The Catholic Home
“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us” Winston
We are all subject to these same pressures, yet it is how we as parents respond to them that determines the outcome for our families. “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgement and self mastery- the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” (CCC para 2223 ) “The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach their children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies” (CCC para 2224) This can only happen when parents direct time and resources and energy into founding and continuing to create their own special unique home and make spending time in it not merely alongside but with their children, a non-negociable priority. Clearly this education in the virtues will be not be possible if parents and children spend no time together, things are organised in such a way as to lead the eye continually to a television which is perpetually switched on and the house is habitually filled with clutter and noise. In order to ensure that family life is not simply squeezed out of the household, parents need to make physical space for family time such as a family table or hearth and for prayer, silence intrusions for at least part of their time together each day and design a routine which makes prayer and conversation a daily part of their family life.
As individuals, couples and families, if we have the vision and faith, we can be homemakers. We can make the space in which we live a true reflection of the way in which our family lives its life, to make it truly our territory and therefore to give it the kind of meaning and sense of belonging which is so crucial to our sense of self and of family. A real family Home is a sacred place; sacred because it demands the respect of others for its particular and unique ethos and culture, but also because it is the privileged place in which God calls us to communion with each other and ultimately with himself. The world with all of its assumptions and demands and noise presses in on us continually. If we choose to, we can roll back its influence and create that sacred space, that oasis of calm, belonging, safety and peace in which we can feel we can grow together as a family, spiritually and emotionally, on our own terms and in our own way. In other words, we can create a place which will nurture each individual on their own spiritual journey towards our heavenly home and provide the scope for spiritual, physical, emotional and social growth and the kind of deep companionship we need along the way. A place, in other words in which we are all truly at home.
You might consider;
* identify what category of objects keep tripping you up and designate a place to keep them.
* decide on a routine which includes every family member in helping do the tasks needed to keep things in their designated places
*having rooted out items that are a block to the well being and development of the family and its members, introducing things which support a child’s learning and integration into the family culture such as ;” simple frames which enable a child to learn how to button, lace, hook, or tie things together.. washbasins where a child can wash his hands, brooms with which he can sweep the floor, dusters so that he can clean the furniture, brushes for shining his shoes or cleaning his clothes .i.e. objects which invite a child to do something, to carry out a real task with a practical goal to be obtained.” (DOC p64). “Nothing fancy is required..The room should be furnished very simply, with child sized furnishings”. p14 Basic Montessori by David Gettman. “Montessori Play and Learn” by Lesley Britton has a good chapter setting out some simple suggestions for making a home an environment which supports a child’s learning.
Making space “Space is the breath of art” Frank Lloyd Wright www.shape-cambridge.org.uk)
*Eating together; make this your priority and plan around the family meal
*Reading “Set Free Childhood” by Martin Large and decide whether and to what extent a television, computer or mobile phone should play a role in your childrens’ lives. This explains why it is primarily the medium of television itself which is poses a significant problem for a child’s development , rather than merely program content for good or bad. (Stefano Mazzeo, Catholics Unplug your televisions CUT Llananno, Powys http://www.cutunplugtv.co.uk/index.htm)
*Considering switching the ringer off on the telephone and turning on the answering machine for at least part of the time they spend together
*firmly setting aside a couple of hours each week when you can be at home together as a family and during which time you do the things necessary for the smooth running of your home.
For each of our children I bought a 1.5 meter square piece of cotton print and a 1.5 meter square piece of fluffy material (our older daughter chose her own when she could not yet talk but could point with great emphasis). I then sewed them together with large cable stitches; the result is a rug which they can sleep under, make tents under wrap themselves up in when they play and say morning prayers and ultimately take away with them when they leave home to remind them of how much they are loved.