child monk, daycare

Kids in Daycare Are Not Being “Raised By Strangers”

Last June, an article appeared on the National Catholic Register that denigrated daycare. Although it was titled “The Truth About Daycare,” it contained anything but truth. In fact, it was a poorly written article containing several blanket assumptions supported by misleading evidence (many of which were pointed out on the article’s post at NCR’s Facebook page).

What annoyed me the most about the article was the insistence that kids in daycare are being “raised by strangers.” I see this argument often, especially in Catholic Facebook groups. Each time I do my eyes roll so far back in my own head that I can see my brain, because that stance is both ludicrous and illogical. For example:

Unclear Metrics

Unless you take your kid to a new daycare every day, or you take your child to a center where turnover is unusually high (as in new employees are hired and fired on a daily or weekly basis), strangers aren’t raising your child. Instead, your child is forming close bonds with an adult who cares about him or her. Furthermore, even a stay-at-home parent isn’t engaging their child 100% of the time. A SAHP does housework, reads, visits with friends, grocery shops, brings their kids to playdates where they play with other kids, perhaps does volunteer work, blogs, gets into pointless arguments on Facebook about why they are superior to parents who work outside the home, etc. What’s the metric for gauging how much one-on-one time constitutes raising versus not raising? Is there a mathematical formula?

It’s Not Pro-Life

We want to foster a culture of life in this country, right? If so, we — as a Church — must stop denigrating daycare. As I said above, most single moms need to work to support their kids, and a lot of mothers who choose life, and choose to keep their children instead of placing them for adoption, must by necessity place their child in daycare so that they can support him/her. Yet so often Catholics say things like, “Mothers who put their kids in daycare are ruining them. Parents shouldn’t have kids if they’re just going to let them get raised by strangers.”

You know what a mother in a crisis pregnancy might think when she hears something like that? “Hmmm, maybe they’re right. Maybe my child would be better off dead than raised by strangers.”

Is Being “Raised by Strangers” Always a Bad Thing?

Are Catholics who talk snidely about people who let their kids be “raised by strangers” aware that their words could also refer to adoption? That’s basically the definition — handing your child off to a couple you don’t know, or don’t know well (strangers), to be raised. Yet adoption is an option championed in Catholic and pro-life circles. Isn’t this a conflicting message? Letting your child be “raised by strangers” is a wonderful, life-affirming option… unless you work full-time, in which case you’re destroying your children by placing them in daycare to be (allegedly) raised by strangers. What?

Do Catholic Schools Raise Children?

You’ll often hear Catholics singing the praises of giving your child a Catholic education by sending him/her to Catholic school. But wait a minute: if I send my child to Catholic school once s/he is five years old, isn’t that letting Catholic school teachers — i.e., strangers — raise my children? That’s the logical extension of the “daycare is raising your child” argument. (To be sure, there is a faction out there with the firm believe that all parents should homeschool.) But by and large I’ve found that the same Catholics who would criticize mothers for working full-time and sending kids to daycare have no problem with mothers sending kids to Catholic school full-time. Why the disconnect? Do children not need to be raised after the age of five? Last time I checked, my kids still had a lot of growing and learning to do after age five.

Do Only Mothers Raise Children?

I also wonder if people who make this statement have ever taken it to its logical conclusion. If it is the quantity of time that a parent spends with a child that equates to “raising” them, then logically only mothers raise their children. Fathers do not, since (presumably) the father is working 40+ hours per week and only sees his children evenings, weekends, and holidays. Yet Catholics speak about both parents raising their children, as does the Church. How can this be, if the mother is the only one doing the raising?

The Real Truth About Daycare

What this article, and those who share the author’s mindset do not realize is that a good daycare complements our parenting; it does not replace it.The article’s author seems to be under the impression that all daycares are government-run centers hellbent on indoctrinating young children with the vices of modernism and hedonism.

While a centers like the ones she envision may exist, they certainly aren’t like any of the ones I’ve had experience with, or have sent my children to in the past. She’s obviously never seen my kids’ current daycare, which is a home daycare run by a Mormon husband-and-wife team with four kids of their own. I know from experience that they share many of the same moral values that I do as a Catholic, and they’ve also been very respectful of our Catholic faith (just as I am respectful of their Mormon faith).

Their house is clean and neat (much cleaner than my house, for sure!). They have a huge playroom with lots of toys, and a big backyard with artificial turf and play equipment, plus a misting system for hot months. They take field trips, play games, and read stories with the kids. They provide two nutritious meals a day plus a snack in the afternoon. We’ve been with them since 2011, and they’ve cared for all six of my children, three of them since they were eight weeks old, and one since she was a year old. They’ve become good friends, and I feel blessed and reassured that my children are in excellent hands while I work to help support our family.

While discussing this article in the Catholic Working Mothers Facebook group, I asked for and received many testimonials from Catholic working mothers who had glowing reviews for their children’s daycares:

I’d love to introduce them to my center, Handicare, Inc. – founded by a woman who needed to work to afford medical care for her special needs child and couldn’t afford private care or find a center who had people skilled to manage her child’s disability. Sometimes life is complicated and you make the village you need; for every bad daycare story out there there are more that show it’s (properly used, funded and staffed) benefits particularly for children with needs outside the “norm.”

