What’s In a Name

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My almost 10-pound baby at birth Gabriel Dominic at a little over 3 weeks old in this picture.

 

You might think that names are just words and that they do not have a significant impact on a person or something. But all words, which are composed of shapes and sounds that can trigger an emotional response, have a psychological effect. When choosing a name we can call our son or daughter, I would like to suggest that it should have a beautiful meaning in the first place.

The name of a person, thing, or place carries a lot of meaning. You may ask yourself: what do people think when they hear my name? What does my name remind them of? Of course, you must be good and do good to complement the good name you’ve had. Otherwise, your name is just a word to describe your shameful acts, no matter how beautiful it may sound.

But a good name, according to Proverbs 22: 1, must be chosen instead of great riches, and the favor is better than silver or gold. As parents, getting a good name for our children should be a priority. We have to work to achieve a good name for our sons and daughters.

On December 6, 2017, another member was added to our family when my second child was born. He weighed almost 10 pounds at birth and is 51 centimeters tall. I called him Gabriel Dominic, which means “God is my strength”.

I am very particular when choosing the names of my children. My firstborn was called Nathaniel Harris, which means “Governing Gift of God”.  The names, in my humble opinion, matter. In the Bible, we can read several stories about how God changes the names of people.

God changed Simon’s “God has heard” name to Peter “rock”.  He changed Jacob’s “supplanter” name to “Israel” which means “having power with God”. He changed Abram’s “high father” name to Abraham which means “father of a multitude”. God changed Abraham’s wife’s name, too, from Sarai “my princess” to Sarah which means “mother of nations”.

Names matter because every time we hear about someone or something, we are forced to make a series of assumptions based on the name, identity or origin of a person or something. It’s more than just identifying someone or something. It becomes the public face of someone or something that tells people who that person is or what that something is all about.

The Bible tells us about the change of names to all believers. God said in Revelation 2:17, “To him who overcomes, I will give him a part of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” God will change our names as we make the transition from sinful to holy.

We have to obey God’s commandments so that we can live in a way that gains the trust of others. The Bible does not tell us God’s reasons why He chooses new names for some people. But maybe, just maybe, it was His way of letting us know that the change of names of some of these people is for their new destined mission in life.

In two days we will celebrate the New Year.  We must make the coming of the New Year be accompanied by personal resolutions for change. So that we can have a New Year, a new name, and a new God-inspired mission in life.

Happy New Year to one and all! Welcome 2018!

 

 

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How Our Emotional Reactions As Parents Affect the Child’s Behavior

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My five-year-old son Nathaniel with his cousin Yana.

There are times when I asked myself this question: How should I deal with my impatient preschooler? And every time I tried to expound on a hope to find an answer, it always point me back. Nathaniel just turned five last August and is sometimes impatient about some things. I had to deal with the fact that he, like most preschoolers, lives fully at the moment and thinking about what he wants right now is something that I have to be patient about because it is something that he can observe and learn a lot from.

And when, unintentionally, I could equate his impatience with impatience, I realize that I need to have some soul searching to do. I know that the moment I experience non-rational, intense, and mystifying reactions to certain encounters or experiences with my five-year-old son, that’s a sign that I need to ask my own self some questions. I had to deal, for the most part, with a question like this: Why did I react that way?

I need to be patient with my son’s impatience. I shall understand that at age five, like most children his age, he is still developing self-control and that much explains why tantrums often erupt when he does not get instant gratification. I know that when I get angry as a reaction to my son’s impatience, it may or may not indicate a problem in him, but it says a lot about me.

He should see me as a good role model. It must start with me. Because I know if I want him to grow up calm, cool, and collected, then I must keep this thing in my head at all times. I know, too, that what I am going to tell him becomes what he hears in his head.

My son is offering me a chance for self-discovery while I am discovering who he is. He is still learning everything and experiencing. He is still gathering specific information, discovering. In that sense, I can’t expect him to be flawless.

While many people may think that parenting is all about messy feeding times, changing diapers, chasing a screaming child, and so on, they really do not know what goes beyond what is considered as one of the most important jobs in the world. Parenting requires more than just providing the basic needs to survive, it goes beyond the surface. Parenting is about mastering the art of influencing.

