Parenting: Navigating the Labyrinth

Labyrinth is defined as “an intricate combination of paths or passages in which it is difficult to find one’s way or to reach the exit.”  Our parenting journey can often feel the same. Changing generational terminology creates dynamic intergenerational conversations. “Digital immigrants” is the phrase coined to describe persons like today’s parents who weren’t born into the world of texting, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, etc. Our children are products of this world, and so are termed as being “digital natives.”

During our school days, our communication tools involved letter writing and telephoning. When sharing this history with our kids the response is often a look of utter stupefaction. For them it is simply incomprehensible. This generational reaction repeats itself continually throughout the ages. We remember our own parents coming to grips with unfolding fashion trends and unconventional hairstyles.

Being 21st century Catholic parents is a challenging vocation. We are instilling our faith values amidst a storm of conflicting secular values. The pursuit of personal gratification through materialism confronts our kids continually. “Buy this product and it will show everyone that you are cool” is the media message. In addition to this media influence our kids also face peer pressure. The values proposed through these forces are powerful and create frequent tension with our kids. It is tough being a kid today in my view. The constant bombardment of anti-Catholic messages is powerful and ever present.

What are we to do? Time to talk and listen is critical in maintaining a healthy, loving family relationship. When answering NO to a request, it is imperative that we logically and patiently explain our decision-making process. Ongoing, respectful dialogue between both parties is essential in reaching an agreement.

Being proactive in establishing house rules that demonstrate the expectations of your family is key. Assigning tasks promotes responsibility (dishes, garbage collection, etc.) It demonstrates that a family involves sharing the load. For teens a pre-established curfew time needs to be established through a collaborative discussion. Dogmatic rule, as research and history has proven, is doomed to be a failed course of action.

Our kids, just as we did, are searching for their purpose in life. They are provided with a labyrinth of routes that they must explore. We must be there as a guide on the side to offer advice and to provide consolation to them when their choice isn’t the best.

The enigma of parenting is one that God has given us to navigate. Faithful dedication to our faith principles coupled with prayer invites our Lord to be with us as we strive to be the faithful stewards of his precious creations.

Let us journey together through the labyrinth of parenting with the trust that God walks with us.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
(Proverbs 22:6)


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Incidents of schoolyard bullying drop in Ontario

The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Jul. 09 2014, 3:01 AM EDT


Schoolyard bullying in Ontario is on the decline, according to a new survey that shows interventions and increased attention are forcing kids to speak up.

But at the same time, the percentage of students who are being bullied over the Internet has not significantly changed since the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health first started tracking cyberbullying in 2011.

The CAMH survey, released on Wednesday, of more than 10,000 Ontario students in Grades 7 through 12 is conducted every two years and tracks their social behaviour, mental health and physical well-being. The students answered anonymous questionnaires between November, 2012, and June of last year.

Several high-profile cases have pushed the issue of bullying and how to tackle it to the forefront. Amanda Todd of Port Coquitlam, B.C., was 15 when she died by suicide in October, 2012, after being tormented by bullies, both in person and online. Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S., who killed herself last April, was also bullied.


The CAMH survey found that the percentage of kids who say they were bullied at school dropped eight percentage points over the past decade. The percentage of students who report bullying others also fell by half over the same time period.

Meanwhile, one in five students report being a victim of cyberbullying, with females more likely than males to say they were bullied on the Internet, the survey found. That figure has barely changed over the past two years.

Wendy Craig, a professor of psychology at Queen’s University and scientific co-director of the healthy-relationships advocacy group PREVNet, said that while schools, parents and students are better at acting upon schoolyard bullying, kids don’t know how to cope with cyberbullying. She noted that many children are given a cellphone by Grade 4, with little information on the risks associated with it.

“We should monitor them, provide them with feedback and we should coach them through it,” she said. “And as they get better, we give them more autonomy. I think that’s where we as adults aren’t doing our job as well as we should be.”

Prof. Craig said it is encouraging that school playground bullying has fallen. She credits that to heightened media attention around high-profile bullying cases, and parents and schools being pro-active on the issue. Ontario, for example, leads the way among provinces in its safe schools legislation, and requires every school to have a bullying intervention program.