My 3 year old daughter literally RUNS down the hallway every morning to see her friends, and tells me all about centers and dressing up and playing outside and gymnastics when I get home. She LOVES the other kids in her class, is being socialized, is learning all about sharing and conflict resolution, and gets to do far more in a group setting than she would get to do if she was gone with me all day!

We love our daycare provider! She’s become like family. Whenever [my child] or I get sick she sends us home with home remedies. She also frequently sends me to work with pastries to eat with my coffee. [My child] loves his friends at daycare, he’s so good with other kids now, even though he’s still an only child. She also sends me photos all day long, which is the best.

My kids are in daycare, and you know what? It’s great! They are learning so much that I wouldn’t have thought to teach them yet. They are loved by the teachers and they love the teachers and the other kids. They are learning manners. They get nutritious meals and snacks. If I were to stay home at this time, we’d be scraping to make ends meet. We’d be eating beans and rice, rice and beans. There would be no trips to the zoo (like they do at daycare), they wouldn’t have the available educational toys because we wouldn’t be able to afford them. You know what else, without our daycare center, five women, none of whom have young children, would be out of work. Not to mention the other families in our center with single moms who are able to provide for their kids only because they can put their kids in daycare and go to work.

Our provider is Montessori and has helped us (first time parents – we know nothing!) instill respect, boundaries, and a loving attitude in our daughter. She absolutely LOVES her little “school” and happily kisses me goodbye each day and runs into her class with a smile on her face. They have a beautiful curriculum where our kiddo is able to grow and learn among her peers and understand how to interact with others. It’s been a true blessing in our lives and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Frankly, her daycare is doing a lot of things better than we would even know to do!

My son’s day care teacher loves him so much she offered to be our babysitter at home! She sends me photos of him throughout the week. I know he is being lovingly cared for. Also, because of day care, my son is a social butterfly at 15 months. He playswith other kids and shares. He is not shy or anxious around new people and is able to light up a room. He’s confident and funny, always trying to make people laugh even as a toddler.

My daycare provider is one of the kindest people I know. She considers herself an adopted grandmother to my son and loves him dearly. She has been a huge blessing to my family and my son lovingly asks her to come play with him even when he’s at home. She has attended his birthday parties and baptism (even though she is not Catholic). He is an only child but is learning how to be a big brother by being around a baby in her care. He is happy, well cared for, and loved. She will be coming over to help me while I am on maternity leave with my next baby. Though returning to work was hard, knowing that my son was going to her house to be cared for made it much easier.

Daycare early educator for 14 years. Exclusively infants and toddlers. I love my job, every single day. I love the kids, every single one, and I’m a huge advocate for doing what works for the family. (Nanny, family home, staying home, I’ve suggested all those things throughout the years) and I see it as my job to be a support for the family. My own kids started there and are now too old and they all have fond memories and lifelong friends because of it.

Sometimes daycare is a rocky road for us, but the lead teacher in my daughter’s room is amazing. She is so fun, she cares about every kid in there and teaches the curriculum our daycare provides well. Something I love most about daycare is my daughter is cared for by and is among other children in her class who are multi-racial. I love that she will grow with a positive view of cultures and skin colors that are different from ours. She would not have that from home!

I have two children who attend daycare. I am constantly amazed at the love and support the lovely ladies at my daycare provide my children. When I ask my two-year-old who his best friend is, he often tells me his teacher. In a world where so many children, teens and young adults are left without positive role models, I am grateful for this “village” to help provide my children with additional love and support in addition to their family. I know they are being emotionally cared for and I am grateful that my daycare provides an excellent learning environment to challenge them mentally as well as provide meals and a safe environment to care for them physically.

I met one of my adulthood best friends in daycare when we were two. She was present at my fifth child’s birth when my husband was too sick and taking care of our four sick children. We both have a set of twins. She is converting to Catholicism. We are linked forever and never would have known each other without daycare.

I don’t even know where to start. I found my daycare provider when my oldest daughter was two. She is now 8. She excels at school always gets the good Citizenship Award and has been asked to join the gifted talented program. She reads several grade levels above her grade and she has a vocabulary that beat even some adults I know.her 3 year old sister was also attends the same daycare, also has above-average verbal skills and at three and a half is able to write her own name. The daycare lady runs the daycare out of her own home; she is young and has never had her own kids. She is excellent with all the kids in her care and knows exactly how to meet the needs of each individual child. She also has a small farm and garden so the kids in her care are able to learn a little bit about those things. not sure if this is something I should really tell people haha, but my husband was nearly deported from this country and she willingly stepped up and wrote a letter to include in an immigration packet. I was also unreasonably investigated by CPS and she said that if the kids were taken away she would step up to be the foster parent. Thank goodness that was unnecessary. Even though I did not know her before she became my daycare lady and we do not socialize outside of our work relationship, I am very much considering asking her if she would be the guardian of my kids if anything happened to my husband and me. Her parents and in-laws also visit the daycare and treat all the kids like they were their own grandchildren.