Parents need, as expected, to be the best influencers their children can look at, for the good. How a child becomes and how he or she creates his or her personality is all affected with the way that parents are interacting with their children. Parents should always be there to support their children, but sometimes physical presence is not enough.

Seven things our kids should remember most about us

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Just when the cam clicked for the shot, he turned his head away.

Whether we realize it or not, we’re always given a chance to make a memory at every moment. We’re more than capable of creating good and bad memories every single day. It’s all up to us.

Sure, we all have regrets and disappointments. We all have moments of despair, of hopelessness, and brokenness. We all feel like, at some point in our lives, there’s no way out of the impending doom we’re in and creating.

We tend to stress about things that shouldn’t matter all that much in the first place. And, by doing so, we forgot about our important role as parents. Our children’s sole purpose is to replace us.

Life is short and our time with our sons and daughters is going to go by fast. We have to make the most of every minute and create the kind of legacy that’s enduring, even long after we’re gone. There’s a great need for us parents to focus on things that matter, for what’s important.

It’s never too late to make an unforgettable impact with every minute we have with our kids. The following are seven things our kids should remember most about us:

  1. The way we treat their mother or father. Our children have a way of forming their views of love in large part through how we treat our husband or wife. We must show them how to get entangled in a marriage or relationship that makes them feel encouraged or excited to get married someday.
  1. The way we love them unconditionally. Our sons and daughters may not remember every kiss or hug, but they remember hugs and kisses. They may not remember every “we love you” or “we care for you” but they would sure recall that they were loved and that they heard us say it.
  1. The way we encouraged them. Our kids would be basing their sense of identity, capability, and even self-worth, for the most part, upon the words we speak to them especially in those formative years of their lives. Sure, it’s part of our job as parents to correct our kids, guide, discipline them, but even in correction, the words we must have said should be such that encourage, positively reinforce, and carry the message of love to them.
  1. The times we made them feel safe and secure. Our children would be remembering those moments we chased the monsters under their bed or held them after a nightmare, but they would as well remember the times when our temper became the monster they feared. They’re probably going to see us angry sometimes, because that’s part of life, but we must never forget that it’s our mission to make them feel safe and secure at all times when they’re with us.
  1. The way we love ourselves. How we take care of ourselves matter. Our children pick up on our self-esteem, our confidence, and our attitudes toward our spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. They’re going to model their own self-acceptance, and confidence based on the example we set before them.
  1. The times we gave them our undivided attention. Our children are going to measure love primarily by our attentiveness to them. The times we stop what we’re doing to have spent such a quality time with them would be memories etched into their minds and hearts forever. We should be taking time to do the little things with our sons and daughters because, in the end, they would be the moments that matter most.
  1. The way we handle tough situations. Our kids would look up to us for guidance because they’re navigating a world that they are unsure of. Stressful situations of all sorts could expose us in a way that such could place our character under scrutiny. It is when horrible things happen and hard times roll through that our kids would be remembering most of the way we’ve spoken to them, how we handled and reacted to such things, and how we made them feel safe and protected throughout.

Why smiling is good for a child

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My four-year-old son flashes one of his most beautiful smiles.

Smile is one of the world’s most powerful gestures. It is the symbol that should be rated with the highest emotional content. It impacts our brain, health, and outlook on life—for all the positive reasons.

Smiling could do a lot of good things to a child. We parents must be aware of the fact that a simple smile could make our baby feel safe and secure. By simply smiling at our baby, we’re helping him boost his brain development.

When we’re smiling at a child, it helps in playing a part in bonding and attachment, making him feel secure and safe, as well as allowing him to develop the ability on learning about the world around him and within him. A child would be reading our face and to use our facial expressions as a guide to the world of his own. We must know that when our child gets lots of smiles, it could tell him a lot about his world. It’s when he’s in a secure place feeling safe, and that people around him are responding well to his needs.

It is important to note that, for the most part, smiles are the first building blocks for healthy relationships. And we must know, too, that when the relationships are healthy, they are crucial for our child’s early development. It is through these relationships that a child learns how to think, communicate, understand, interact, express, and show emotions.

To give and to receive smiles are the first steps a child is taking in order to learn how to be social as well as in having good relationships with everyone. Of course, not every single response parents are giving is vital, but the more often parents smile at their child, the better, as each smile a child sees from his parents sends a great message. We should remember that no act of smiling, no matter what the situation is, is ever wasted.

