Even two-year-olds can pick up toys, hand you silverware out of the dishwasher, and carry their clothes to their drawers. By the time they’re adolescents, then, most kids should have mastered more complex, individual chores such as loading the dishwasher and cleaning a load of laundry from start to finish. Teens should know how to take care of pets and keep their rooms decent. (Not perfect, but decent–at least most of the time.) They should be intimately familiar with the family vacuum cleaner and mop. 

But there’s one more transition period that many parents forget about and that’s moving from individual tasks to cleaning whole areas. Because as every mom knows, cleaning a home efficiently and well isn’t just about what and how you clean, but in what order you clean things, too. You don’t sweep floors and THEN wipe down counters, for instance. You don’t clean out the sink and THEN load the dishwasher. Keeping up on laundry requires at least a load a day, with prompt swapping out of the loads between washer and dryer. And there’s no point to even doing laundry if it’s just going to sit in the baskets all week to wrinkle (eventually ending up back in the dirty clothes bin because half the basket has been strewn on the floor as family members rifle through the basket for clean items…ask me how I know this).

Our three oldest kids are 11, 12, and 14–prime ages to start being responsible not just for a handful of tasks, but for a whole zone of the house. I broke our home down into four main zones: 1) Living room and dining room, 2) Kitchen, 3) Laundry room/pets, and 4) Bathrooms/hallways/stairs. For one whole week, each child is responsible for one zone and then they switch. (I take the remaining zone.) The first day they were responsible for the zone, I sat down with them and had them read the detailed cleaning list I’d prepared for each area (click on the link to see our list):

  1. Living room and dining room
  2. Kitchen
  3. Laundry room/pets
  4. Bathrooms/hallways/stairs

 I explained why the order is important and how following the order would help them do a better job and get the job done faster. In addition to their daily tasks, they have one additional task that’s to be done each day, such as vacuuming the stairs or buffing the stainless steel fridge. This ensures that certain tasks get done at least once a week. It takes about 45 minutes each day to complete their zone cleaning.

IMAG1931
Our downstairs bathroom today. (And no, I did NOT clean it ahead of time–this is zone cleaning, baby!)

The advantages of switching to zone cleaning for the kids was apparent right away. With three kids each doing a handful of different chores each day, it was getting to be a nightmare for me to keep up with whether their chores were completed. (No doubt they took advantage of that to get out of a chore here and there, too.) And half the time, I couldn’t remember WHO was responsible and didn’t feel like wrangling with them, so it didn’t get done. Now, it just takes a cursory view to know whether someone has done their zone for the day.

The kids also have become very territorial about their assigned areas. I no longer have to yell at anyone to pick their clothes up off the bathroom floor after their shower because the child in charge of the bathrooms that week will do it for me. My children also take obvious pride in being able to point to an entire room that they’ve cleaned, too; there’s an ownership that simply wasn’t there when they were just responsible for the dishwasher or taking out the trash.

Overall, the house stays tidier. And there’s less bickering over chores; I’m no longer dealing with complaints that “I had to empty the dishwasher twice yesterday after the party!” or “It’s not my day to take out the trash!” The expectations are crystal clear now.  

Of course, it’s not a perfect system. They are still kids and that means they do their best to slack; I have to prompt and follow up each day to ensure they’re getting their work done. They still forget what it was like to have a sibling trash their zone after it was just cleaned and throw their crap everywhere from time to time. The process of teaching them to clean up after themselves (ostensibly to be considerate of the person responsible for that room)…well, that’s still a work in progress. 

But aren’t we all? 

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Charla

On being a Catholic school teacher

classI have been in Catholic education since 1996– actually since 1977, when I started first grade at St. Mary’s Catholic School and continued to graduate from high school and then back again in graduate school. I taught elementary school one year – first grade: I can teach anything to anyone now, middle school for one year– sixth through eighth: I shaved years off Purgatory, and the remainder of my time has been spent teaching high school. I definitely found my fit and I feel blessed with the students with whom I have been entrusted.  The highlight of my job is my students, and I love teaching literature, so I feel I have been even further blessed. There are great things about teaching on a Catholic school and these far outweigh the difficulties.

The best things about my job are:

  • I get to express my Faith openly. I pray with my students and going to work involves Mass and Adoration. What could be better?
  • My students are well-mannered, mostly, and kind and really want to learn. They have been raised with values, mostly, and I get to not only teach them, but I get to love them too.

