Monica and Bill Dodds

Monica and Bill Dodds

I have to confess I had heard the term “Gangnam style” for quite a while but paid no attention to it until the family’s youngest generation clued me in (in case you don’t know, it refers to a song and accompanying video by a South Korean rapper named Psy). As far as I can tell, it’s the equivalent of the Macarena.

Talk of “Gangnam style” had me considering which style I know. The style I know is parenting, Catholic style. And it goes like this:

— You’re familiar with the adage that God never gives you more than you can handle, but you can easily name more than a few instances when you’re certain he has overestimated your abilities as a mom or dad.

— In its early stage, you realize the vocation — the calling — of your parenthood frequently includes a tiny voice crying in the middle of the night to let you know “I am hungry!”


— You wanted your little one’s baptism to be perfect but, truth be told, you were so tired, your memory of it is pretty blurry (kind of like your wedding). This is why it’s good to have someone taking photos at these events.

— As soon as your children are old enough to ask questions about God, heaven, angels, and the Mass, you realize your religious education was a little spotty. When they become teens, your catechetical reading and prayers shifted into high gear.

— As a teen and young adult, you took delight in considering yourself “countercultural.” Then, as a Catholic parent, your definition of that term radically changes and now includes “attending Sunday Mass as a family” and “no-meat Lenten Fridays.”

— You consider your children gifts from God, but you realize they come with more than a little assembly required.

— You know that promising your little ones doughnuts in the parish hall after Sunday Mass if they’re (relatively) well-behaved during the service isn’t a bribe. It’s an incentive.

— Your prayer life intensified and parenting skills sharpened when it dawned on you that as a mom or dad you’re called to model God’s love, which, you have also noted, includes answering some of his or her requests with a loving but firm, “No way!”

— You think maybe God made a mistake when he gave your teen and young adult children free will. Yes, your generation could handle it, but kids today!

— Your heart melts a little when one of your children — whether a toddler or way beyond 21 — says, “I’ll pray for you.”