This is important because new research shows that being bullied has links to brain development: It affects a child’s ability to regulate emotion, and to learn and retain information.

“It’s a really insidious behaviour, and we know it has long term consequences,” Prof. Craig said. “We have real concerns about those kids when they get bullied outside at recess and they have to go back in and learn and they’re not ready.”

Kelly Krug, the co-ordinator responsible for a safe learning and working environment at the Peel District School Board, said schools have noticed a drop in physical and verbal bullying, because of the interventions. “Kids are telling adults and are involving adults in situations around bullying,” she said.

The Peel district has a safe schools team in each school made up of staff, a student, a parent and a community member. Among the various anti-bullying initiatives, some schools have a partnership with the Canadian Red Cross, where student ambassadors are trained in bullying prevention and intervention.

“The policies and plans are very, very firm and solidified and part of the way we do business today, which wasn’t in place 10 years ago,” Ms. Krug said. “Everyone is more aware of bullying as a whole.”


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Back to School!

See you in September  ♬ are the words of a popular song that is a June radio favourite. It speaks to the seemingly distant month that beckons a return to school. Questions absent from the breakfast table during the summer months return to homes across the province .Do you have your lunch? How about your backpack? Did you wash behind your ears? Stress! Stress!  :( Stress! It abounds as anticipation of a new beginning nears the September 2nd return to school date.

As parents you have clear expectations for your child but as Catholic parents you have additional responsibilities .School is about relationships for Mom and Dad, relationship with Faith and relationship with teachers.

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Relationship with FAITH:

Parents as the first and foremost educators of their child (Lumen Gentium 11 from the 2nd Vatican Council) set the example for the child by living our Gospel values as demonstrated by Jesus Christ. He is our guiding light. We pray as a family and participate in our parish liturgical celebrations. Our pastors nurture our spiritual journey through Sunday mass and celebration of the sacraments.  School liturgies and prayer services within the life of the Catholic community not only celebrates God’s gifts but also serve as an opportunity to join together  at times of success and trouble. Parish, school and home form an essential triad in their faith development.

Relationship with Teacher Partners:

Suntne angeli? “Are they angels?”

It is essential to understand that as first and foremost educators we are not the sole educators. Our partners in the process are our teachers. It is essential that we develop a respectful relationship with them built on respect. They are professionally certified and have the pedagogical skills. Trust must be established through communication which should be on going. When disagreements arise seek to understand not to judge. Clearly enunciate   the concern from your perspective and exercise attentive listening. Remember that the Good Lord gave us two ears and one mouth for a purpose.

“We should be slow to speak and patient in listening to all … our ears should be wide open to our neighbor until he seems to have said all that is in his mind.”

                                                                                                            -St. Ignatius Loyola

Be a problem solver by pursuing a resolution through collaboration and consensus seeking. Remember one is either part of the problem or part of the solution.

Participation in school activities enables you to move to engagement. Contributing as a parent helps demonstrate your willingness to assist teachers with their work.  It role models volunteering and sets a good example for the child. Home and school are the incubators for the growth of Catholicity under the stewardship of both the parents and teachers with the support of the parish.

It is understandable for parents to fret about their child’s return to school .They are after all entrusting the love of their life to the teaching staff. Let me ease your mind a little. The word Catholic emanates from the Greek word “Kata holos” meaning welcoming everyone and that includes your child as one made in the image and likeness of God.

“For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb,” says Psalm 139. “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” God loves us as we are because that’s how God made us.

There is a purpose in our children attending a Catholic school. The purpose as described in a publication by the Algonquin and Lakeshore CDSB: “The worthiest purpose of education is that learners might become fully alive human beings who help to create a society that serves the “Bonum commune” (common good)”.

“Latent and sometimes locked within each human heart is a dream waiting to be born.”

-Jacquline Syrup Bergan and Marie Schwan, C.S.J.,

Birth: A Guide for Prayer

Embrace the journey ahead and as the words from a song in the Catholic Book of Worship says:

“Be Not Afraid, I will not leave you orphaned.” Remember, We journey with the best!



Dr. Ashleigh Molloy

Director TransEd Institute

AKA “Dr. Ash”

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