The joyful Catholic Home and other thoughts I’m pondering these days

Do you know Parenting with Grace by Greg Popcak? I absolutely love this book and I think it is very inspiring for thriving families! Reading this wonderful book and pondering the thoughts of the authors I felt I wanted to share what I have learned lately.

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Popcak connects the Theology of the Body with his parenting concept which was surprising to me at first, but turns out to be not only intriguing but convincing and powerful all at once. To Pope John Paul II self-donative love is the core of every human relationship – be it marriage, friendship or the relationship we have with our children.

Living self-donative love will result in so many wonderful things

Christ is the one who modeled self-donative love to us. From him we can learn how to love our neighbor, spouse and children. As Christ models self-donative love to us, we model the same to our kids and they will imitate us. They will learn from us. They will internalize it. Self-donative love will be natural for our kids and it will be the way they treat others and themselves.

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Living in a family that lives self-donative love will ultimately result in a joyful home. And that is what we all want, don’t we? But in order to get something (the joyful home) we have to give something (ourselves). That is the secret.

Will a joyful home always be joyful?

No, it won’t. We all are human beings, we’re not perfect and we don’t need to be. Attachment Parenting is not about perfectionism or eternal happiness. That’s not going to happen. Attachment Parenting is about a secure bond between parents and children and this bond will result in a solid foundation of the family.

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That way a family can brave stormy times. And that’s what a joyful Catholic home is. A joyful home is not home that is always happy, always all smiles, flawless. A joyful Catholic home is real. There will be bumps in the road, there will be hard times. A joyful Catholic home is a solid foundation that can help every family member to cope with these times. A joyful Catholic home is a home with a certain atmosphere. The atmosphere of self-donative love…

How to start a minimalist-zero-waste-need-oriented-unschooling-catholic lifestyle as a family

First of all: What do you think about the headline? It’s quite impressive, isn’t it? And what on earth is a minimalist-zero-waste-need-oriented-unschooling-catholic lifestyle?

Well, let me explain.

Actually this kind of lifestyle is exactly what we chose for us as a family. Sometimes I feel it’s kind of unique and I think it shouldn’t be so that’s why I’m sharing our thoughts and our philosophy here. And I also share what you can do to start something similar.

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Anyhow, why would someone choose something like that after all?

Since we’re a Catholic family our faith means a lot to us and we’re eager to live a faith-based life. And that’s where you can start because actually that’s where everything started for us.

What does it mean to live a Catholic life? Obviously there is a lot of personal and family prayer, Church time, Bible reading, pondering, celebrating and getting together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Being a Catholic requires you to ask for God’s will and his plan for your life. And that’s what we do – and God answers. He always does. Not always the way we want him to, though. He answers our everyday questions and he also answers the big questions. And you know what he told us?

And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

~ Matthew 25:40

So where does that lead us?

It made us ponder the consumerist lifestyle that we mostly have in our Western culture. It made us think about the side effects that are created by it: Substandard labor conditions, pollution, species extinction, mountains of trash, misery.

“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

~ Matthew 6:24

God always called us to humility – not just for the sake of ourselves, also for the sake of others. Think of those who are sewing our clothes, think of child labor, think of God’s beautiful creation that is destroyed – by our greed basically. God doesn’t want that, that’s why he called us to humility.

Knowing that we started to refuse consumerism, we started to try to live a “zero-waste-lifestyle” – and we started to raise our kids in a need-oriented unschooling way (remember MT 25:40?).

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So what can you do to start?