However, there are many trials that we Catholic school teachers face, and I think it is important for others to understand these challenges:

PARENTS

  • I am one, so I fully understand the position. Parents are generally cooperative and supportive, but there are those few that make it difficult. The hyper-vigilant, helicopter parent is always going to exist and as long as you have their child’s best interests at heart, those parents will support you. The “more Catholic than the Pope” parents pose a challenge.  I teach everything from a faithful Catholic perspective, even the questionable stuff; I find it my duty to help my students navigate the waters of life and anything they might encounter along the way armed with morality. These teens are not sheltered and they need to know how to deal with the harsh amorality of the world using their Faith.
  • A frustration also lies in the parents who do not reinforce the Catholic Faith we are teaching.  They do not facilitate or encourage their children to go to Mass on Sundays, nor do they attend Mass regularly themselves.  We are expected to fully catechize these students with no support at home.  There are those parents who outright defy what we are trying to get across to the students.  I had a graduate tell me her mom said, “Well, I don’t really believe all that stuff.  It was a good education for you and a nice environment.” This discussion was all in the context of her mother encouraging her to abort her unborn child at the age of nineteen, which sadly she did. There are also those parents who profess Evangelicalism and do not take their kids to Mass, but rather they attend “praise and worship services” where they hear rock bands and play at the skate park at their church instead of receiving the Sacraments.  These are difficult pills to swallow for someone who is trying her very best to convey the Truth to those in her care.

SOCIETY

  • These students nowadays so belong to the world instead of to God. Issues such as same sex relationships, premarital sex, and divorce, among others, affect these students who are innately loving and accepting of people. Society has convinced them that in order to love people, they must accept their sinful behavior. If they do not condone or encourage “happiness” for others they feel badly.  It is a difficult thing to comprehend the Spiritual Works of Mercy.  The tangible, concrete Corporal Works make sense to them and they perform these willingly with a joyful heart.  The Spiritual are most perplexing because they involve taking a moral stand that they do not have the courage to do, up against a society that tells them not to be “haters.” As well, these kids have people in their lives, whom they love, whose lives or behavior do not reflect Catholic moral teaching.  This makes it extra difficult and they are internally conflicted.

The other challenges inherent of the teaching profession fade in comparison to the benefits of being a teacher at a school that encourages community and service and goodness.  I truly feel God is at the center of everything I do.  It is also a great responsibility.  I must strive to be extra moral and maintain a virtuous lifestyle.  Eyes are always watching and taking in my example.

csI love Catholic education; that is why I have devoted my life to this vocation.  I truly believe God has called me to strive to be not “of this world, but in this world” in this way. I am afforded an opportunity to strive for holiness every day.

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Allen Domestic Church Perspective from the Head

Dating with Purpose

What is the Goal of Dating?

Most of us have grown up with dating being a part of our lives or a part of the lives of people we know and love.  When we think of dating many may consider it to be an integral part of finding a spouse and for the most part that is what it used to be and perhaps our society has lost sight of that end goal in the past 20 years.  Today it seems that dating has evolved into a purely recreational activity with no clear goal in mind.  Maybe it could best be described as a game that two people play where they are both trying to figure out what the other person’s goals for the relationship are.  I propose that dating needs an overhaul, a redirection of sorts back to the goal that each young Christian should be aiming for, the discovery of their vocation.

What’s Wrong with Dating?

So why mess with the cultural norm of dating? It’s all fun and games, it is a necessary rite of passage, is the normal way to find your spouse and we all did it when we were young and we turned out just fine, right?  Well, I am not much for quoting studies, but currently about 50% of marriages end in divorce, and many couples today are not even opting to enter a marriage.  I have also observed that people who are in a dating relationship seem to be very happy at first, but then relationship drama sets in with ups and downs, friends gossiping, suspicion about fidelity and finally someone ends the relationship leaving the other person feeling rejected. Dating has become less of a search for marriage and more of a game played where there are winners and losers.  Too often it is more about how much you can get for yourself before getting hurt than what is best for all parties involved.  Avery Utz, a high school senior in Round Rock, TX, said the following, “I have found that relationships during high school are very trivial, unromantic and seemingly pointless, as in they have no goal. Kids just date to date, using it as a social status and not realizing the real purpose.”