We LOVE our daycare. We use Bright Horizons but I knew them prior to BH buying them because my nephew went there and I picked him up twice a week. When we had our daughter, it was a no brainer of where she would go. I have never felt bad about taking her there. I truly have felt like the staff loves my daughter and cares for her wellbeing. She is smart and learns so much there! More than I could ever do for her if I was home full time. I have received calls from them when she bumps her head or runs into another kiddo. I am never left in the dark about anything. I recommend it to all my friends who are looking because I truly feel it’s a safe and nurturing place that cares for all of us as a family. We just had a son and he will be going there. They made sure he will get the same lovely caregiver my daughter had. I don’t know what I would do without them in my corner.

I was just writing a letter to our daycare because at the end of the summer my younger son will start preschool. I’ve had kids in daycare for over four years and my experience has been so amazing. They both love going to “school” where they have music, outdoor play time, art, Spanish, and field trips. The teachers adore them and greet my boys with huge hugs every morning. My son told me the other day that his teacher is his “best friend.” When my older son started preschool he was way ahead of his classmates thanks to amazing teaching from our daycare — he already knew his letters and numbers and could write his name. Of course it is hard for a parent to leave a child, but I have nothing but positive things to say about the outcome!

My previous daycare provider was incredible. She made healthy organic food for all meals and played games outside all morning long and made crafts with the kids. She encouraged the kids to play together and to be kind. I felt that she and her assistant were particularly excellent in many of the areas where I was weakest, it was as though she filled in the gaps. My son adored her and the other children there. He was always so excited to go. I felt comfortable taking him and I still think that I was at my very best during that time. I was accomplishing so many good things for myself and others but most importantly for and with my son. He was so healthy and happy and I received daily reports on what he ate and did. I cried so much when we had to move and she and my son did too. My son was like another child to her. I was nervous about childcare but my experience with her was beyond my best expectations. We have a new place here that I think will be great as well. There are certainly some terrible places and situations out there but there are many incredible daycares as well, run by people who care deeply for our children. One reason my head daycare provider was so great was that she took her children to daycare so she did everything the way she wished it was when she took her kids. The other point worth making is how people with this anti-daycare view have such a limited understanding of the diversity of people. Women have talents and vocations outside the home just like men. It’s not just about needing to work but for some about wanting to fulfill a God-given desire. And their children are given to them by God, specifically for them. And children are all different. Some love daycare and some don’t but it can be beneficial. I once her another working mom, a professor with six children say the best way to describe it was to quote Eric Liddell from Chariots of Fire, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” And that can be in combination with motherhood.

My kids go part time to the parish preschool, which also provides summer care for my school aged child. It has our adoration chapel connected to it so we say “hi” to Jesus coming and going. they get access to the lovely Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Montessori based religious education. The teachers are sisters of mine through the Christ Renews His Parish retreat that we see at mass on Sunday. My children have access to outdoors, messy art, field trips, visit the school library, and have all sorts of fun while learning. They have a prayer table in their classroom. We are so blessed.

My oldest son went to an in home daycare until kindergarten. She and her day watched 5 other kids (including my daughter when she was born ). She was great! My parents and in-laws both moved to FL when my son was born. She was so sweet and gave great advice when I had panicky mommy moments. When my son started kindergarten we had to switch to a “regular” daycare for my then 3 y.o. daughter. It was great too! My kids are super social. They excel in school. I loved both of their daycare sand they did too!

I work at a community college. There is an childcare center on-campus and my children have attended the last four years. While breastfeeding my daughters, I was able to nursing my daughters during the day for their first year. It was awesome to visit her during the day and not have to pump the entire time I worked.

I found an at home daycare near my work that is owned by a devout Catholic grandma from Argentina. My kids learned quite a few words in Spanish. They are well cared for with good Latin food, naps and 5 playmates of various ages. They love her. Most of the other kids are her grandchildren, and my babies are treated as part of the family. We are even included in some family gatherings.

Our home sitter is absolutely wonderful!! We gave her permission to drive our little guy around so he can have the same type of experiences he’d have if he was home with me (changing the oil, going to the store, going to the park, etc). She loves him so much, as do her daughters, who even wake up early to play with him before school on days I’m picking him up early. She sends us pictures and videos throughout the day, too, so we can see what he’s doing. We couldn’t have a better experience!

Our daycare center does more than I would ever think to with our 11 month old son! He’s been there 5 months and loves it. I can come & visit him as I please. I nurse him on my lunch break, on one of my days off I actually got to do a “craft” with them (painting with food-dyed ice cubes). He is held, rocked, kissed, & loved on 9 hours a day two days a week. He gets to play outside, interact with other babies, and is exploring the world around him. I have to work for my family and it makes it so much easier knowing he is loved on as if he was with family at the center. When my son got a fever & they called me to pick him up, they emailed me to check up on him later that day! It’s more than I could ever ask for. Also, that article talks about “non-maternal” care. I’d like them to say the interaction my son has with his two daycare teachers not maternal, because they might as well be his aunts!

