Tag Archives: parenting

When the soldier is abandoned

In a recent meditation on Christ’s Passion, it became wrenchingly clear that His greatest torments weren’t the excruciating injuries from punches and thorns, His lacerating shoulder wound from the gash of the cross, torso tears from flagellation, or iron spikes plunged through His palms. His greatest sadness was the abandonment and betrayal by those to whom He was closest. He was fighting for their good, and was deserted in turn.

This renders a good soldier’s mission almost insurmountable.

Christ was left alone by 11 of His 12 apostles (two by direct betrayal), and all extended family and home towners except His mother and a few holy women. His mother’s support during His heartbreaking Passion must have been of great comfort to Him. Imagine His relief at seeing her face as He shouldered the crushing cross, exhausted and lampooned. A parent’s affirmation can sustain an inconceivable journey.

We are soldiers on the same mission. What He asks of us, in belief and through our life’s example, is frequently derided and invalidated, not just by nonbelievers – which we’d expect – but by family and friends, colleagues, even other Catholics.

How does it play out? Perhaps like this.

A parish school allows parents to preview an upcoming health presentation for fourth graders, which will include explicit sexual topics. When parents view the production, it’s clear that facets will compromise the innocence of kids; only one or two parents object. The rest go along for fear of appearing paranoid. The objectors are told by teachers they’re “doing their children a disservice,” and kids will be ostracized by classmates if they don’t attend. What’s really at stake – fitting in or safeguarding kids’ purity?

Or this.

In launching a product campaign, a corporate communications team meets with a TV network it hopes to include in its promotions – for possible commercials, sponsorships, and special events.

The network instead puts the client-company on the defensive by insisting the content of the ads and events include language pertinent to LGBT audiences and programming. Without such affirmative language, there will be no deal. The corporation’s Catholic CEO faces a big decision, which will invite flak either way.

Though the century is different, it’s really the same battle. At the end of the day, are we standing with Christ, or taking flight? There’s one Truth – at home, in our parishes, and in business. If we know what it is and deny it or deem it irrelevant, we’re abandoning Christ all over again.

But the good soldier, when he holds to Truth and perseveres through mutating battle, might be ditched by those who can’t tolerate his style. Others may still ‘Kiss Christ’ and profess their love for Him. But it takes graced fortitude, abiding love for Our Savior, and detachment from human reward to engage heroically on His behalf as authentic Catholics, come what may – whether in risk of relationships, profit, or life itself.

The 14th-century Crusade-fighting French knight, Geoffroi de Charny, proclaimed, “No one can excuse himself in bearing arms in a just cause, whether for his lord or for his lineage, or for himself, or for the Holy Church.”

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Restoring decorum

Movies from the first half of the 20th century instill an awe for bygone norms — people walking the streets smartly dressed and neatly groomed, greeting others cordially, and exhibiting instinctive social and moral decency. Elders and authorities were honored, children (even as adults) respectful when questioned or corrected — even if unjustly. Okay, so they’re movies, but newsreels from that era show much of the same.

What a radical difference a century makes.

Decorum has taken a nosedive, and the repercussions are toxic. “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world,” Pope St. John Paul II said in 1986.

At a holiday party about 10 years ago, a guest asked her collegiate daughter a question about school, encouraging her to tell the others how her studies were progressing. Whoops, sinkhole. The girl took a wild turn, slewing vulgarity and curses at her mother for not keeping enough money in the kid’s bank account. Now the “young lady” had the full party’s attention. The mother — not known for reticence — fell silent, feigning normalcy. Then she promised to deposit money the next day. The girl stormed out, slamming the door.


It was like a scene from The Bad Seed. Only worse.

Decorum, ‘close cousin’ to modesty, is an integral virtue for life, and has to be instilled early in the family. Without it, kids will emerge ‘undressed’ for what life inevitably unveils … sparking embarrassing and obscene tirades, early failure, depression, rebellion, depravity, and other destructive act-outs.

In the most difficult moments, a person’s true essence becomes apparent. It’s hard to be temperate, rational, and self-regulated in midst of uncertainty, disappointment, or rejection. But it’s possible with innate discipline and spiritual muscle. It’s what Christ meant when He said “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart” (Mat 11:29)— that He could calmly withstand battering humiliation that might defeat even the most stalwart, but He would endure it with grace and fortitude, honoring His Father’s will. We see something similar in certain business situations — when successful executives remain cheerful and circumspect amid staff, investor or media hostility, exposition of personal crises, or publicized downturns. It sets a standard for subordinates.

