Messy Family Podcast : Catholic Conversations on Marriage and Family

Mike and Alicia Hernon : Catholic Marriage Parent and Family

  • 1 hour 16 minutes
    MPF292: Managing Kids Activities

    Play is the work of childhood. 

    Summary

    It seems like in today’s world, parents are judged by how many activities their kids are in and how committed the whole family is to those activities.  We see this as leading to complete burnout for parents, but more importantly, it robs children of the joy of unsupervised, spontaneous time to just play.  We explain in this podcast what play is and why it is so important for children to engage in. The beautiful thing about play is that parents should NOT be involved!  It is one thing that we can do for our kids that requires less of us, not more.  Parents need to learn that kids must take risks, make choices, and be independent from adults.  And this means less supervision, not more.  Listen in to this conversation where we try to strike a balance between keeping kids busy in a healthy way and giving them space to be bored and make good choices.  

     

    Key Takeaways
    • Play is essential for a child’s development. It is “freely chosen and directed by the participants and undertaken for its own sake, not to achieve something” - Dr. Peter Gray

    • You need to be intentional about choosing your child’s activities based on their developmental needs. 

    • Kids under 12 really don’t need structured activities - only do them if they work for your lifestyle and are not a cause of stress in the family

    • Don’t allow external forces to impose false expectations on your involvement.  

    • Encourage your child to persevere even if an activity is difficult or not what they expected, but have the common sense to know when enough is enough.

    • Know the adults that are around your child recognizing that especially in the teen years these people can become mentors for them for good or for bad. 

     

    Couple Discussion Questions
    • Share with your spouse your experience with structured activities (sports, theater, lessons, etc).  What would you like to repeat? What would you like to avoid?

    • What activities are our children involved in?  Are they developmentally appropriate for them? 

    • How can we encourage more play among our children?  Are there other families who would join us in this? 

     

    Resources:

    Play Deprivation Is A Major Cause of the Teen Mental Health Crisis

    By JON HAIDT AND PETER GRAY

    https://www.afterbabel.com?utm_source=navbar&utm_medium=web

     

    15 July 2024, 11:00 am
  • 55 minutes 51 seconds
    MFP 291: Finding the Lord in Others

    Growing in holiness doesn’t require extraordinary actions, it requires doing ordinary things with great love.  And there is nothing more “ordinary” in the life of a child than a parent.

     

    Summary

    Often when people talk about life with children, the focus is on just getting through their childhood with your sanity in one piece!  There is some truth to that because parenting can be the most challenging thing you may ever do, but we would like to offer a different perspective.  What if we did allow family life to change us? What if we allowed it to change us for the better? Jesus wants to teach us how to love Him by loving our spouse and our children.  They are the first neighbors that we are called to love and serve and this, as lay people, is our path to holiness.  Listen in to this honest conversation about the challenges of loving those closest to us as we would love Jesus Himself. 

     

    Key Takeaways

     

    • If you are a frantic family you will resent the sacrifices that naturally come with family life.  Fruitful families embrace these sacrifices. 

    • Our world does not prize the ordinary so we can think that to be holy we need to do extraordinary things. 

    •  The true measure of how much you love the Lord is the measure by which you love that person in your life who is most difficult

    • Mark 9 - “Whoever receives such a child in my name, receives me.  And if you receive me, you receive the one who sent me”

    • Matthew 25 - “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”

    • Jesus doesn’t ask us to love an ideal.  He asks us to love actual people in our lives as we would love Him. 

     

    Couple Discussion questions
    • Think of a person in your life who shows God’s love to others.  What do they do?  How do they do it?  What can you imitate?  

    • “Whoever receives such a child in my name, receives me.  And if you receive me, you receive the one who sent me”  Who am I being called to “receive” right now in my state in life?  What are my thoughts on this person being Jesus? 

    • What is one small, practical way in which I can love my husband or wife better, starting today?  How can I receive their love more fully?

     

    8 July 2024, 12:00 pm
  • 48 minutes 27 seconds
    MPF 290: Creating a United Front for Your Kids - Parenting as a Team

    The greatest and most important collaboration you will ever have with another person is raising a child with your spouse.