I know our kids learn so much more at daycare than they would if they were home with me. I am totally confident that my kids will be academically prepared for school when the time comes. Also, I am so thankful that they allow us to pull our kids out for the summer since my husband will be home with them (teacher).

I love our daycare. The staff and teachers are happy to be there and the students feed off of that. I know they love my boys as much as I do. My 4 year old has has stitches twice while there because he is crazy and reckless. Both times I have have come to get him after getting “the call” his teacher was sitting on the floor holding him in her arms. She left her class to be with him until I got there and held him as if it were her own son.

Our daycare is an in-home daycare that is run by a young “Grandma” that has a daycare just because she enjoys having children around. There are two other children (besides our two) that are there full time, and there are a couple of part-timers that are there at various times. My daughter has blossomed since having a consistent daily routine (rather than babysitters with odd hours). Both my son and daughter love her, as well as all the family that comes around–they are a traditional Mexican family with lots of extended family that visits frequently. They look forward to seeing her and the other children, freely give her hugs and kisses every day. It is obvious that she doesn’t need the money, and is doing it exclusively for the love of the children she cares for–we are very blessed!

My children went to a great daycare! My son was speech delayed barely spoke 5 words by age 2. Worked with the teachers at daycare that I still talk to and we came up with a plan to work with a log to write down new words so we could all repeat them. He was still delayed in reading til 5th grade but made honor role in his middle school years! Without the help of these daycare teachers who knows where my son would be academically?

My children have a sitter who treats them like they are her own. Every day she tells me and them how much she loves them. She take them to programs and play dates I never could and has the patience of a saint. Her own children are role models to my own. I wish I could be as good a mom as my baby sitter is! Also, my kids’ vocabulary is through the roof which I totally attribute to being around her children when they are not in school.

I love, love, love dropping my kid(s) off at the play area at the YMCA. They play, have fun, meet other kids, and I get to workout for 1-2 hours. It’s great for everyone! As far as daycares go, we used a friend for one, and I occasionally use our parish daycare. It seems to be okay, but I have to admit that I haven’t done much research. In all, I have probably used it 3 full days and 8 hours or so other than that. Since I work for our parish, I can get free daycare when working, so when I have to go to the diocese–2 hours away–and my friend cannot watch our youngest, I take her there. It’s only once or twice a month. Sometimes when I have tons to do, I’ll drop her in for a few hours. I would not ever be able to complete these two parts of my job without it! Plus, having it be free is the only thing that makes it possible to use it because, well, parish ministry isn’t a super-high paying field.

My DH is a sahd to care of my son. The article states non-maternial childcare. I take offense to that because it makes it seem like even a dad isn’t as good of a caregiver as a mom. I am a paramedic and had to go back to work at 6 weeks. I work 24 hour shifts so dad had to do all the feedings, diaper changes, bedtime routine every 3rd day. He is an amazing dad and I don’t think I could have done all that.

My son’s daycare discovered a developmental delay in our son. He had early intervention services and lots of help along the way and is now thriving in high school!

In closing, I can only echo the comments offered by Molly Walter on NCR’s Facebook page:

“The author could have used this as a platform to discuss how we as Catholics can strive to do better in the care of our children – perhaps better salaries for fathers so two incomes becomes less necessary in high cost of living areas, more Catholic based care centers, more work at home and flexible hour options or job sharing, etc., but instead she hit “publish” on this which offers little emphasis on support and understanding and leaves a lot of room to assume judgement underneath some very broad blanket statements. We can do better. Instead of announcing something like this is “always bad” and cast stones at thousands of families of various needs, abilities and backgrounds let’s take the time and the space to build constructive avenues of discussion to find ways to better support our wonderful Catholic families, to do as the Pope suggests and meet them where they’re at and offer true pastoral support and care.”

Coming Soon!

I’m nine weeks postpartum with baby #6 on earth, newly returned to work after maternity leave, and… feeling an itch to start blogging again?! (Yeah, I don’t get it either.) So, stay tuned for some new (and long overdue) content!

A Trumped-Up Apology

Donald Trump

This is going to be a political post. Originally I meant to keep this blog free of political discussion, but I think this is a subject that is important for Catholic women, especially Catholic women pro-lifers, so I am putting it here instead of my personal blog. If you are as sick of politics as I am, feel free to skip this post. But this needs to be said, in my opinion.

Today a story broke regarding an audio recording of Donald Trump making some appalling, misogynistic, sexually explicit statements. You can read about the controversy here if you have somehow been unaware of it until now.

Trump first issued a statement dismissing his comments as “locker room banter,” tried to shift blame on to Bill Clinton, and apologized if anyone was “offended” (I think we all can recognize that as a non-apology.) 

Ten hours later, apparently after he realized that this statement would not be sufficient to quell the very large public outcry instigated by his behavior, he released a second, longer “apology.” 

