Catholic Writers Conference Live registration is open

Registration is open for the Catholic Writers Conference Live!, running from July 31 - Aug 3 in Lancaster, PA. The latest information (calendar, events, speakers) will be available on the CWCL Conference page.

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From Our Blog

  • All Fathers Are Called to Be Warriors – Basic Training, Part Two

    Dennis McGeehan
    May 21, 2018 - 11:01pm

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    In an earlier blog post, I warned that experts — those with lots of letters after their name — can detract from the quality of your child’s life by trying to predict their future. I counseled that it is best if their reach exceeds their grasp. In other words, shoot for the stars for your child; if they only reach the moon, they are still further ahead than if their goal was only to climb the ladder to the tree house.

    Parents, too, can cause long-lasting harm to their child when they continually make excuses for bad behavior because their child has a disability.

    Let me be perfectly clear: a disability is not an excuse for bad behavior!

    When I say bad behavior, I mean harming others: hitting, kicking, biting, or throwing objects at others. Then there is spitting at others, cursing, lying about others, threatening others, and such. I have seen it, been on the receiving end of it, and had to deal with it eight hours a day, every workday, all year long. Believe me, it gets old fast!

    The patients I worked with were teenagers to adults, but outside of my work profession, I have witnessed it in five-year-olds. Their behavior is usually not inherent because of their disability, but rather it is learned. They display it to control their situation and the people around them. Their parents reinforce the behavior by acquiescing to their demands.

    When you work with large numbers of people with mental diagnoses, one fact becomes apparent: those who display aggressive behavior often do it judiciously. In other words, they choose their victims carefully. They will attack a person who is not allowed to retaliate, like a staff person, or someone who is unable to retaliate, as in a weaker person, but they avoid the people who will injure them in return. I have seen this among a group of people who all had IQs below 20. The situation is bad for those who are victimized by the aggressive behavior and is also bad for the attacker because their behavior can result in a miserable future.

    A hard truth all should understand is that if parents do not teach proper behavior, then the state, as in reform school or jail, will, and if not the state, then the street will teach the harshest lesson when they pick on the wrong person. There is always someone badder than you.

    Even non-aggressive behaviors can be problematic. Behaviors that are deemed cute for the two- or three-year-old become annoying when they reach six or seven, and possibly illegal as they age; an example would be hugging or kissing strangers. Teaching a child to high-five as a greeting can be fun when they are small, but a high five from a person in their prime can cause injury to another if not done with a sense of control.

    Teaching the concept of personal space is important, as is proper personal hygiene and the idea of privacy and modesty. For the child who is verbal, the issue of what are proper topics for discussion outside the confines of the family becomes an issue (older readers may remember the television show Kids Say the Darndest Things).

    Inappropriate behaviors of all types can be divided into those that are caused by the underlying root of the disability and those that are learned. Some behaviors that are inherent in the disability can be treated with medications or even diets like gluten-free or ketogenic. Also, interacting with those with disabilities requires education so as not to elicit undesired responses. Persons with autism or other mental illness may have triggers. But the learned behaviors rarely respond to medication treatment except when they are over-sedated and unable to function. This is not proper treatment.

    Parenting your special-needs child requires the same expectations placed on other children, except that the timeline for success is longer and the patience needed is greater.

    Don’t give up!

    Your child’s future opportunities hang in the balance.

The CWG Prayer

Holy Family, guide our minds, our hearts, our hands, as we write, speak, illustrate – help our words to live in union with the Word.

Teach us discipline and skill to use the talents God gives us.

Give us also insight and courage to convey God's love through our craft, and humility to be open to His divine will, shaping our lives, in loving loyalty to His Church.

In Christ's name,


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