     

    Summary

    Parents come to us with discipline issues all the time and our first question is usually, “What does your spouse think about this?”  You see, the most important person to learn from is the other parent of this child you are trying to raise!  It is when moms and dads work together that the greatest power is unleashed in parenting and that is when we can do the most good for our children.  Instead of focusing on your child and their behavior, focus first on yourself, then on how you and your spouse work together, and then you can come up with the best way to love your child and form them.  Listen in to this re-release of our 2019 podcast, Parenting as a Team.  

      Key Takeaways
    • The best thing you can do for your children is to not focus on them, but focus on your spouse first, and them second. Prioritize your relationship! 

    • Strength is found in your differences!  Respect what each one of you brings to the table.  

    • God never meant for you to be parents alone, or even just the two of you.  He wants to give you all the grace you need if you will just ask Him for it.  

     

    Couple Discussion Questions
    • What do you admire about how your spouse parents your kids? Tell them this.  

    • What is the biggest difference between you in how you parent?  How is this a strength? 

    • Take time this week to sit down and talk about your kids and how they are doing.  Make a plan to help them as best you can. 

    Resources

    Tip Sheet

    Worksheet from Discipline guide

    24 June 2024, 12:00 pm
  • 1 hour 6 minutes
    MPF 289: Fr. Mike Schmitz on Parenting and Marriage

    Parenting isn’t about doing everything perfectly.  It's about showing up over and over again no matter what.  

     

    Summary

    Some may question how a celibate man could have wisdom for husbands and wives, let alone parents.  But in this interview with Fr. Mike Schmitz, host of the Bible in a Year podcast, we think everyone will agree that his insights are awesome! Drawing from his own family experience as well as his role as a spiritual father, Fr. Mike shares with us how to love children who have fallen away from the church, the importance of your marriage to your walk with God, and why you actually don’t need to have the perfect plan for your family. In this conversation we laughed and cried as we reflected on the beauty and difficulties of life in a family (with some special shoutouts to middle children!).  Listen in as we have an honest and inspiring talk with a priest whose ministry has blessed so many.  

    Key Takeaways
    • Our family of origin impacts us more than almost anything else in our lives.

    • Parents put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect that sometimes they miss out on the joy of family life. 

    • It's more important that we are intentional about family life than we have the “perfect plan” on how to be a family.

    • It's not a bad thing for kids to see their parents have conflict as long as they are also able to experience the effects of their reconciliation. 

    • We can’t make the world safe for our kids, but we do need to make our kids strong.

    • The heart of the Father is the heart of the priesthood. 

    • If someone falls away from the Church, we may be tempted to cut them out or approve of everything they do, but neither is correct.   Remain in their lives in a consistent and uncompromising way, recognizing that their story isn’t over. 

     

    Couple Discussion Questions
    • Are there areas in our family life that we need to evaluate and possibly change?  Is there a course we are on that we need to correct?  

    • Knowing that our kids will be growing up in a difficult world, how can we make them strong? 

    • How can we respond better to those who have turned away from Christ or His Church?  How can we keep those lines of communication open?  

    • Who are the “spiritual fathers” in our life?  How can we pray for them?

    Resources

    Bible in a Year Podcast

    Ascension videos w Fr Mike

     

    Introduction and Fundraising Campaign (0:00 - 4:04) Interview with Father Mike Schmitz Begins (4:04 - 5:09) Father Mike Schmitz's Background (5:09 - 7:02) Parenting and Family Life (7:02 - 13:23) Insights on Parenting and Perfection (13:23 - 18:13) Parental Sacrifice and Consistency (00:19:32 - 00:21:28) Parental Influence and Decision-Making (00:21:28 - 00:23:42) Navigating Marital Challenges (00:23:43 - 00:27:37) Spiritual Fatherhood (00:37:06 - 00:38:41) Parenting Journey and Impact (00:38:42 - 00:41:36) Understanding Parental Heartache (00:46:43:18 - 00:47:31:20) Dealing with Children Leaving Faith (00:47:31:22 - 00:48:57:00) Parental Support and Communication (00:50:29:03 - 00:52:37:11) Sexual Intimacy and Spirituality (00:56:53:17 - 00:58:32:06) Blessing and Spiritual Growth (01:02:14:04 - 01:03:32:18)

    17 June 2024, 11:43 am
  • 48 minutes 35 seconds
    MFP 288: Sisterhood - an interview with the Doman Women

    Our parents made us sisters, but God made us friends.  