It’s sort of an apology… for saying words that he regrets. No apology for dehumanizing women, no acknowledgment that it’s wrong to dehumanize women, no acknowledgement that both sexual assault and adultery are wrong and that he was wrong for glorifying them. 

No apology from this alleged Christian for lusting after a woman in his heart, which constitutes adultery.

He only apologizes for the words he said, because he claims to regret them. But he doesn’t really explain why he regrets saying those words.

He makes no mention of the initial statement he released earlier in the day in which he tried to justify his words as mere “locker room banter.” (Bear in mind, he was a 60-year-old married man when he engaged in this “banter.”) 

So was that statement wrong? Was he lying to us in his earlier statement? If not, does it mean he’s lying in his second statement? Which one should we believe? He doesn’t say.

Then he tries to shift blame on to the Clintons, which he also did in the first statement. While I agree that Bill has also dehumanized women, and that both Clintons dehumanize unborn children, neither of them are claiming to campaign as pro-life candidates, as Trump does.

To be pro-life means that you recognize the inherent human dignity and worth of every person. That includes women. Treating women as objects for sexual pleasure, as Trump did (and still does) dehumanizes them. 

It is logically inconsistent to claim to be pro-life while dehumanizing human beings.

I’m going to repeat that, because this is important.

It is logically inconsistent to claim to be pro-life while dehumanizing human beings.

I am not surprised that the Clintons dehumanize human beings. They have always done so. They probably don’t think they’re doing so (oppressors usually don’t), but that doesn’t change the fact that they are. 

However, it is appalling on several levels that a candidate who has claimed to be pro-life since 2011 — who has reputedly hired a cadre of pro-life advisers (many of whom are faithful Catholics), and who just the previous day sent a letter to Catholics promising to defend the sanctity of life — cannot issue an adequate apology for his appalling behavior other than to say he regrets his words.

He makes a weak reference to wanting to be a better man, but otherwise he remains silent about the flagrant violations of human dignity that his “words” portrayed. 

This from a man who claims to be pro-life? Who claims to care about the inherent worth and dignity of unborn children? 

How can we trust him to care about the inherent worth and dignity of unborn children if he displays blatant disregard for the inherent worth and dignity of women?

I beg you, do not justify this. Do not downplay this. It does not matter that these specific actions happened eleven years ago. It does not matter that other people do this. It does not matter that other politicians do this. It does not matter that the Clintons are just as guilty. 

Trump claims to be a pro-life candidate, and if we as pro-lifers have any integrity at all, we will demand that he act like a pro-lifer. 

Stop making excuses for him. Stop saying that beating Hillary is more important then the integrity and credibility of our movement.

At the very least, we should demand a that he give a public and thorough apology for his words and his actions — an apology that actually demonstrates his understanding of the gravity of his actions as well as the evil that comes of dehumanizing other human beings. 

Ideally, we should demand that he withdraw from the race. Even if he truly is sincere in his desire to be pro-life — which I doubt, but let’s say he is for sake of argument — he is nowhere near mature enough in his understanding of human rights and human dignity to adequately defend the intrinsic worth and value of every human being from conception to natural death as President of the United States. 

Yes, this might mean that the GOP loses the presidential election, but frankly I think there is more at stake right now.

Movements die when corruption is allowed to infiltrate its ranks for the sake of political expediency. If we cannot root out the corruption in our midst, we have not only lost this presidential election, we have lost our integrity and our credibility. 

We cannot claim to respect the inherent worth and dignity of human beings if the person we choose to represent us in the White House regularly dehumanizes them. That is the quickest and most expedient way to end the pro-life movement as we know it. 

At this point, I care more about helping women in crisis and saving babies than I do about saving Donald Trump’s reputation.

Do you?

New Overtime Rules

time clock , overtime
Early time clock, made by National Time Recorder Co. Ltd. of Blackfriars, London at Wookey Hole Caves museum.

Attention U.S. working moms! If you make LESS than $47,476 annually and are classified as exempt (salaried), your employer will be required to pay you overtime as of December 1, 2016. (The previous threshold was a little over $27,000 annually.)

You can read more about these new regulations here, but here are some key takeaways:

  • If you’re already non-exempt, these new regulations will not affect you.
  • If you’re exempt but making over $47,476 annually, these new regulations will not affect you.
  • If you’re a teacher, lawyer, doctor, or in some other “learned profession,” these regulations will likely not affect you. (Sorry, teachers… ) It’s complicated how these exceptions are determined, but you can read more about that here.
  • The salary and compensation levels will be updated every three years in order to meet the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census region (currently the South).
  • No changes were made to the “duties test” to determine exemption.

Personally, I think this is a very good and long overdue move. Yes, it may be a an extremely difficult transition for some businesses, especially non-profits, and I sympathize with that. However, the alternative was allowing employers to use their employees as wage slaves. I’m sure there were a lot of businesses claiming that they couldn’t possibly be expected to cope or adjust when child labor laws were enacted, or when the original overtime laws were put into place, but both of those were sorely needed.