What we need is a return to the original purpose of dating, therefore I am issuing a call to all parents to assist our youth in taking a more mature approach to finding their spouse.  There are few more important tasks that we can undertake as parents.  Our child is looking not only for their future spouse, but a new member of our family, and the mother or father of our grandchildren.  While many of you might be thinking that your youth may not want your help with such a personal part of their life, this is simply not true in our experience.  Our teenage son and daughters have each sought our advice and assistance in navigating the complex waters of relationships. As our children grow older, entering into the teenage years, they have a natural desire to find someone to love and someone to love them back, unfortunately our societal structures have delayed the age of marriage to much later in life, and so our teenagers need to exercise the cardinal virtue of temperance and the secular virtue of patience.

What are the Benefits of Dating with Purpose?

The benefits of Dating with Purpose is that you get to approach potentially the most important relationship of your life with honesty, clarity, respect and maturity.  Imagine if you will, a relationship built on friendship where the two people approach each other without ulterior motives.  Each person views the other with all the dignity that comes with being made in the image of God.  They approach each other not for what the other person can do for them, but for what they can do to assist each other in achieving the plan God has for their lives.  That is a very mature way to approach a relationship, and not something that is seen very often in our society, but it is sorely needed.  When most movies, TV shows, and music portray love as purely based on feelings and what the other person can do for me, a mature selfless love is needed in order to transform our society into the City of God.  It is not impossible, in fact, it is essential to our happiness and success in relationships. Even if a relationship doesn’t end up in marriage, it should help both individuals grow closer to God and to transform themselves into that image of God in which we are all made.

The first phase of any relationship is one that is purely based on a Christian friendship.  One with a guarded emotional attachment and without any sort of romantic intimacy.  This initial phase of the relationship is critical to setting a solid foundation.  I have seen too many relationships that skipped this phase and jumped straight into heavy emotional attachment and frequently physical intimacy as well.  When the romantic feelings waned for one person in the relationship, they believe that because the feeling is no longer present that this must not be the “right person” and the romance quickly ends with many hurt feelings. Marriage, the ultimate goal in dating with purpose, is a relationship based on a decision to love for better, for worse, in sickness, in health, for richer, for poorer and thus we will not always feel like we love the other person, but because our relationship is not based solely on the way we feel or what the other person can do for us, we are able to work through those dry times. Dating with purpose is practice for marriage, it is an exercise in self control and true love for another person without expecting anything in return.  On the contrary, dating without purpose is practice for divorce (many failed relationships built on selfishness and a “what have you done for me lately” attitude).

friends
Photo by Victoria Hebert

When Should a Young Person Begin Dating?

One of the traditional teachings of Christianity is to avoid the near occasion of sin.  This makes sense even at the purely secular level, if you have a tendency to fall into a particular sin, you should avoid situations or people who may make it easier for you to commit a transgression.  With this good advice in mind, we now venture into the very practical question of when is it appropriate to begin dating.  I would propose that there is no lower age limit, but once you ponder the following conditions for dating, you will likely set the age a bit higher than most people you know.  To enter into a dating relationship prior to meeting the following conditions would put one or both individuals in the near occasion of sexual sin because of a prolonged dating relationship with marriage being an option at an undetermined time in the future.  Dating with Purpose should be entered into with a realistic timeframe for determining if God is calling the two people to marry each other.  If during this discernment period one party hears God speaking very clearly that this is not the person, that should be discussed openly and honestly with the other individual and perhaps any marriage mentor couples that may be assisting you during this discernment period.

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Photo by Sunday’s Child

Discerning your Vocation

The first condition is that the young person has prayerfully discerned that they are called to the married life.  Obviously, to discern a call to the married life, one must have a firm relationship with the Lord and have a consistent life of prayer and contemplation.  I have heard it said that you should give God first dibbs.  In other words, you should offer yourself to God completely and see if indeed he is calling you to serve him with your whole being as a member of a Religious Community or as a Priest.  This really is a beautiful way to approach your vocation, there is no shame if you discern that God isn’t calling you to be a worker in the vineyard, in fact most people are not called to the consecrated life.  When we enter into this intimate dialog with the Lord, it will only serve to draw us closer to Him and equip us to be better individuals and spouses.  If you discern that God is calling you to the Married life, then you are ready for step two.

Are you Ready to Get Married

Discerning might be the easy part of this process, the next step is to take a mature look at where you are in your life and determine if you are mentally, spiritually and economically ready to get married and provide for your family.  Marriage is a life full of responsibilities, for a majority of teenagers and young adults, they have relied on someone else to provide for life’s necessities and at some point, they will need to take over that responsibility for themselves.  No one else can really judge this for them, there are many people from whom they may seek advice, but in the end this is a very personal decision.  It is beyond the scope of this article to delve into the decision tree involved in deciding if someone is ready to leave the nest and be self sufficient.