     

    Summary

    One of the greatest blessings of Alicia’s life is that God gave her 9 brothers and sisters to laugh, play, fight, create, and pray with most of her life! This conversation is from a girls getaway weekend with the five Doman sisters.  Now, because all the Doman siblings are practicing Catholics  in good relationship with each other and their parents, people may put them in a category of “the perfect Catholic family”.  But that is far from true.  As you will hear, each one of these sisters has lived through tragedies and difficulties that were completely unexpected and not chosen by them at all. It is by God’s grace that each one of them has grown into the woman God is calling her to be and it is through that relationship with Christ, as well as the accident of birth, that we are able to have true sisterhood together.  Listen in as we talk about God’s faithfulness through the difficulties of life and how true sisterhood with those in your family and friends are essential to our survival.  

     

    Key Takeaways
    • Life is not always easy, but God is near

    • We can learn from those who God gives us, even when they are different from us.  Don’t get frustrated by differences, embrace them!

    • When we are joined together by common faith in Christ, we can develop true friendships

     

    Couple Discussion Questions
    • What relationships can we invest more in to develop sisterhood and brotherhood? 

    • Are we happy with our relationships with our siblings?  Why or why not? What can we change about this? 

    • How does sharing values with others change us? 

    10 June 2024, 12:00 pm
  • 1 hour 2 minutes
    MFP 287: Training for Virtue and Giving Freedom
    Summary In this episode, we explore the essential aspects of training for virtue and the challenging task of granting freedom to our children. We emphasize the importance of always communicating that you are on their side as a mentor, teacher, and guide, expecting mistakes along the way. We discuss the value of risking giving your child freedom, acknowledging it's not an easy journey. Key discussion points include how to provide more freedom for kids to make good choices, understanding if teens view parents as mentors, and identifying areas needing better boundaries and more training at home. Join us for practical strategies and insights to support your children in making virtuous choices while balancing freedom and boundaries.

     

    Key Takeaways
    • Always communicate that you are on their side as a mentor, teacher, and guide. 
    • Expect mistakes
    • Be willing to risk giving your child freedom - beware!  It's not easy! 
    Couple discussion questions

     

    • How can we give our kids more freedom to make good choices? What are my fears about this? 

    • Do my teens see me as a mentor?  Why or why not.  Plan some time to talk to them about this.  

    • Where do we need better boundaries in our home?  What are the areas in which our children need more training? 

     

    3 June 2024, 11:00 am
  • 55 minutes 8 seconds
    MFP 286: Learning to Love by Being Loved

    The most important challenge you can take 

    What does it take to be a great parent and have a joyful family? We think it all boils down to three essential elements. We have turned these three elements into the Play and Pray Challenge!  More than ever, we need to celebrate the love of Jesus in the month of June, because it is HIS love and lordship that will truly fulfill all our deepest longings!  What is the challenge? In the month of June do these three things with your family -  Organize and execute an amazing FAMILY DAY, plan and go on a DATE NIGHT, and proclaim Jesus Christ as the KING OF THE HOME by placing the image of the Sacred Heart in their house and “enthroning” Him as King.  We want to make this a fun and rewarding experience for families, so we have created some resources to help you out. Go to our website messyfamilyproject.org/challenge to get our Play and Pray Challenge Kit.  There are even promo materials for you to put up at your parish or school!  