Well, you want to take it one step at a time. Noah didn’t build the arch in just one day, right? You have plenty of time ahead of you so you can change the way you live. So here’s my top ten:

  1. A good starting point is to ask yourself “Do I really need this?” – because often you will honestly say “No!” Then don’t get it! You don’t need what you don’t need. Simple as that.
  2. If you do need something than there’s another helpful question to ask: “Do I need this to be new?” You can buy so  many things used and they are still good! Search for thrift stores or try to find the things you need online.
  3. Many of us own just so many things. You can go through your things and ask yourself: “Do I really use this?” If not: give it away, donate it, bring it to a thrift store, sell it on the internet.
  4. If you do need something new double-check the way it is produced. Where is it produced? Does the company it is produced for apply certain standards? You may want to support the Fair Wear Foundation.
  5. There is also a lot you can do in terms of food: Opt for organic fresh food. That means vegetables and fruits in the first place. Make sure they are not wrapped in plastic. That IS difficult, I know. Maybe you can get vegetables and fruits from a local farm? Or a food coop? Or something like that? If that’s not possible you will most definitely find some fresh food in the supermarket that is not wrapped – but maybe you’ll have to really make an effort. I think it’s worth it, though.
  6. Try to buy vegetables and fruits that is produced in the area where you live – opt for apples from your neighborhood instead of papaya from kenya e.g. Avoid long hauls!
  7. Eat less meat and other animal products!
  8. Start DIY. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot cheaper than buying everything new and you avoid products that are produced in a bad way (plus things you made yourself aren’t wrapped in plastic!)
  9. In terms of unschooling: Well, there actually is not real start – it just happens naturally. Unschooling is natural learning. Unschooling happens by the way – intrisically. You don’t really have to do much. What you should do is talk with your kids, be a part of their lives, ask them what they are busy with, ask them how you can support them – show interest in them. Try to really meet their needs.
  10. Speaking of needs: Need-oriented parenting isn’t hard, either. Observe your kids, communicate with them, take them seriously, value them – and set your limits.

What do you think? Tell me how you feel!

Living a minimalist life as a family – and why that is something worth considering

This is a very special day for me because I want to share some ideas with you  that I’m very excited about: Minimalism.

Have you heard about Minimalism?

In case you haven’t I’m more than glad to give you a short introduction. Minimalism is a highly idealistic philosophy and a way of life that focuses on living a kind of essentialistic life.

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I know, that is very theoretical and I’m going to show what it means to live a minimalist life in practice and why that might be something worth considering in just a minute. But first I want to tell you why minimalism sparks me so much and why I think it is a deeply Christian way of living.

Do you know the saying “less is more”? I guess you do and if you do you also know Minimalism – because that is what minimalism is all about: owning less, consuming less, polluting less, harming less. Minimalism is all about focusing on what really matters and not getting bogged down in details.

So what does really matter to you?

Growing into a Minimalist lifestyle actually requires two things in the first place: Finding our what really matters and reducing things. Minimalists often refer to the “5 R’s”:

  • refuse
  • reduce
  • reuse (+repair)
  • recycle
  • rot

Those are actually not only the 5 R’s of Minimalism but also the principles of Zero Waste – but I will come to that later. So what am I trying to tell you here?

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We often get bogged down in details – simply because we own too much, we consume too much and we want too much. We kind of lose track of what really matters, what really is important and essential because we are so distracted. Other than that we cause pollution and harm others with these kinds of lifestyle choices.

Do you remember what Jesus says in Matthew 6?

No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

~ Matthew 6:24

This is Minimalism. Consumerism doesn’t only cause pollution and harm other people due to awful labor conditions in many countries – it also distracts us from what really matters: God and his message to us – the Good News.

Minimalism can do so much for us, for our neighbors and the entire planet. It can help us grow as a person, it can help us grow in faith, compassion, responsibility and love and it can help cure the planet.

I’m very excited about these ideas and how Minimalism can look like in practice. So be prepared for a whole bunch of articles about Minimalism and its benefits! How do you feel about that?

Idealism and parenting

I’ve always been an idealist. I’ve always been called a do-gooder and a goody two-shoes. And you know what? I agree.

I think being idealistic is a wonderful virtue. And I think there is a dramatic lack of idealism in our society. Being idealistic doesn’t mean to be naive. I know my ideals will never come true – but that doesn’t stop me from striving for them.

The way is the goal – remember?

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When I first became a mother people laughed at me because of my idealistic parenting values. But I still stick to them. I know I will never be a perfect mother, or a perfect wife or a perfect Catholic – that’s not the point. The point is that I’m confident that I will learn and grow so much along the way that I will benefit from that. More than that: Others will benefit from my ideals, too.