Finding the Right Person

After you have discerned that you are called to the noble vocation of marriage and you are pretty sure that you are ready to undertake this high calling in the immediate future, what now?  You must have developed a friendship with a member of the opposite sex (I did say this was Christian relationship right?), and there should be a mutual interest in discerning marriage together.  If you don’t have any friends that you would consider marrying or would consider marrying you, then don’t stress over it and double down in your prayer life and perhaps get involved in some different social activities that may help you to find the person God has picked out for you and perhaps revisit the religious life and see if you missed something in your initial discernment, when it comes to discernment, no one is perfect.  In the end, God has a perfect plan for your life, and you will find true joy and peace when you follow His plan instead of your own.

Blues Dancing
Photo by Samuel Chang

Here are a couple of quotes written by my 16 year old daughter, Victoria Hebert, and a link to a great video about true love.  I believe that our young people desire more than what the culture is offering, they long for authentic love and their hearts are restless until they find it.

“Everyone was made by love, to love and to be loved. It’s a truly beautiful God given desire. We all long for that love. It is important to seek this love in Christ before anyone else. You can never put someone, or something above your relationship with Christ. To love the way He did, is to put others before yourself, that is selfless love.”
“We as humans, all have this tendency to place our trust in others. To truly love someone, is to trust that they won’t hurt you. You should always guard your heart. No man will be worthy of your love until he puts a ring on your finger. You must die to your spouse, every day. Laying down your life for another. That crucifixion like love.”

A CRUCIFIXION TYPE LOVE

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Confessions of The Original Online Junkie: One Does Not Simply Let Teens Play on the Internet

If you’ve been following Confessions of The Original Online Junkie series so far,

you know that today’s post was inevitable – teens and the internet.

Oy, where to start?

Grab some Pepto, or some alcohol, maybe both – this is going to be rough.

As parents, we are not only the primary educators of our children,

we are the keeper of their hearts and protector of their souls.

No big, right?

Wrong. Think again.

This is the stuff we will stand before God and plead our case.

Did we do our job adequately or did we fail our children?

Did we attempt to get in the way of them and speeding bullets or

did we think it more important to be their friend, their equal?

Friends, this is what keeps me awake at night. I know full well that these children were gifted to me and my husband by God. They aren’t ours – they are on loan to us, to be rightfully returned to Him at the end of their lives. We want to be able to stand before Him and humbly say I did my best, Father. Have mercy on me, a sinner.

I have the odd and unique honor burden experience of having been the teenager on the internet in the mid-90’s and now being the current parent of a teenager {17 year old girl} and a tween {12 year old boy} with a gaggle in tow at 8G, 5B, 3G, 1B, I hope I can offer some perspective that will help aid you in some decisions concerning your teen, your family, yourself and/or your marriage and social media use.

Are you ready? Let’s rock this!

So, what’s a parent to do these days? In a world that is supersaturated with social media and screen time of one variety or another – not using your smartphone? Can I interest you in a game of MineCraft? Or some television? Netflix? Amazon Prime? Roku? Angry Birds on the iPad, perhaps? Aaaaand circle back to the smartphone.

A few months ago two things happened that prompted me to take a closer look at the issue of teens and social media. One was an article put out by a fellow Catholic momma and Austin Catholic New Media blogger, Kathryn, in which she beautifully addressed tips for parents on teens and social media. I want to expand on this great resource with the hope that more Catholic bloggers of teens will write about their experiences and what worked for them.