    Get the free download and let us know your family is taking the challenge - https://messyfamilyproject.org/challenge/

     

    Related podcast episode: 

    MFP 091: King of the Home - https://messyfamilyproject.org/mfp-091-king-of-the-home/

     MFP 257: How to Change Your Heart  - https://messyfamilyproject.org/mfp-257-how-to-change-your-heart-lessons-from-the-sacred-heart-of-jesus/

    Key takeaways:

    1. One of the greatest assets we have in parenting is the ability to choose how we spend our time.  Protect your yes with 1,000 no’s

    2. Your children need to be known and loved by you. Joy must be alive in your home.

    3. Your marriage gives you the grace to be a parent. So invest deeply in your marriage!

    4. Devotion to the Sacred heart is a game changer for families

    5. If you want to pray with your kids you need to play with them.  

    Couple Discussion

    1. How do we waste time with our kids?  How do we lavish love on them?

    2. What brings joy to the hearts of our children? How can we do more of that? 

    3. What is my understanding of the love of Jesus flowing from His Sacred Heart?  How can I express this love to my children?

     

    27 May 2024, 11:00 am
  • 58 minutes 21 seconds
    MPF 285: Tech Traps for Boys and Girls
    Summary

    In this next part of our series on tech, we talk about the specific challenges that tech use brings to boys and girls.  Just as men and women have different gifts, they also deal with different temptations in their tech use.  Because of this, parents must be proactive in teaching boundaries to their children so they can use tech with freedom when they leave your house and enter the world of adulthood. During this conversation, we give you some principles that you will need to discuss with your spouse to make a tech policy of your own. Every family must have some boundaries, because if you don’t define them, then the reality is that Big Tech will be calling the shots in your house. Their goal is to control your kids and they have the means to do it.  

      Key Takeaways
    • Because of the genius of men to create and subdue the world they are more tempted to be addicted to video games.  Because of women’s gift of relationships they are more tempted to be absorbed in social media.  

    • Parents must know the symptoms of addiction and immediately respond if they believe their child has an addiction.  Their child’s future success in life depends on it. 

    • The best filter is a well-formed child who knows how to respond to toxic online content. 

    • You must teach and model healthy tech use for your kids - nothing is private, have a healthy skepticism of any online content, and learn good manners.  

      Couple Discussion Questions
    • Are we aware of the symptoms of tech addiction?  Are any of our children in danger of this addiction?  If so, what are we going to do about it? 

    • Do we have a written tech policy?  Plan a time to discuss with your spouse and create one.  

    • What is our plan for social media use for our children?  

    Resources
    20 May 2024, 8:43 pm
  • 50 minutes 12 seconds
    MFP 284: Is Your Child Addicted to Screens?

    The destructive effects of video games are not on boys' cognitive abilities or their reaction times, but on their motivation and their connectedness with the real world.

    ~Dr. Leonard Sax

    Technology can be a blessing or a curse. It can be used for great good and yet it can expose people to grave evil. Helping our children learn how to responsibly navigate the use of technology, especially social media, is one of the immense parenting challenges of our age.  In this podcast, we look at the unique challenges that technology presents to parents and why parents must meet this challenge head-on!  We talk about how to discern your tech use as a family and why just locking down every device is simply not enough.  Like most areas of parenting, we need to first train ourselves and then take the time to train our children.  

    KEY TAKEAWAYS:

    • Don’t be naive. Stay on top of what your kids are watching and what they are engaging with.  It is our responsibility to prepare and guide them. 

    • Discern your tech use as a person and as a family. Walk them through the seven keys to empower them to make good choices because tech is a powerful gift of God and should be used for good.

    • Seven keys the church gives us to guide us in using technology

      • Does it communicate a balanced worldview?

      • How is the creator's attitude oriented towards the subject?

      • Does it dignify the human person?

      • Does it speak the Truth?

      • Is it inspirational?

      • Is it done with skill? 

      • Is it motivated by experience?

    • Train your children to use it as they grow. Like driving a car, prepare them to use it as they mature and are old enough to use it wisely and virtuously

     

    COUPLE DISCUSSION

    • In what ways have we been blessed by media and technolgy?  How has it helped us? 

    • How can we discern our media use as a family?  