And because this is a Catholic blog, let me remind readers what Pope Benedict XVI had to say about the rights of workers in Caritas in veritate (emphasis mine):

No consideration of the problems associated with development could fail to highlight the direct link between poverty and unemployment. In many cases, poverty results from a violation of the dignity of human work, either because work opportunities are limited (through unemployment or underemployment), or “because a low value is put on work and the rights that flow from it, especially the right to a just wage and to the personal security of the worker and his or her family”[143]. For this reason, on 1 May 2000 on the occasion of the Jubilee of Workers, my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II issued an appeal for “a global coalition in favour of ‘decent work”’[144], supporting the strategy of the International Labour Organization. In this way, he gave a strong moral impetus to this objective, seeing it as an aspiration of families in every country of the world. What is meant by the word “decent” in regard to work? It means work that expresses the essential dignity of every man and woman in the context of their particular society: work that is freely chosen, effectively associating workers, both men and women, with the development of their community; work that enables the worker to be respected and free from any form of discrimination; work that makes it possible for families to meet their needs and provide schooling for their children, without the children themselves being forced into labour; work that permits the workers to organize themselves freely, and to make their voices heard; work that leaves enough room for rediscovering one’s roots at a personal, familial and spiritual level; work that guarantees those who have retired a decent standard of living.

It’s simply not just to require an employee to work more than 40+ hours a week without some kind of fair and equitable compensation, be it time-and-a-half for all hours over 40, or a higher salary. A person making only $30,000/year, which isn’t even enough to support a family in most areas of the country, shouldn’t be forced to work 60 hours a week (or more) on top of their paltry salaries. These regulations go a long way in correcting that injustice.

For those who are affected by the new rules, I predict one of two things will happen:

(1) Employers will raise the salaries of already-exempt employees to above $47,476 annually so that they remain exempt. This, I think, is the less likely scenario unless the employee in question is already very close to the salary threshold (for example, they already make $47,000 annually).

(2) Employers will limit the newly non-exempt employees to working only 40 hours per week, and they may require them to start tracking their hours. This could lead to less flexibility than the formerly exempt employees were accustomed to, but on the other hand, it should improve their work-life balance. They’ll have more hours to spend at home (or, if needed, working a second job to augment their low salary) while still earning the same amount of money.

As I previously said, these new rules don’t take effect until December 1, 2016, so employers have approximately six months to figure out a solution if they have affected employees.

Happy Feast Day and Anniversary!

stgianna

Isn’t the above picture great? One of these days I need to get around to ordering a portrait of St. Gianna from Portraits of Saints for my home. (What a great shop – I love their images!)

It’s the feast day of this blog’s patroness, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, and the one-year anniversary of the launch of this blog! St. Gianna, pray for us!

I haven’t been as prolific a blogger as I’d hoped (darn real life getting in the way), but our Facebook group is still going strong – we have over 1,300 members now – and I remember most days to post something to the blog’s Facebook page.

In other news, I discovered something tremendously exciting this morning. I’ve always wished that I knew about St. Gianna when I was confirmed in 2003 (she was “Blessed Gianna” at the time, as she wasn’t canonized until 2004), because if I had I would have taken her name as my confirmation name.

However, today being St. Gianna’s feast day, I was curious and decided to look up the etymology of her name. (BTW, shout out to two fantastic sites for name geeks — Behind the Name and Sancta Nomina.)

Guess what I found out? “Gianna” is another form of “Joanna”! I was named after my favorite saint, and one of the patronesses of working mothers, twenty-four years before she was canonized! Somehow, I don’t think that’s a coincidence (especially since family lore has it that my parents had another name for me in mind throughout my mother’s pregnancy, and only decided to name me JoAnna after I was born). Thanks, Holy Spirit!

 

Santa_Gianna_Beretta_Molla

Novena To Obtain Graces Through Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Today is Day 1 of the Novena to St. Gianna! Won’t you join me in prayer? The novena ends on St. Gianna’s feast day, April 28.

Santa_Gianna_Beretta_Molla

© José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / , via Wikimedia Commons

God, our Father, You have granted to Your church the gift of Gianna Beretta Molla. In her youth she lovingly sought You and drew other young people to You, involving them, through apostolic witness and Catholic Action, in the care of the sick and aged, to help and comfort them.We thank You for the gift of this young woman, so deeply committed to You. Through her example grant us the grace to consecrate our lives to Your service, for the joy of our brothers and sisters.

Glory be …

Jesus, Redeemer of mankind, You called Saint Gianna to exercise the medical profession as a mission for the comfort of bodies and souls. In her suffering fellow men and in the little ones, deprived of all support, she saw You.

We thank You for having revealed Yourself to this servant as “one who serves” and who soothes the sufferings of men. Treasuring her example may we become generous Christians at the service of our brothers and sisters, especially those with whom You deign to share Your Cross.

Glory be…

God, Sanctifying Spirit, who love the Church as Your Bride, You poured into the heart of Saint Gianna a share of Your Love so that she could radiate it in her family, and thus cooperate with You in the wonderful plan of creation, and give life to new children who could know and love You.

