Striving for Peace and Joy in the Family

THE Catholic faith, with its richness of tradition and understanding of the scriptures, is a great resource to pass on to our children.

I’ve come to realise the best opportunity to pass on the faith to our children is seizing small teachable moments in our everyday life.

I had such an opportunity when my five-year-old was wreaking havoc on the peace of our home. 

Her disruption and yelling was hurting everyone.

The other siblings were struggling to get close to her.

I felt helpless about what else I could do as a parent with her.

I recalled some basic Christian community teaching from being on a National Evangelisation Team in 2002, where it is taught that being “at peace” with each other is fundamental to Christian living.

I decided that enough was enough. 

So drawing on this practical training given to me 13 years ago I concluded that my daughter already knew her behaviour was wrong.

It was a matter of her heart needing to grow up.

Half the battle is trying to find the best way to inspire our children to grow up of their own volition – like that old saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.”

I asked my older children, a 10 year old and a seven year old to tell me how their younger sibling’s behaviour was affecting them.

They had simple and honest insights into the hurt that was being caused. 

I discerned that it was safe to let them share this experience together.

This is how it played out.

Miss Five sat on a small chair in the lounge room; she was relaxed. 

We all sat easily on the lounge around her, so we made a circle.

I asked each sibling to say how they were feeling about their sibling. 

Miss Five listened attentively to the first sharing. 

She responded quickly with a gentle, “I’m sorry”.

My oldest son said how he felt – it was quite emotional for him to share.

He explained that his experience of his younger sister’s behaviour was making him feel like she didn’t like him and wanted him to go away. 

All these strong feelings of hurt and rejection were brewing under the surface.

I was relieved to hear all these troubles come into the light.

My youngest daughter showed so much softening in her disposition and she approached each of us with a big hug of peace and love. 

The spiritual fruits of peace and joy were tangible.

It is written in Ephesians 5:13 that “… everything exposed by the light becomes visible, and everything that is illuminated becomes a light”. 

I was overjoyed that together the children could safely share their feelings together. 

I know I will do my best to live in the light, but it’s another thing to keep inspiring this in my children.

We can get so caught up in routine that we can lose sight of what anchors us, our faith and our relationships. 

I still feel honoured to have had experienced this with my children.

Mother Teresa has a well-known quote that inspires me every day: “If you want to promote world peace … Go home and love your family.” 

Making peace comes in many shapes and sizes. 

At each age and stage of a child’s development peace is made in a different way.

Even a small wakeful infant can disturb the peace. 

We are forever called upon to be the grown-up and be the first to make peace.

We really have to work with the ever-changing raw material in front of us and the opportunities that arise and discern if it is the best timing to teach, to learn and to grow together.

We also need to remember that it’s not meant to be all work.

Pope Francis recently challenged families with this: “Parents, can you waste time with your children? It is one of the most important things you do each day.”

Although confrontation is not my preference, it is necessary for me and all parents to choose a way that is not always comfortable to teach our children these most important principles in life – to strive for peace.

By Carrie McCormack

Carrie and her family