Parenting Advice from St. Philip Neri

St. Philip Neri (1515 - 1595)

St. Philip Neri (1515 – 1595)

While packing to move (We bought a house! Yay!), I found my copy of “If God Be With Us: The Maxims of St. Philip Neri“. As I flipped through it, skimming through the daily bits of wisdom, I noticed a few that could be applied to parenting. Granted, the few recorded statements of Neri (of which most were burned at his request) chiefly concerned with fellow clergy or young men discerning that vocation. However, I think with just a little editorial license some of his advice can be applied by faithful parents.

  • Nulla dies sine linea. Do not let a day pass without some good during it.”
  • “He who wishes to be perfectly obeyed should give but few orders.”
  • “Let persons of the world sanctify themselves in their own houses, for neither the [royal] court, professions, or labor, are any hindrance to ...

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Beautiful Family

3/4 of my beautiful kids

3/4 of my beautiful kids

“I just wanted to tell you how beautiful your family is.”

Hearing that used to feel awkward. OK, well, I guess it still does. We’ve heard it so many times after mass, though, that we’ve kind of gotten used to it. Some folks are impressed by how well behaved our kids are. Others are just happy to see a larger-than-average young family attending mass faithfully.

I don’t mean any of this as a humblebrag. I really don’t. It just establishes a frame of reference for the strange experience we had coming home from Thanksgiving vacation.

We stopped at a Burger King for dinner on the way home from my in-laws’. I fed Ella and sat with the other kids while Amanda ordered our food. While she was gone, a couple older ladies stopped by our table on the way out. They told me how ...

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Fearing Death on All Souls Day


Lily and her Pop-Pop

I was already feeling pretty emotional at the All Souls Day mass. Our parish mourned the deaths of parishioners in the past year by reading their names and having loved ones come up to the front of the altar to light prayer candles.

Watching anguished faces approach the candles was hard.

Recalling lost loved ones of years gone by was hard.

Contemplating my own mortality is always hard.

Contemplating my mortality with respect to how it will affect my children was very hard.

Trying to explain what the mass was all about to my precocious and curious older kids (6, 5, and 3.5) was awkwardly hard.

Talking to my kids about the deceased best friend from whom Alex got his middle name was really hard.

The hardest part of the ceremony, though, was when I accidentally made my 3.5 yo daughter think her grandfather was dead.


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Discipline in Antiphonal Iambic Tetrameter

XKCD: Iambic Pentameter

“Of course, you don’t wanna limit yourself to the strict forms of the meter. That could get pretty difficult.”

The selfish and disrespectful behavior of my kids (especially Thing 1) – such as taking toys that other people were using, doing something mean because they think it’s funny, or breaking rules because they’re inconvenient – has thus far been resistant to correction. We needed to try something different. Necessity, as the saying goes, is the mother of invention. The solution currently undergoing field testing is an idea that Shakespeare or the ancient Greeks might be proud of.

I’ve introduced a new mantra to be spoken antiphonally when an offense has occurred. I think it’s in iambic tetrameter with trochaic substitutions. Either that, or it’s in trochaic with iambic substitutions. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m not an expert in poetic metre.

I cannot do what I want to do (child ...

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A Real Mensch

Sheriff Joel

Sheriff Joel

Joel made me really proud two weeks ago, but he was just doing the kind of thing he usually does.

Joel’s very confident in pre-K (as all my kids have been), and he has never had any separation anxiety, but plenty of kids have. One of the girls in his class has had a particularly hard time adjusting. She cries just about every day, missing her mommy terribly. As a result, she has had some trouble socializing with her classmates.

Two weeks ago, this girl was having another rough day, and nobody seemed to want to play with her. Everyone except Joel, that is.

He invited her over to a table to draw and write. She was hesitant at first, but soon they were both writing, smiling, and laughing together.

As a reward for his warm gesture of friendship, Joel’s teachers gave him the plastic sheriff star badge in the ...

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