We thank You for this model wife and, through her encouraging witness, we beg You to grant to our families the serene and Christian presence of mothers committed to transform their homes into cenacles of faith and love, rich with generous activity and sanctifying service.

Glory be…

O God, Creator and lover of mankind, You were close to Saint Gianna when, affected by illness, she was in the painful dilemma of choosing between her own life and the life of the child whom she was carrying in herself, a gift long-awaited. Trusting You alone, and aware of Your Commandment to respect human life, Gianna found the courage to do her duty as a mother and to say “yes” to the new life of her baby, generously sacrificing her own. Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Jesus, and after the example of Gianna, inspire all mothers to welcome with love the sparkle of new life. Grant us the grace we are praying for …………. and the joy to find an inspiration in Saint Gianna who, as a model spouse and mother, after the example of Christ, gave up her life for the life of others.

Hail Mary…

77 Ways to Pray with Your Kids & The Little Flower – Book Reviews

77 Ways to Pray with Your KidsIf one of your Lenten commitments this year is to pray more with your kids, or to pray more as a family, then I have a wonderful resource to share with you.

77 Ways to Pray with Your Kids by Jerry Windley-Daoust, and published by Peanut Butter and Grace Media, is an excellent resource for families of all shapes and sizes.

It has suggestions for incorporating different spiritual practices into your family prayer life, labeled by age-appropriateness. The three categories are ages 3+, ages 7+, and ages 13+.

3+ are practices that are appropriate for children between the ages of 3 and 6.

7+ are practices that are appropriate for children between ages 7 and 12.

13+ are practices that are appropriate for teenagers.

Many suggestions are appropriate for all three age groups, but it’s handy to to have a quick guide so you can tailor certain practices to certain ages. I also love that some practices are marked with an “E” for “easy” — meaning that they’re simple to implement without any prior preparation!

There are also short “talking points” included with many of the suggestions, such as “Why do Catholics Pray Before Sacred Images?” and “Why We Pray for the Dead.” These paragraphs provide brief, child-appropriate suggestions for many points of Catholic doctrine, which make them invaluable for the parent who struggles with how to distill deep theological concepts down to child-appropriate nuggets of wisdom, especially minutes before bedtime after a long, tiring day.

If you’re new to family prayer, and/or new to the Catholic faith, the book includes a compendium of common Catholic prayers, such as the Angelus, the Hail Mary, the Mysteries of the Rosary, and many others.

 

The Little Flower by Becky ArganbrightAlso from Peanut Butter and Grace Media is The Little Flower, a parable about St. Thérèse of Liseux by Becky Arganbright. I bought two copies as Christmas presents, one for my 5-year-old daughter and one for my 3-year-old goddaughter, and the book was a BIG hit with both girls (in fact, my goddaughter’s older sisters, as well as my older daughter, were just as excited about the book as the recipients were!). The artwork is gorgeous, and the story is simple yet profound. It’s a lovely retelling of St. Thérèse of Liseux’s “little way.”

This book would make a terrific addition to any child’s Easter basket, or as a First Holy Communion/Confirmation present. It’d also be a wonderful gift for a baptism. You can view a PDF copy of the book on their website (scroll down to the red box at the bottom) if you’d like to see it before you buy, but as a satisfied customer I can highly recommend the hardcover version.

As an added bonus, St. Thérèse of Liseux’s parents are the newly-canonized St. Louis and Zelie Martin. St. Zelie is one of the patron saints of working mothers, as she worked as a lacemaker prior to and during her marriage. In addition to teaching your children about this wonderful saint, you can teach your children about her mother!

Christmas Reminisces

This is an “off-topic” post, but I was reminiscing about my favorite Christmas gifts the other day, and I thought it would be fun to share.

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The first gift I remember being absolutely thrilled at receiving was given to me when I was 6 or so. I think it was from my grandparents, although one of them might have been from my parents, too. I was given a Peaches N Cream Barbie doll and a Barbie Corvette.

Peaches and Cream Barbie, circa 1985
Peaches and Cream Barbie, circa 1985

 

Silver Barbie Corvette, circa 1985
Silver Barbie Corvette, circa 1985

I never expected to get both a Barbie AND a Barbie car for Christmas, and I was over the moon with delight. The Barbie came with a little top that you could spin to decide how she was going to wear her little scarf/boa thingie – there were multiple ways you could arrange it. I thought it was the coolest Barbie ever. (I also got a Day to Night Barbie at some point, although I can’t remember if she was a Christmas gift or a birthday gift. Check out her briefcase and calculator!)

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When I was 9 or so (I think I was in 4th grade), my parents gave me a box set of the entire Anne of Green Gables series.

anne of green gables box set
All 8 of the Anne books. I think it was this exact set.

