As Catholics, Canon Law states that parents are the primary educators of their children (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2223). As Catholic educators within Catholic schools, it is incumbent upon that we partner with parents and families to ensure that the parents' place is maintained and supported in the education of their child(ren) in and through the Catholic faith.
Catholic schools could do more to help engage parents and families. Not only does it uphold Church teaching, but it is also sound educational philosophy. Recently, an article by Bruce Feiler was published in Parade Magazine that dealt with various aspects of the role that parents and families play in the formation of their children.
Most of it makes sense. Children's resilience is strengthened by having an understanding of their family's history. To encourage conversation and draw your family closer together, arrange the seats in your living room in a circle instead of all facing the TV. Siblings between the ages of 3 and 7 fight three to four times each hour! Girls delay the onset of sexual activity if they have had a close relationship with their fathers. Dads can also inspire greater confidence and better social skills in both sons and daughters with whom they have a strong relationship.
Other pieces of the excerpt of Fieler's book, "The Secrets of Happy Families" are much more eye opening and somewhat counter-intuitive: have a vote before discussing an issue in order to make the best decision possible; celebrating the success of a spouse is more valuable for the relationship than supporting him/her during a difficult time; kids should have a role in picking their own punishments (something we do at ICS - see "Discipline to Disciple"); its more beneficial for a child to be given freedom with his/her allowance than to be forced to save, spend and/or offer up in service.
One excerpt is astonishing: children will need to learn 3,000 new words each year from 3rd to 12th grades! This makes our work in transition to the Common Core State Standards and its emphasis on reading and Language Arts.
As parents, we are not only the primary educators, we are also the most important. So, spend time with your kids and family and stay up until 1:23 a.m. to do silly things like write blogs instead of doing it while they are awake.
May God strengthen families and may the model of the Holy Family, which graciously accepted the gift of the Incarnation, inspire greater devotion, dedication and love to each other and to God.
And may God grant me patience tomorrow when I'm sleep deprived because I put, and always will, my family first.