I am pretty confident that my children will not only benefit but also learn from my idealism. I strive to teach them that it’s a good thing to treat others well, to act responsibly, to be eco-conscious and to honor God. I want to teach them that it is worth striving for ideals.

How do you feel about idealism?

A Weekend in pictures – May 28th/29th 2016

We spent a lovely and lazy weekend at home – which was very nice. Lots of drawing, singing, playing and doing nothing at all. That maybe is why I hardly took any pictures – but at least there are some snapshots that I’d love to share.

Let’s see:

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Breakfast time! We just love our homemade bread, that really is better than any bread we tried before. And it’s so simple and cheap, too!

Besides: “Flour” was one of our toddler’s first words…

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I have been watching these buds for days – yearning for the first blossoms.

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So this morning I was so thrilled to see the first one of them! And don’t you just love those?

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Our home-grown parsley, however, doesn’t look so good after all…

Anyways, what else have we done on this lovely lazy weekend?

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Of course we had very simple yet delicious meals that we enjoyed together…

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… somehow this goat appeared to be our special guest. I think I know who invited her…

IMG_20160529_200252… and we shared some beautiful creative moments. Our toddler loves bears.

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The most precious moment, however, (that I don’t have a picture of, though) was in church when our toddler insisted on blessing the whole family with holy water…

How was your weekend?

 

Why I consider Unschooling as deeply Christian

Just last week I pointed out what Unschooling is all about. This week I want to discuss why I consider unschooling as deeply Christian.

Yes, that’s right, I think unschooling is a Christian thing to do!

How is that? you might ask.

Well, let me point that out to you: As parents we are rewarded with the most precious gift you can get – our children. They are given to us by God – and they are given to us in trust. They are created in the image of God, not in our own image or in the image of society or culture.

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Our children are not unfinished beings who have to be shaped and finished by us in order to fit in. They are little persons who we are fortunate to get to know and who we can learn from. They will also learn from us and they will be shaped by us just as we will be shaped by them – but that’s not the point. The point is we can learn learn together, grow together, draw closer to God together.

So what’s our job as parents, really? Do we have to shape them – for society, workplace, culture? God? Or will it suffice to model our values to them? Will God do the rest? Do we trust him enough to let him do the rest?

Don’t get me wrong here: I’m not saying every Christian family has to unschool their children. And I’m also most definitely not promoting any kind of permissive parenting style!

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All I’m saying is that God gave us our children in trust – so we should trust our children and trust God and model that trust in our families. A beautiful way to do that is a need-oriented unschooling parenting style. It’s not the only possible way and it’s not the answer to all questions but it’s a great path you can choose for your family in order to honor God’s trust in you as parents.

 

Need-oriented parenting – a Catholic Approach

and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

~ Matthew 18:3

There is a lot you can read about need-oriented or Attachment Parenting in the media or on the internet – but one question you will hardly find to be answered:

Is there any Catholic Approach to those need-oriented ideas?

A few websites do offer a Catholic Attachment Parenting Approach, e.g. the Catholic Attachment Parenting Corner, Intentional Catholic Parenting or Simply Charlotte Mason. Mostly Attachment Parenting is a secular philosophy of education, though.

How so?

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Attachment Parenting is all about freedom, need-orientation, respect and about being loving, caring and understanding with each other as a family. Somehow, these ideas seem to be more popular in secular circles – maybe because they can be considered very liberal.

But let’s see, does Attachment Parenting require a secular and/or liberal worldview?

Not really. There is nothing wrong with living social-conservative Catholic values – it’s just an unconventional Approach: You don’t teach your values by indoctrination, you simply live by them. So you’re creating kind of an observational learning experience for your child.

Besides, freedom, need-orientation, respect and being loving, caring and understanding with each other are Catholic values, too, right?

Let’s talk about the Bible verse quoted above: Jesus tells us we should become like children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. He truly appreciates children! So how could we not treat children according to those beautiful Attachment Parenting ideas as we strive for loving our children just as much as Jesus does?