By Sophie Barcant, BA (Psyc), B.ED. Trainer, Facilitator, Parenting Coach/Consultant
When my fifth child, the fifth boy, was a newborn baby, all of 23 years ago, I learnt what grace was.
My husband was on a business trip for several days and I happened to not have any domestic or relatives’ help for that time either. The older boys at the time were 11, 9, 6 and 4 years old.
And I coped perfectly, alone!
I did not normally cope that well even when my husband and helper were around. I know that I was supported by a divine force; there was no way I could humanly cope with getting all those boys to do what they were supposed to do and stay calm and sane with my own strength.
It was school time and there were lunch kits, extracurricular and homework to contend with. Not to mention the trips, meal preps, laundry and all that goes with running a home. And managing a newborn!
Divine grace carried me. It poured over me like honey. I recall feeling it as if it were yesterday. To my mind this was pure grace, and it is available for everyone.
Many, many a time, over the years, I sat in front the Blessed Sacrament uttering two words to Our Lord, in utter desperation, lost for answers and strength: “I need”, “I need”, “I need”. “Pleeeeeez Help”!
The boys used to fight and not listen. I totally lacked skills to manage the sibling rivalry and the ignoring of many of my requests. I asked for divine inspiration on how to manage the children and I know that I was graced with ideas, directly in my mind, or I was led to very wise parenting books, articles, talks and seminars.
I remember feeling very upset with myself as my parenting style was quite harsh at times, with shouting, screaming, threatening to give licks, and giving the slaps occasionally.
I hated that part of myself. I felt so powerless, so desperate to get them to obey and do the right thing. Walking up to Communion one day, I was inspired to ask Our Lady, also a mother, for help specifically for the power of the Holy Eucharist to burn the harshness out of me. This became a norm for me, at every Mass I attended.
After several months of praying this, I noticed myself being calmer. My prayer had been totally and completely answered. I got even more calm, at another level when an amazing very effective, parenting programme came my way, the ‘Becoming a Love and Logic Parent’ programme.
The seminar was held in my area and the skills taught were easy to implement. I listened to the entire programme on tape and cassettes over and over in my car. I rewired my brain with new techniques on how to manage the children, and, over time, my family was transformed.
The children understood their limits, became more respectful, responsible, motivated, and fun to be around. Spanks, shouts, and empty threats ceased. It was amazing.
I wish these graces for all parents. A favourite verse of mine is a promise: “Delight yourself in the ways of the Lord and He will grant you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37: 4).
I urge every parent to spend time seeking God, to maintain a relationship with the Holy Trinity, praying and praising. Jesus said: “Ask and you shall receive.” There is no way that your petition asking God for help to be more loving and devoted to Him can be ignored by Him. I think it is one of the most noble, purest requests anyone can have.
He said, “Ask and you shall receive” (Matt 7:7). It is an invitation to be in a better relationship with Him and that is what the entire message of the Bible and Christianity is about…. Having a relationship with God, which leads to loving better, serving and salvation. “Behold I stand at the door and knock”
He can help us in our parenting. The Holy Spirit can inspire you directly with ideas, but it means being “Still and knowing that He is God” (Psalm 46:10). Listening, withdrawing from noise, in prayer, meditation and contemplation is how we connect best to access His inspiration.
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL these things shall be added onto you” (Matt 6:33). This is another promise that when we seek Him first, we SHALL be blessed with the time and resources we need to live out His will.
I give eternal glory and thanks for the protection, guidance, and inspiration He has given directly to me, and graces to cope and overcome the storms thus far. There are more to come; I am still facing challenges that I do not know how to deal with, so I continue seeking with expectant faith “Lord I need, I need, I need”. And thank You for hearing my pleas.
May you seek and find the greatest gift EVER this Christmas, the Great Helper promised to us the Holy Spirit, who can guide you towards being the parent you know you need to be for your children, for them to grow into the responsible, caring, virtuous adults you dream of. Give yourself and your family this gift now, “Come Jesus, come; come Holy Spirit, come”.
Have a blessed and Christ-centred and Holy Christmas.
Follow Sophie’s parenting approaches drawn from Love and Logic and Positive Discipline on www.sophiesparentingsupport.com, FB and Instagram. For personal coaching, contact:firstname.lastname@example.org