Full disclosure: I have been provided some free, limited access to various episodes of this program, in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid sponsorship, but I have agreed to become an affiliate of this program, because I believe in the potential for positive change in family lives, in order for a small stipend (similar to a finder’s fee) for any videos sold through my promotional discount code (offered at the bottom of this article).
If you’ve followed me as a blogger for any length of time, you’ll know I am a parent of several small children. My oldest is six years of age; the youngest just turned one. If you’ve ever explored my “About Me” section, you’ll also know I hold a Masters of Social Work degree, and have a few thousand clinical hours under my belt. And, I desire to raise my children to be “happy and holy kids,” not just one or the other.
As I came back to the Church with my oldest child leading me by the hand, I noticed that my clinical skills in the secular workforce had been inadvertently shaped and molded by my personal, underlying Catholic beliefs in the value and sanctity of life, and the inherent dignity of all individuals, regardless of their abilities or, in a more counter-cultural perspective, regardless of their age. In fact, as much as I quip I fought God on His call to become a social worker, as I sit a little wisened to my Faith, I now recognize He was using my social work degree to gently call me back to Him.
One of my least-favorite questions when I was in the field as a social worker was, “Well, are you a parent?” It was usually the perfect time to unfold underlying reservations the parents had for my proposed technique/s. And, looking back on my pre-child days and my clinical work, the only thing I would change today would be the guidance of “cry it out” at bedtime. No amount of theory or philosophy classes on childhood development would have prepared me to experience, and decide to discard, the cry it out technique from my little ones.
Overall, though, I think I’m headed in an okay direction if I wouldn’t change anything aside from that advice. For more on my parenting philosophy, check out this piece from my archives.
Sections 2224, 2225, and 2227 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church reads,
The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.
Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith for which they are the “first heralds” for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church. A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one’s life.
Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents. Each and everyone should be generous and tireless unforgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it.
At the end of the day, my parenting approach utilizes secular and faith-based philosophies which (try to) uphold the esteem, dignity, and value of each of my children. While I have a pair of lungs on me that often sees me embroiled in self-doubt of my parenting skills, at the end of the day, like most parents I have been blessed to meet (and work with), I am trying my hardest to always do better and be better for my own children.
I am a skeptic of all offers I get through my blog. I am also wary when it pertains to parenting – not because I believe I am a parenting expert, but rather because I know my approach is borderline attachment parenting, which goes against the grain of many secular parenting techniques. However, I also am more of an “independent” Catholic parent, knowing that I am doing for my family what feels and seems best, and may also at times run counter-cultural to what other Catholic parents may deem best.
So, I immediately was doubtful when I received an e-mail from Evango’s “Me & My House” promotional team, offering me limited access to some of their episodes, in exchange for an honest review of their Catholic-based parenting program.
Hosted by Patrick Sullivan, a Catholic evangelist based in Canada, the goal as stated by Mr. Sullivan is, “to help just one family.” In one trailer, he noted one routine question he faced was whether there was a way to raise “happy, holy kids,” while facing the secular burdens of society, and balancing that with the Church teachings. Drawing on experience both teaching in a school setting, and parenting in the home, Mr. Sullivan, and his team at Evango applied their research and developed a curriculum for parents to apply both faith-based and secular parenting techniques in a manner that will hopefully raise those “happy, holy” children.
The first thing I noticed about the curriculum I viewed was that the entire presentation was in stark contrast to the parenting videos I have watched for hours at length as I would work on preparing for parenting sessions with clients. The videography is top notch, the children’s clothing is up to date, and it’s apparent that these aren’t videos produced in the 70s.
As odd as those observations may sound, it immediately gave a little more credibility to the speakers, simply because I know they, as parents, are struggling through the exact same struggles that I am in my own home. They understand the dynamics between allowing television time or video games, with balancing the prayer time that we are trying to instill. The speakers understand the difficulty in encouraging the children to “simply” go play at the playground, rather than being holed up in the house watching the latest and greatest television series with their friends. And, the speakers understand the demands parents face, trying to balance careers and caring for their children.
I also appreciated the tone of the script. Each episode I was privy to viewing featured Mr. Sullivan as the speaker. I am unsure whether or not he and his wife appear on screen to have a balancing act of “this is how Dad approaches…” versus, “this is how Mom approaches…” But, at no time during any of the episodes was I made to feel “less than” as a parent. There are a lot of shame-based parenting scripts out there – those scripts that imply a parent is solely to blame for their child being unruly, etc. are rampant. And, in the episodes I viewed, I did not feel as though I would be judged for my selected parenting techniques and philosophies.
