dudich_judySaint Francis De Sales said, "Do not wish to be anything other than what you are, and try to be that perfectly". How often we remind our children that they mustn't succumb to peer pressure. We teach them to celebrate their uniqueness, and to choose their actions according to their accountability before God, not man. We teach them that we must not change "who we are" to suit others, or to gain acceptance by a particular group of people...This is all sound and good advice...so why don't WE follow it?

As Catholic moms, many of us are suspended in a sort of  "self-barrage" which  perpetually compares ourselves to others, both in our Faith and secular environment;  thereby using that comparison to judge our own worth and success. When alone with our families, we are strong in our convictions, we are strong in our decisions, we are strong in our chosen lifestyles, and we are basically satisfied with the WAY in which we carry those things out each day.

However, as soon as we find ourselves in the company of others...our self-doubt begins! We hear that so-and-so's children arise each day at 5:30 a.m. to do the farm chores BEFORE lessons, and immediately we think  "Oh my, I am letting the children sleep in far too long each morning". Or, we hear that so-and-so's husband comes home from work early three days a week to teach Chemistry and History in a homestudy program and we think, "Oh my, I must find a way to get my husband more involved in our lessons". When we have contact with relatives or acquaintances whose children are educated in a different manner from ours (whether that means "homeschooling", "public school", or "private school") the ugly head of self-doubt rears its head even more. IN OUR SOULS, we KNOW that we have chosen what is best of OUR family so that each member may have the greatest opportunity to reach his or her fullest potential as a child of God in this world. Unfortunately, as soon as we hear about the elaborate lab projects of our nieces and nephews, or so-and-so taking ALL AP classes and getting a full scholarship to an IVY LEAGUE school, or playing as the starting forward on the AAA championship basketball team, we think, "Oh my, have we chosen the wrong school? Are my kids missing these opportunities? Is that district better than ours? Should we MOVE?!?" etc…

The truth is:  All of these thoughts are SELF-IMPOSED. We are guilty of "saying one thing and doing another". Instead of rejoicing in others' talents, gifts, or opinions...we take those things as a perceived threat to our abilities in our own vocation. Most likely, our children are perfectly CONTENT in our their lifestyle. The issues are our OWN perceptions caused by self-doubt and brought about by our lack of TRUST in our own discernment of God’s holy will in our daily family lives.

Let us rejoice in God's promise to "make up where we are lacking"...let us take courage in His Word that His "strength is made perfect in our weakness"....and let us BELIEVE that if He has called us to this life then IT IS THE RIGHT ONE FOR US! We need only BE WHO WE ARE, and BE THAT THE BEST THAT WE CAN!

Each family is different, and yet ALL families are loved and guided by a good and gracious Father in Heaven. We must learn to do that which we try to inspire our children to do! Stop looking to others for our validation, self-worth, measure of success, or lifestyle choices.

Whatever your morning routine is, whatever form of education you have chosen for your children, however your spouse is involved (or not)....if you have centered your home in CHRIST JESUS...seeking to carry out His will whole-heartedly...THEN REST IN HIS ASSURANCE that you are doing it EXACTLY the right way for YOUR FAMILY.

A periodic review of our "system" and our schools is a good thing for we always have room for improvement and growth. But these thoughts are meant to encourage you to let the driving force of that review come from yours and your spouses unified communion with GOD. Let your assessment arise from prayer, discussion, and from study and discernment, NOT from what you THINK you see in others, or what you FEAR they think of you!

May God bless you and give you strength and courage to BE WHO YOU ARE so that when we teach our children to avoid peer pressure, we can be assured that we are setting the proper example for them to follow.

Copyright 2010 Judy Dudich