Teaching the Way of Love (TWL) is a program for Catholic parents that encourages and empowers them to embrace their role as the primary educators of their children, especially in the areas of moral and personal development.

Parenting Through Puberty

It’s time to strap on extra fortitude and temperance – the teen years are about to begin! Parenting children between the ages of 9-12 requires more understanding, foresight and strategy than ever because children in this stage of life begin the complex and sometimes unsettling process of becoming adults. Every aspect of their being is about to undergo a process of change. And, whether you like it or not, whether you find it easy or not, whether you want this to happen or not, it is your obligation to walk with your children and guide them towards an adult life that is pleasing to God.

Probably the most difficult part of parenting a child at this time is the fact that God’s timing for full maturation is inconsistent – nothing is normal. Some children develop slowly – others quickly. If you think this is confusing for you as an adult, remember that the child is just as perplexed (if not more so).

The most visible signs of emerging adulthood typically are physical; growth spurt, body shape changes, additional body hair. Don’t be fooled that the ‘external’ body is the only thing that is developing. Internal organs are also changing. In particular, the brain is also undergoing acute differentiation. Simplistically, the brain is experiencing a ‘rewiring’ that has to occur so that your child will not only look like an adult but also think like and adult.

With the changes in the brain, parents will become aware that the personal, social, intellectual, moral and spiritual components of the child will also mature. (Again, there is no ‘normal’ progression – God intends this process to be unique in each child.) Parents will notice the child will want more independence, have more passionate opinions, desire more attention from members of the opposite gender, be more emotional and spend more time pondering life.

Be not afraid of this age span! Engage in the process – hang in there for the long haul – commit to being there both now and forever. Embrace both the challenges and the blessings that are in your future. Your rewards will be great in heaven. Let's first take a look at how families can accomplish Saint Pope John Paul II's tasks of the family as children reach puberty, so they can continue to grow in their vocation as Christian families!

Fertility Appreciation Training for Parents

This free video series is designed to help parents grow in their understanding of human fertility in order to help you discuss these things with your child. Parents are encouraged to share this information in age-appropriate ways. The Growing in the Way of Love program can help you do that.

Forming a Community of Persons

Happy big family have a rest in parkEven though your child wants more independence during these years, it is your obligation to keep him firmly rooted in the norms and expectations of the family. This is the first task that you have as a parent. In order to ensure that neither you nor your child bails out of the family during this time we offer the following guidelines.

Serving Life

Parents having a talk with teenage boyParents who have been honoring God’s plan for love and life and responsible parenthood up to this point will find the task of serving life in the pre-teen years much easier. Because they have lived marital chastity during the early family years, they will have a firm foundation of knowledge and wisdom in the matters of love, life and sexuality. Their participation in the deep mystery of God’s plan for human bonding and its fruitfulness will guide them as they gradually unfold information about sexuality and marital love to their children.

It is the parent’s duty to help their children know the mysteries of human life. No one can deliver the information with as much impact as the parent – no one. Children will remember what the parent has to say more than they will heed any other person’s ideas. This is critical to understand – whatever you say about sexuality and marital love will leave a lasting mark on your child. Whether it is the richness of the truth or some cheap counterfeit notion of love what you say will leave a lasting impression. We implore you to do you homework on this topic and search for what is truthful and beautiful. Settle for nothing less than the best!

The Office of Family Life for the Diocese of La Crosse has developed a three presentation series on parenting, human sexuality and chastity called Teaching the Way of Love. Attending these presentations is a wonderful way to learn more about the Catholic Church Teachings on love and life and prepare yourself to share this intimate information with your children. Here is a brief description of each presentation.

Developing Society

Portrait of young men frying sausages and talking in the countryside at weekend with their families near byWhen your children were younger, developing society as a family was directed by the parents. You determined where and how your family would serve others. The impetus for action originated from your passions more than from the hearts of your children. Well, this is about to change. As your children reach this stage, they are going to have their own ideas about how to serve others through volunteerism and social justice. This is not to say that you are going to become a rubber stamp for whatever they want to do. Rather, it means that more discussion and guidance (and perhaps a greater firmness in your discipline) will be needed to steer your child towards socially just behaviors. Consider the following

Participate in the Life & Mission of the Church

Teenage Family Saying Grace Before Eating Lunch Together In KitchenChildren at this age are masters at memorization. They are also at an age of great intellectual curiosity. The parent's task is to engage that curiosity and capitalize on their increased learning capacity to lead them to a better understanding of the faith. One mistake that parents often make at this stage is to assume that their children will receive all religious education in the classroom, either in a Catholic school or in a religious education program. Children at every stage in life look to their families for attitudes toward the faith. If parents leave faith formation and education exclusively up to religious education teachers, children will learn that faith is separate from everyday life. Religious education programs and Catholic schools are only meant to supplement the faith formation that happens in the home. Here's what you can do.

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God's Plan for Us: Faithfulness to God

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Parenting in the School-age Years: Developing Society

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Parenting in the School-age Years: Forming a Community of Persons

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Parenting in the School-age Years: Participating in the Church

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Parenting in the School-age Years: Serving Life

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Parenting is a Journey

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Parenting Styles

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The Dimensions of Maturity

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The Four Loves

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The Stair-Step Approach to Human Sexuality Education

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Three Key Catholic Teachings About Sexual Intercourse

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With God’s Help, Face and Resolve Conflict Just like Mary, Joseph and Jesus Did

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Downloadable Resources