My dear friend, MaryRuth Hackett, with whom I’ve worked for nearly four years over at Blessed is She is . . . a podcaster!! She has a PhD in Psychology and just so much wisdom on parenting. I’ve tapped into that knowledge for years and now you all can hear her thoughts, too! Such a gift.
It launches October 2. You can tune in here.
In the meanwhile, read this little interview I did with her to get you as excited as I am.
1) Dr. Hackett, how did you come up with the idea of the title of your podcast?
We had a great brainstorming session at the dioceses one day with the soul purpose of finding a fabulous title. Parenting Smarts is just perfect for the podcast because we not only talk about the brainy-research side of parenting – that is what the research on child development says about best practices, but we also talk about the realities of how hard parenting is. Parenting hurts sometimes. Smarts has two meanings – both referring to the intellectual AND referring to the pain involved sometimes in parenting.
2) Now you have not only an advanced degree in educational psychology, but also are a parent yourself! Can you tell us a little about how your education has impacted your parenting?
One of the comments I would get each semester I taught a Human Development class, was “I wish I knew this when I was raising my children.” Having a basic understanding of how children develop gives us such a different perspective. I love knowing which aspects of raising my children are universal and which aspects are unique to my specific child, children, or household. We all struggle with so many of the same issues. In my podcast I try to address those issues in parenting which are universal, but also talk about the ways we have responded to those situations. I also am not afraid of the research. When I get really stumped with some aspect of raising my children my husband frequently says “what does the research say on this?” I love being able to delve into the research and take a parenting less emotional and more cognitive approach. My background really has given me a comfort with that that more cognitive approach which helps balance my natural tendency to react emotionally.
3) Now the inverse question! Which things could you just *not* learn from the books? What’s been most surprising or revealing to you about yourself as you and your husband journey along as parents?
Oh man. I am shocked at how HARD it is. At every stage. It is so hard. And it doesn’t seem to get easier as they get older–you just get used to how hard it is! I also wasn’t prepared for how deep my love for them could be. I am surprised by how mad I can get but also how quickly I can forgive them.
4) If you could impart one nugget of information to the new parent, what would it be? I’m talking about the folks with a small baby who are sleep deprived and overwhelmed by all the resources out there?
I would say You Aren’t Alone! And if you feel alone then you need to start to build your tribe. You need to surround yourself with women who share the same values and goals that you have for your family. They will help support and bolster you in the coming years. Also, as hard as raising children is, you need to make sure you are making your marriage a priority. It is easy to let the needs of the children distract you from your marriage. Your spouse has to be prioritized above your children.
5) Lastly, what do you see as the parents role in their child’s faith formation as they age? Does it get harder to keep their faith alive the older they get? Give us allllllll the wisdom!
This is such a huge question but I will try to give my short answer… The foundation for your child’s faith formation is going to happen before they even get to middle school. By age 11 they pretty much have decided if their faith is important or not. You can not wait until they are older to start going to mass, or start praying, or start living out the gospel as a family. You need to do it now. It needs to be part of your family culture.
Saint John Paul II said “Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love.”
Faith formation happens in the context of the family, but it isn’t a matter of just doing all the right things. You have to do all the right things and love abundantly while you do them. If you don’t have love at the center, you are just a religious hypocrite and you will actually separate your children from the faith. Your job as a parent is to help your children grow up knowing how to give and receive love, and how to prayerfully discern God’s will in their lives.
You can’t teach that in the same way that you teach them how to pray the rosary or how to memorize scripture. Knowing how to give and receive love is taught by example. You have to model that life for them. Teaching them that God is the source of all love–well those lessons occur through daily living and daily conversations.