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…

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When you’re choosing a lifestyle that is illegal – Compulsory School Attendance and Unschooling

Are you an unschooler? Or a homeschooler? And is your government fine with that? Well, lucky you! Not everyone is as lucky as you are. In a lot of countries Home Education is just not possible because of compulsory school attendance. Home Education is considered illegal. A crime. Home Educators are considered criminals.

Like us.

In our country we have compulsory school attendance and Home Educators are harshly prosecuted. You can be fined until you’re financially ruined, children can be taken away, you can loose custody and even go to jail. There is one thing you really need as a Home Educator over here: Guts.

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No, I’m not joking. This is the reality we are facing. Every. Single. Day.

How do we cope with that? Well, our kids are still very young, so they don’t need to go to school. Yet. So we can pass undetected. For now. But what about the future? I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t know. I don’t. And that’s hard.

We have several options that we can choose but none of them really seems to be the right one for us.

Give up the battle before it really began and try to fit in

Option No. 1 is Give up the battle before it really began and try to fit in. We would just go look for a school that would somehow meet our needs and give our kids away to an institution we don’t believe in. Just to fit in. Just to not get into trouble.

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Look for a great school that is need-oriented and as close to unschooling as possible

Option No. 2 is Look for a great school that is need-oriented and as close to unschooling as possible. That, however, is complicated, since there are hardly any schools like that in our country. There are schools like Sudbury schools that have a very need-oriented approach which could be almost considered as unschooling – the thing is, however, they are hardly ever permitted by the government.

Leave the country and go somewhere where you can live according to your beliefs

Option No. 3 is Leave the country and go somewhere where you can live according to your beliefs. That would definitely be a possibility because there are several neighboring countries that allow Home Education. But leaving the country still is a tough decision. You’ll leave everything behind to move to a foreign country and to an unsettled future. It could be a real adventure. It could also be a nightmare.

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Stay and just do it. No Matter what.

Option No. 4 is Stay and just do it. No matter what. Lots of people do that. Regarding the consequences you can face that is a very courageous decision to make, though.

What will we opt for? I really don’t know. For now I stick to prayer and hoping for the best. What would you do?

A Weekend in Pictures – June 25th/26th 2016

The past week has been HOT. So we’ve more than relieved that this weekend has been much milder. Finally we were able to spend some time outside and to enjoy summer and nature.

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Our toddler loved to check out all those different tiny flowers at the playground…

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… and she also enjoyed climbing on those fantastic monkey bars! Who can blame her?

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In our family we all enjoy being barefoot and since that is something we can only do for a short period of time due to our climate being barefoot made this weekend extra-special for all of us!

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I love those lights and shadows – and can you spot father and toddler?

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I love my baby’s concentration, she could play with her baby sling for hours and hours! Well, not all the time of course…

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If you’re already a regular reader of Living a Catholic Fairy Tale you will most definitely know that in our family we love to bake and to cook. So this weekend we had pancakes…

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… and cherry cake.

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The end of the weekend:

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How was your weekend?

Why idealism and perfectionism are just not the same

Just last week I told you about my idealistic values and how that affects my life and the life of the people around me. This week I want to talk about perfectionism. And I want you to understand something very important: Idealism is not perfectionism!

Being idealistic means to stick to a certain value orientation, to believe in certain values and to be willing to always learn and become better at things. It’s actually an optimistic worldview – and it’s really not about being perfect. It’s just about getting better and better.

Perfectionism means to always strive for the best result possible. And that’s basically all, it’s not about learning and growing – it’s just about never being good enough, because no one of us is perfect. Perfectionism is a very pessimistic worldview.

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Do you know perfectionists?

I do. Almost every mother I know is to some extent a perfectionist. Moms tend to always feel they could do more and what they are doing is just not good enough. So many Moms always feel bad because of that. And that’s horrible.

So what is my goal with this article?

Actually I want to encourage you and tell you that you perform a whole lot better than you might think. You can’t do it all. I can’t do it all – nobody can. And that’s OK, you know? Just think about it: Do your children really mind when the house is messy? Do they mind eating pasta for the third day in a row? They don’t.

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And you shouldn’t either, because taking care of your kids is the most important thing you do. And as long as they are happy with you – no matter how imperfect you are – you’re doing a pretty good job.

So what am I doing here?

I’m striking a blow for imperfectionism. Be imperfect! You are imperfect anyway, so let’s celebrate it.

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?

Setting limits as an Attachment Parenting family

Sometimes we get asked whether we do set limits at all as an Attachment Parenting family. Some people seem to believe that being responsive to your children’s needs and treating them respectfully would require to just let them do anything they want.

But that’s not need-oriented, that is permissive. Attachment Parenting is all about love, care, respect, freedom and communication – but it is not a permissive parenting style. To the contrary, Attachment Parenting is an authoritative parenting style.

Parents who want to raise their children in this way do discipline their children but in a gentle way – and they do set limits.

The question is not if Attachment Parenting families set limits but which limits they set – and how.

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Attachment parenting is a highly communicative parenting style. As parents we communicate our own needs, we respond to our children’s needs, we communicate the needs that we have as a family and we also communicate the needs other people have. We also talk about our values concerning faith, manners, ecological awareness, humility, generosity and so many other things that are important to us.

And that is also the way we set limits, we talk about what’s right and wrong in our family and how we can do things better. Setting limits doesn’t mean to force your children to do certain things or to behave in a certain way, it’s not about punishing misconduct or conditioning our children’s behavior. Setting limits in an attachment parenting way means to communicate and to ask our children to do or not to do certain things.

This is a beautiful way of growing together as a family in love and respect and yes, it does work. Sometimes it works better, sometimes it doesn’t work at all – like all things. Give it a try!

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.