Catholic Parenting

Four Reasons People Avoid Counseling (And Why They Don't Hold Up)

( image credit here)

I went back to counseling recently. I’m not seeking therapeutic help because some severe addiction plagues me. I’m not going because I’m a serial adulterer or because I’m facing an epic marital crisis.

The main reason I’m attending is because sometimes, when I’m stressed or tired or when the sky is cloudy, I lack the self-control necessary to hold my tongue. Instead of responding to my husband and six children, I sometimes react harshly to them, thereby making an already trying familial situation even more difficult.

Meeting with someone who helps me create strategies to combat this personal weakness has already had positive effects. CEO’s come up with business plans all the time to improve their financial performance. Since I’m the co-CEO of the Duggan Corporation, it can’t hurt to create a performance plan of my own.

I’ve noticed some Catholics are weary of counseling and for good reason. It would not be helpful, for instance, if a counselor suggested I get on the birth control pill and quit homeschooling as the  solution to the stress I experience in family life. I’ve already discerned that the birth control pill and full time school won’t really solve my problems, but coping skills for emotional volatility actually will. I don’t want to have to defend my faith or my lifestyle to someone who doesn’t understand. Even if I did quit having babies and put all my kids in school, I’m still going to struggle with my temper. I need some tricks and tips to help me manage myself in challenging life situations, not quick fixes. 

Read the rest at Aleteia.

Spaghetti Dinners

Spaghetti Dinners Blessed Silence Colleen Duggan Catholic Writer

Right now, there is blessed silence.

John just took five of the kids to evening swim team practice.

The noise produced and energy required to get that stampede of elephants out the door would make the Ringling Brothers sweat.

Before they left, I told Christopher, the seven year old, no less than ten times to find his flip flops, put them on, and get in the van.

For at least eight minutes, that child wandered about the back yard and then into the house, staring at the ceiling, making small explosive sounds, and simulating bombs with his hands.

He still had no shoes after eight minutes of


, but no actual


We’ve reviewed this difference, he and I, at least one thousand times.

I’ve told him that


is not the same as


, but he stares at me like I am an odd creature speaking in a language he’s never heard.

My lectures don’t work.

The boy can never find his shoes when we need to leave.

But right now, there is blessed silence and I don’t have to worry about teachable moments or Christopher’s flip-flops.

Camille was wearing nothing but a bathing suit just minutes before John corralled the kids.

In a moment of weakness earlier this afternoon, I agreed to let the lot of them turn on the hose to cool off in the summer heat.

Cursed hose!

Harbinger of fights and catastrophe!

For the next hour, I sat in my rocking chair referring arguments and inappropriate hose dousing.

I did convince Camille to put on some clothes before she left, though.

She chose a mismatched ensemble of bright yellow and orange, splattered with spaghetti stains.

Speaking of which, we’ve had spaghetti for dinner for two nights in a row.

Half of me feels guilty that I’ve completely abdicated summer meal planning, but the other half can’t be bothered.

And so, most evenings for the last few months, we’ve dined on sandwiches and quesadillas, and….yes, spaghetti.

So far, the kids are all fine.

And for now, there is this blessed silence; the only sound the pitter-patter of my keyboard.

I’m avoiding the mess in the kitchen, of course.

Meaghan, the almost twelve year old, has been broadening her culinary skills.

She creates simple meals like sandwiches and quesadillas and spaghetti (see above), and she does a tiptop job.

She’s all but mastered the art of spaghetti, really.

But stewarding and bussing tables? I am still cultivating those skills with her, bless her beautiful heart of goodness.

I walked over several strands of sticky spaghetti stuck to the floor as I fled to my office just now and there is red sauce splattered from one end of my white tiled kitchen floor to the other.

But beggars can’t be choosers and at this moment in my life—at all moments, really--I’m most certainly a beggar.

Thank you, Meaghan, for your zealous efforts to supply the family with food.

God knew what I needed when He gave me you.

Right now, though, I’m not worried about the spaghetti sauce or the starch covered pots or the noodles stuck to the floor.

There is this blessed silence enveloping me, a blessed silence indeed.

Edward went with John and the other hooligans.

Edward, wearing only diaper just moments before I secured him in his car seat, was covered in red sauce and had adopted a strange black grime from an afternoon outdoors.

He grinned at me as I wiped him down from head to toe, threw a cotton top and shorts on him, and placed him in the car.

This blessed silence is coming to a close, it will soon be over, my brief moment of respite ended.

Soon, I will rise from this desk and from my keyboard and I will fill the kitchen sink with warm soapy water.

I will submerge the pots covered in filth and grim and I will scrub them clean.

I will mop the floors—again, though I mopped them just last night—and I will wipe down the counters.

I will ready this space for the stampede of elephants who will burst through the door and who will destroy my blessed silence.

But they light up my world.

Be Not Afraid: A Lesson From The Deep End

“Your fear is not the boss of you, Christopher,” I said to my seven-year old son, attempting to channel Coach Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights.

“You’ve got to tell that fear to get in the backseat because you are driving the car.”

Christopher slouched in front of me. 

“I can’t tell my fear to get in the backseat.  I’m afraid,” he said.  (Clearly, my Coach Taylor wasn’t working.)

Though he’s had four years of swim lessons and ample one on one coaching, Christopher still believed he couldn’t swim the length of the pool during swim team trials.  No amount of encouragement or time in the water assuaged his nerves.

All the coaches noticed. 

“Mrs. Duggan,” the patient head coach said to me after he watched Chris in the pool, “Christopher isn’t ready to be on the team.  Every time a coach tells him to do something, Chris says he’s can’t.”

This was not news. 

Read the rest at Aleteia.

Getting My Kids Into Harvard Is Not My Endgame: I'm Aiming Higher

I received an email from my nine-year old daughter’s dance studio, which stated if she missed any more ballet classes, she would not participate in the yearly recital. I did my due diligence and typed up an explanation for her absence coupled with an appropriate apology. It took sincere effort, however, to refrain from reminding the director that Mary is not a professional dancer.

Nor is she an Olympic athlete.

Getting My Kids Into Harvard is Not My Endgame Parenting with Colleen Duggan Catholic Writer

Mary will not grace the stage as Baryshnikov’s ballet partner, but finds great enjoyment in the fundamentals of dance. Her pleasure is enough for me to continue with lessons. I don’t care if she isn’t the lead in the Nutcracker Ballet or occasionally misses practices because of legitimate family commitments.

I live in an area where children’s extracurricular schedules run parents. Moms and dads across my state spend their time outside of work toting kids from music lessons, to dance classes, to robotics clubs, art, soccer, baseball, horseback riding, lacrosse, etc. There is no time for family dinners or throwing the football or read alouds. There is not time for children to foster creativity.

Read the rest here.