    • If our goal is to form our children to become adults who can make good media choices, how and when can we give our children appropriate freedom?  What does that look like for our kids today? 

     

    Resources: 

    Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media. By Dr. Eugene Gan

    https://www.afterbabel.com/p/algorithms-hijacked-my-generation

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2799042

     

    https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/are-video-games-and-screens-another-addiction

     

    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2024/03/teen-childhood-smartphone-use-mental-health-effects/677722/?gift=9xPqLPcwLfFbf_nnCRecvKJ-3gklcv6nZX-Hliug6W4&utm_source=copy-link&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=share

     

    https://ifstudies.org/blog/is-your-son-addicted-to-video-games

     

    13 May 2024, 10:00 am
  • 1 hour 10 minutes
    MPF 283: Marriage, Divorce, and Hope

    “We can only see our spouse clearly when we look at Jesus first.” - Dan Lawson

     

    Summary

    In this podcast, we tackle some hard issues in marriage.  What makes couples believe that they need to get divorced?  Why is it essential for couples to have a vision for their individual lives and for their marriage?  What is the pattern in successful marriages that we can emulate?  We even talk about what to say to a person who tells you they are getting a divorce - a very difficult and sensitive topic, but one that we have to discuss.  Dan Lawson is a Catholic therapist who takes a solution-focused approach with his clients, as opposed to “problem-focused” approach.  This means that instead of looking only at what is going wrong in a relationship, he asks questions and guides clients to look at what is going right.  This hopeful approach helps spouses to encounter their own goodness which is where you need to start to create a pattern of mutual admiration, one of the hallmarks of a successful marriage.  Listen into this essential conversation! 

     

    Key Takeaways
    • Divorce is a sin against hope.  It says “I can’t change.  They can’t change.”  

    • The goal of life is not the perfect marriage, the goal is holiness. We need to start first by looking at Jesus and pursuing holiness in our own lives.  Then our marriage can improve. 

    • It is essential that each of us look first at what we are doing right in our marriages and in our lives.  When we can see and affirm that, then we can do more of that and “starve” out the negativity.

    • Every person needs to ask themselves the question, “Who do I want to be at the end of my life?”  We need to have a vision for our lives and live that way in our marriages.

    • Establishing a pattern of admiration and trust is key to building a life-long, life-giving marriage. Most spouses struggle to communicate their needs and their feelings. 

     

    Couple Discussion Questions
    • What is my vision for my life?  Who do I want to be at the end of my life? 

    • How has my spouse loved me this year?  What are some of our greatest accomplishments together?

    • “The goal of life is not the perfect marriage, the goal is holiness”  What are my thoughts on this?

     

    6 May 2024, 12:00 pm
  • 53 minutes 7 seconds
    MFP 282: These People are Driving Me Crazy! Growing in Patience

    It’s easier to be patient after we come to realize how patient our Heavenly Father is with us.

     

    Why is it so hard for parents to be patient with their children?  People who thought they were good and normal adults find themselves tearing their hair out over the things done by a child half their size and a fraction of their age!  One thing we tell parents over and over is that parenting is supposed to change you.  It is supposed to form you.  It is supposed to be challenging, so if you are struggling, that is OK!  But we do have some tips for you and some stories that we hope will help change your perspective on growing in this essential virtue for moms and dads.  

     

    Key Takeaways:

    • If you are impatient with your children you are normal!  Lean in and allow yourself to be changed as you grow in virtue

    • Children need adults to slow down and give them time to do things by themselves

    • Parenting takes alot of time!  Lessons need to be taught over and over.  There is no magic bullet.  Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint.

    • We can learn to be patient by first realizing how patient God is with us.  We are disobedient, messy kids but our Father teaches us the same lessons over and over

     

    Couple Discussion: 

    • How would you rate your patience on a scale of 1-10?  How would you rate your spouse?  Discuss this.  

    • What lessons in your life has God had to teach you over and over?  How has God been patient with you? 

    • Which one of your children do you find it most difficult to be patient with and why?  Which of your children to you find it easiest to be patient with?  How can you learn from this?

     

    29 April 2024, 12:00 pm
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