Bear in mind that this was in Ye Olden Days – before the Internet – and up until that Christmas I’d had no idea that there were any books beyond the first two, which my mother owned – I’d actually found them at a rummage sale and bought them for her, since we’d enjoyed watching the Anne of Green Gables movie together. I read them too, and adored them. Apparently I’d never read the last few pages of each book, where the entire series was listed. I’d somehow never seen them at the library, either — or maybe our elementary school library only had the first two, I’m not sure.

At any rate, I opened up this box on Christmas Day and was absolutely delighted. I was done with presents at that point – I immediately opened up the box and started reading Anne of the Island, and was lost in glorious prose for days thereafter.

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My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up. We always had the basic necessities but there wasn’t a lot left over. So, while my older brother, younger sister, and I lusted after a Nintendo, all three of us knew it wouldn’t happen. We contented ourselves with occasionally renting a system from the video store, or playing it at our friends’ houses.

Then, one Christmas when I was 11 or so, the unbelievable happened. We got a Nintendo for Christmas.

The original Nintendo Entertainment System
The original Nintendo Entertainment System

When we opened it, I’m pretty sure you could have heard our screams of joy across town.

As it turned out, our parents had found it at a video rental place/furniture store (yes, that happened in small towns) that was going out of business, and had managed to buy one of their rental Nintendos very cheaply, plus several games to boot. My siblings and I didn’t care a bit that it was secondhand; we were thrilled beyond words just to own one. That Nintendo gave us a lot of joy over the years.

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My husband proposed to me on December 17, 2000, so of course my engagement ring is one of the best (early) Christmas gifts I’ve ever received! His birthday is December 24 to boot.

What about you? What were your favorite Christmas gifts?

Back from Hiatus

Apologies for the unintentional hiatus! Long story short, I had a stressful deadline to meet at work, compounded by another pregnancy and miscarriage (you can read more about that at my personal blog). Unfortunately I had to put writing low on my priority list. I hope to get back in the swing of things this week.

 

The Job of a Mother

Have you read this news story about the advertisement that has had many working mothers in an uproar?

If not, here’s the ad in question. It was sent out by a real estate firm, Costello & Costell0, in Issaquah, WA.

costello and costello real estate ad working mother

Offensive, isn’t it?

The back is even worse:

costello and costello real estate ad working mother

But frankly, I was even more offended when I read the “apology” that the Costellos issued. It said,

There are thousands of professional agents working in our area who are also dedicated mothers, including several members of our team. Our original hope with this message was to show the value of having a full-time agent in a competitive market, but we completely failed. We have the upmost [sic] respect for moms and working mothers, and we know that the job of a mother is far more demanding than what we do as real estate professionals. Again, we are truly sorry.

It was this line that made me grind my teeth: “we know that the job of a mother is far more demanding than what we do as real estate professionals…”

They entirely missed the point as to why their ad was so offensive.

I wasn’t offended by this ad because I thought they undervalued the job of a mother. I was offended by this ad because it very strongly implies that a mother can’t successfully run a business out of her home if she also has small children. It’s a slap in the fact to mothers who DO work hard, every day, to succeed as a mother and a businesswoman. It’s a giant middle finger to all the mothers who stay up late and get up early so they can devote hours to their businesses while the kids are still asleep. It’s a rude “F— you” to the mothers who do hire babysitters, or depend on relatives or spouses, or even their older kids, so they can attend meetings or perform other client-facing activities.

The Costellos didn’t devalue the job of a mother. They devalued a woman’s ability to be a success at more than just motherhood, and they implied that only people (or perhaps just men, apparently) who are able to devote 40+ hours outside the home can be a success at their jobs. They also seem to be under the impression that women who run a business from home only work “part-time.” What about the moms who work early mornings, late nights, and many weekend days — often putting in 40 hours a week (if not more) to their businesses, while using the daytime hours to cook, clean, run errands, change diapers, etc.?

These mothers work hard so that they can give their best to their clients and their families, and I’m willing to bet they work harder to do it than two guys in fancy suits with cushy offices, who (I’m willing to bet) never have to give a second thought to who is watching their children while they’re working. Based on the bright idea they had to run this ad, I’m guessing they either have no offspring at all, or they have spouses utterly devoted to the 24/7 care of their children. Working moms by definition don’t have the former circumstance, and hardly ever have the latter luxury (the vast majority of working moms with whom I am acquainted having spouses who work full-time as well).

Kids are expensive. Daycare is expensive. Both facts are why so many mothers have attempted to find a source of income that doesn’t require them to pay for daycare yet still contributes to the family finances. And there may be some mothers as caricatured in the ad who only make a halfhearted effort to make their businesses succeed. But in my experience, working moms who set out to run a business out of their home pour their heart and soul into it, and make an effort to give their clients the best work that they have, while also making sure that their children don’t suffer as a result.

It’s an exhausting life to live, but many mothers do it anyway, because they don’t have the luxury of being able to choose to parent full-time or earn money for their families – they have to do both just to be able to afford the basic necessities. And what doesn’t help is when companies like Costello & Costello seek to denigrate and disdain the work that they do. Perhaps they should reconsider their (ungrammatical) apology and start supporting working mothers instead of insulting them.