  1. Create an atmosphere of respect. Recently I was asked by Catholic author Susie Lloyd what I thought young adults needed most in terms of parental support. Without hesitation, I put together a paragraph and out popped the word respect. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but there it was. The longer I stared at it, the more I realized how other things build upon respect. Communication is also key, but without respect for each other, communication is ineffective. Neither wants to listen to nor cares what the other says without respect. Though this can be seen as a general parenting tip, it helps set the stage for setting boundaries with social media use, and is an ongoing process.
  2. Avoid getting your child a cell phone as long as possible. {note: some families have legitimate reasons for giving their kiddos phones at earlier ages – this point is not directed at personal family choices, but intended to give broad information for parents to discern as needed} I think it would surprise people to know that for many practical reasons, we avoided getting our oldest a cell phone until she turned 16 last year. Ask me how many Christmas lists we got that included a Nintendo DS, a cell phone and a laptop. One year the list read completely defeated: I don’t even care if it’s a crappy analog phone. We ultimately held out because it was not a justifiable expense – I still maintain that it’s not justifiable, but she is older and more responsible and the phone gives her opportunities to show that maturity.
  3. 8:00 p.m. If you’re like I was at one time, it can sometimes be hard to be the heavy when it comes to drawing the line in the sand with our teens and social media. How can I possibly expect them to put their devices away when I’m doing what? Oh, yeah. Sitting on the laptop typing away, or Facebooking or texting my husband…we won’t say that he is sitting right next to me when texting. I quickly pushed that irrelevant guilt aside and thought to myself – ok, yes, it does matter that I model the behavior I expect from my kids, but it also can’t be an excuse to their having unlimited access. In our house, about four or five months ago, we implemented a curfew of 8:00 p.m.all devices are to be turned in and are returned the following day after chores and schoolwork are done and delivered with a cheerful attitude. Exceptions to the curfew are made for various events, but overall, it’s a pretty firm rule in our house.
  4. Set a recurring calendar event on your phone for the curfew. I can almost guarantee you won’t be able to remember each evening, so have your gadget remind you – and your teen.
  5. Be connected with your teen on all their social media accounts. This might sound like a hassle because you and I both know you don’t want to be signed up for ALL of their favorite haunts…Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Big Tent, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, Vine, etc…BUT, you really do need to be connected. Or at minimum, get to know how each kind of platform works. Did you know that Instagram has a no porn policy, but with only 15 full-time employees {as of last August}, their ability to monitor 5+ million photos uploaded each DAY is impossible. As parents, we need to know these things and make sure we are doing the monitoring and not putting false trust into these platforms to do their job. Ultimately, it’s our boat to row.
  6. Know your kiddo’s passwords. No, seriously. This is not an invasion of their privacy. Knowing passwords does not mean you break down the virtual doors of their accounts and go snooping around unannounced – unless there is behavior that warrants it. It just creates transparency with the accounts and helps keep kiddos accountable.
  7. Consider off-limits zones and times in your house. No phones welcome at the dinner table, please and thank you. During the school year, I attempt to not work on the blog or check e-mail, etc. during actual homeschool time. It can be a challenge, but it’s one that’s necessary. Try different places and times to see what works well in your house. See this post I wrote on some tips on balancing your time online.
  8. Digital footprint. Teach your teen the importance of prudence in their dealings online, from the pictures they take – or are in- to the kinds of conversations they have on their own accounts as well as others. Make them aware that anyone and everyone can view their conversations, pictures, etc. Don’t rely on your privacy settings to keep your information private. Not sure what’s out there online? Sit down with your teen and Google/Bing/Yahoo them and see what comes up. Knowing is half the battle.
  9. Self worth. Another sit-down worthy talk to have with your teens. Let your teen know that no amount of likes, comments, re-blogs, shares, retweets, even the number of friends, follows, or subscribers {etc.} define who they are. Teens today {shaking fist at the sky and said in grouchy gramps voice!} should know how to detach their interaction online from who God made them. Their ultimate value and worth comes from God alone and is fostered through their relationship with you, their parents. Sound like a broken record if you have to, but tell them in NO uncertain terms that social media and their presence, whether “popular” or not, will ever fulfill them the way Christ’s love can. It sounds hokey, but they need to know this. In fact, we adults could use a dose of this from time to time.
  10. Evangelize! Not just for adults anymore, teens can be amazing witnesses for the Faith. Under your guidance and with your encouragement, you can help them gain the footing they’ll need to later maneuver the secular world on their own. One trend I’ve noticed among my teen’s friends is to add their Confirmation saint name to their Facebook account. That’s one way to get a conversation started! Talk to them about their evangelizing endeavors and talk about what worked, what didn’t. Talk about the importance of maintaining friendships through theological differences. I give you an article I wrote on how not to evangelize and another on how to evangelize. I encourage you to read both.
  11. Stress safety. Don’t be afraid to use shock therapy. In my house, this works. I’ve been known to watch episodes of Hoarders or How Clean is Your House or You Are What You Eat with my kiddos to get conversations going about why it’s important that they clean and eat healthy. It may not work for everyone, but if you think there’s a chance it might, do it. I leave you with this old, but still relevant video on smartphone safety. ::note: this isn’t intended to scare you or your kiddos, but to raise awareness::

HANDOUT

Here is a handout I put together on this very topic and with it, some great resources to further your research.