Instead, I felt as though there was a camaraderie – a feeling as though he is in the proverbial trenches with me, rather than fighting against my approach to parenting. In the episodes I viewed, Mr. Sullivan wasn’t interested in laying blame; rather, he was interested in cultivating and deepening his viewer’s intentionality toward parenting.
What does “intentionality toward parenting” mean?
Simply, Mr. Sullivan was interested in encouraging parents to be more intentional – not just in their words, thoughts, and prayers, but also in their interactions with their children. His demeanor was empathetic to the plight of all parents balancing that precipice of living fully in a secular society, and building one’s own exiled “Benedict option” style community.
As their first trailer reminds us, “Salvation begins in the home.” And, the episodes I had the pleasure of viewing truly emphasized that message, and provided encouragement that we, as parents, will be able to raise our “happy, holy kids.”
Salvation begins in the home.Patrick Sullivan
As a whole, I found this series extremely well put together. If I ever re-join the work force as a Catholic clinician, and am able to work in a supportive and collaborative role with parents, I would not hesitate to use this curriculum with parents. It is that good! With an added benefit of having received a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur in 2018, it is guaranteed to be free of moral and doctrinal error in regard to Catholic Church teaching.
However, I personally felt it to be rather basic in regard to instruction. Many of the ideas, tips, tricks, and techniques were (and are) ones I use on a regular basis. However, given the audience, it is fully understandable that some of the material is basic – it’s meant to reach all levels of parenting.
I have found myself in a duty location where I have felt extremely lonely as a parenting team because our family’s focus has been equally on the spiritual side of parenting, as well as the education and sport side of parenting. And, as basic as this program felt, I felt empowered that the techniques I use, and the priorities and emphasis I place on faith-based activities are not “weird.” Rather, the simplicity of this program reminded me that the beauty (and, yes, gray hairs) I find in my parenting role is worth time and effort I place in not just sending my kids to school or daycare, but also in “fighting the good fight” of attending Mass every weekend, and encouraging (ahem, forcing at times) the nightly prayers, or the apologies one child owes another when playtime gets too rough, or unkind words are spoken, or when tempers get the better of any of us.
I felt empowered that the techniques I use, and the priorities and emphasis I place on faith-based activities are not “weird.”
I would also have liked to see the parenting team, both husband and wife together, in some of the modules – but, I acknowledge Mrs. Sullivan may make appearances in some of the other modules that I have not viewed (point discussed a little further down). My situation is a little different than those in the production team, in that my husband is not Catholic. Because of that, it would be nice to have the input of how Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan embrace their roles as father and mother, and what that looks like in relation to the inherent gifts and qualities both sexes offer in their respective parenting roles.
I am excitedly waiting for the accompanying Leader’s Guide and Participant’s Book to order a complete course set for personal use. The participant’s guide will hopefully be available this summer, with the leader’s guide scheduled to be released later. However, I was provided a sneak peak of the participant’s guide, and I truly believe it will be helpful and beneficial to guide group discussions, especially if a parish wanted to implement a faith-based parenting program during their children’s religious education classes.
Finally, from the perspective of someone who is running the Catholic Religious Education department for my Catholic community, I can also say that I have strongly considered purchasing this set and using it to encourage parents of the students in my religious education program to go a little against the grain, to live a little counter-culturally, and to step up the faith-based portion of parenting. This DVD set can be used in a home with just a couple, in sessions with parents working on enhancing their parenting skills, for individuals looking to add more tools to their parenting toolbox, and finally, in group sessions to encourage the community life of Christian living and being Christian witnesses. I would also love to be able to attend a speaking engagement featuring Mr. Sullivan, who travels all over North America giving lectures about raising “happy, holy kids,” in an increasingly secular world.
The DVD set, by itself, is currently available and sold for $160. From my limited access to the content, I truly believe it would be worth every penny. Furthermore, while I had limited access to the content, it was because the entire DVD set (with all the modules) offers over five and a half hours of content, and with my limited time these days, it would have taken me months to complete a timely review of the material! The digital download also sells for $160.
As a thank-you for reading through this and choosing to purchase this set, I can offer my loyal readers $15 off a DVD set, if you use the code CAMO at checkout.
I am eager to follow this program, and to hear how the program assists Catholic parents in focusing on their secondary vocation of raising, “happy, holy kids.”
And, if you would like to check out more information about Patrick Sullivan and his ministry, head on over to his YouTube channel, “Evango,” and check out the various videos he has available to viewers.
Have you found a faith-based parenting program which offered you encouragement, validity, and offered insights which were beneficial to you? I’d love to hear below!