But parents tolerating open interrogation from their kids, along with vulgarity and profanity, set themselves and their kids up for problems. Some senior professionals — including close friends — who wouldn’t stomach disrespect from their staffs, swallow it from their kids. “I gave my son everything,” one confided. “After he graduated, I gave him a job at my firm. He arrives late, complains, and makes excuses. I took him to lunch to discuss it, and instead he rebuked me in areas where he thinks I fall short as his father.”

If our children are our legacy, investing in their character and propriety will outrank their future stature or wealth. He who disciplines his son will profit by him … and will make his enemies envious. …The father may die, and yet he is not dead, for he has left behind one like himself (Sir 30: 2-4).

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Parenting a child with depression

Depression is on the rise in American teens and young adults. Adolescent girls seem most vulnerable, per research published in the Journal of Pediatrics. Data collected between 2005-2014, by Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, concluded that “the 12-month prevalence of major depressive episodes in adolescents increased from 8.7% to 11.3%.” The reasons remain under discussion. However, cyberbullying is hypothesized to be a trigger, particularly for girls.

Susan Locke

Susan Locke

How can parents support their child or adolescent suffering from depression? Here are some general guidelines:

Observe your child’s behavior for changes. Children with depression may demonstrate low mood, irritability, anger, fear or anxiety, mood swings, disruptive or risk-taking behavior, disobedience/ defiance/ illegal behavior, isolation, lack of self-care/ hygiene, decreased interest in previously enjoyable activities, decreased energy, increased or decreased sleep, increased or decreased appetite, and changes in friendships or family relationships. Some children turn to drugs or alcohol. Others turn to the internet for support or socialization. School performance may deteriorate, or attendance may decrease due to physical complaints or blatant truancy. Some children engage in self-harming behaviors or talk of death and dying.

Engage your child in daily conversation or other activities to open communication. Gently ask questions about your child’s change in mood, daily life/issues. Find ways for your child to communicate his or her feelings.

If your child expresses suicidal thoughts or wishes, please take him or her to the local emergency room for further evaluation.

Talk to your pediatrician or family doctor about your child’s mood or changes in behavior. They can arrange timely assistance for your child and provide you with qualified mental health professionals.

Monitor and limit phone, computer and electronics time. Watch internet history, texting, and social media. Kids often scout in the wrong places and meet the wrong people.

Ascertain healthy and consistent sleep schedules. Children and teens need about 8-10 hours of sleep per night. A regular presleep routine that does not include electronics, along with a scheduled bedtime/wake-up time encourage healthy sleep habits.

Encourage healthy eating habits. Observe behaviors at meals, such as restricting calories,  or leaving the table to go to the restroom and hiding/throwing food away. Watch for weight loss, excessive exercising, or obsessive concerns with body image that may indicate an eating disorder.

Be consistent and firm with limit-setting. Maintain the same or even slightly more stringent rules with your child to maintain structure. Treat all children in the family equally. Be aware of your child’s whereabouts and safety at all times.

Safety-proof your home. Lock up all medications, alcohol and OTC medications. Secure anything that could be used as a weapon, particularly firearms.

Ensure that you are taking care of your own well-being and mental health. Depression can run in families. Resist the urge to tell your child that you know how they must feel or that you were once, or are currently, depressed. Practice listening attentively and reassuring your child that you will get them whatever help is needed. Be sure to get help for yourself as well.

Identifying child and adolescent depression and dealing with it can be overwhelming. The key is to reach out for assistance and allow others to provide their support and expertise, so that a team approach can be utilized to its fullest.

By Jennifer L. Shoenfelt, MD
Board Certified Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist
Lindner Center of HOPE (a partner to Healthnetwork Foundation)

SUSAN LOCKE is Healthnetwork Foundation’s medical director.
HEALTHNETWORK is a Legatus membership benefit, a healthcare “concierge service” that provides members and their families access to some of the most respected hospitals in the world. One Call Starts It All: (866) 968-2467 or (440) 893-0830. Email: help@healthnetworkfoundation.org

HEALTHNETWORK FOUNDATION is a non-profit whose mission is to improve medicine for all by connecting CEOs with leading hospitals and their doctors to provide the best access to world-class care and increase philanthropic funding for medical research.

Fighting Mad

Dr. Ray Guarendi helps parents find solution for conquering anger in their kids . . .

GuarendiFighting Mad
Dr. Ray Guarendi
Servant Books, 2014
160 pages, $15.99 paperback

How do you deal with anger and its emotional buddies? In his new book, subtitled Practical Solutions for Conquering Anger, Guarendi cuts through the psychobabble to present a realistic picture of anger and other emotional issues, and then offers practical solutions for overcoming them.

The first chapters provide a basic understanding of anger and clear up common misconceptions. Each subsequent chapter focuses on a different aspect of anger. Most of the time anger and its causes are well within our control — and conquering those angry impulses are in our control, too.

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