Five simple ways to make a happy child

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We should make them feel like the world is still a beautiful place in which to live, in spite of everything.

All parents just want their children to be happy. But not only that, we also want them to grow up into the best person that they could be. But the big question is: “How much control do we have over our children’s happiness and success for that matter?”

What makes a happy child? What makes him become successful in his chosen field and in life? What could we do to increase the odds that our children would have been achieving these things?

We may try these five simple ways to make happy and successful children:

Help them feel connected. The keyword is “connectedness.” We must make them feel they are loved, acknowledged, understood, and wanted. We must make them feel they are important to us. We must show them unconditional love.

Hug them. Kiss them. Respond with empathy to their cries. Be with them, eat with them, and laugh with them. The more connections we’re making our children with, the better.

We must not be too cynical. We should curb our cynicism. When we’re cynical about just everything, it could take a huge toll on our children’s sense of security, which is considered a crucial component of happiness. Instead, we should make them feel like the world is still a beautiful place in which to live, in spite of everything.

Don’t grant them their every wish and desire. We must focus on our children’s long-term happiness by not putting them in a bubble and grant their every wish and desire. Normally, kids would have their own ways of interpreting for what they grow to expect which the real world doesn’t always work that way.

We should allow our kids to develop such coping skills and resilience they would need to bounce back from life’s inevitable setbacks. We should help them learn in dealing with negative emotions.

Help them find their passion and praise them for it. We should be exposing our kids to a wide range of experiences to see what appeals to them. We should help them develop their ability to totally immerse themselves in an activity they love as that would give them a leg up on happiness throughout their lives.

Make mealtime a positive experience from an early age. When we’re eating with our kids together in a round table, it is important to make sure we raise positive topics to discuss with them. It is through such time when we’re eating healthily, under pleasant, unhurried conditions that would make us feel better in both body and spirit.

Our Constant Prayer As Parents Should Be For Our Children to Come to Know God As He Is As Much As We Did

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If God wills it, so be it.

 

When my son Nathaniel was walking toward the direction of a priest for a blessing after a holy mass celebration two years ago, he (the priest) was telling my son to try becoming a priest like him when he grows up. Then the priest looked me straight in the eyes as we traded smiles. “If God wills it,” I told him.

I once considered priesthood when I was a lot younger. I took up the entrance exam at the nearest College seminary from where I lived and was interviewed, of course, by a priest who was also the school director.

“What made you consider priesthood?” asked the director priest.

“Because I want to serve God by turning people towards him,” I answered.

“Not only a priest can do that, but everyone can serve God in his own little way,” he said.

“Listen, I want you to think hard about it. I’m sending you home and think hard about it. Come back when you have finally decided to become a priest.”

I didn’t come back. He was right, each one of us can serve God in our own little ways. It has become so clear to me now. God wants me to build a family and to make a domestic church out of it.

I know that if I was in the seminary, I would receive wonderful human and spiritual formation and academic education. I would be taught by dedicated priests who inspire by example as I’m going to share my life with fellow seminarians who are also a source of grace, fellowship, and wisdom.

But while I was considering the priesthood, God knew best than what I should be doing with my life. He made me a family man. I was still called “padre,” but of the family. While the priest is called “padre de Iglesia,” I, on the other hand, was the “padre de Familia.”

If my son is going to ask me about considering the priesthood when he grows up, this I have to say: “If God wills it.” Because I know that while I am my son’s biological father, his creator and spiritual father is the Almighty God. I’m confident that God knows what his vocation should be.

Our constant prayer as parents should be for our children to come to know God as He is as much as we did. God would lead our children if we prepare and encourage them to respond to His call.

If God wills it, so be it.

Some thoughts on family and the role it has to play in our society

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The family should impact the entire society by its positive example.

It has been said that a home that’s filled with the light of Christ’s truth and the warmth of his love radiates joy far beyond its walls. The family, especially in the Christian sense of it, plays an essential role in our baptismal call to be disciples and missionaries. Each member of the family is called to holiness and to reflect this holiness in his or her state of life.

The following are some thoughts on family and the important role it has to play in our society to make it a much safer and happy place for all people to live and enjoy:

  • The family should be such an effective voice for the things that matter.
  • The family should be sharing its faith with other families.
  • The family should become a saving community in such a way that it is communicating Christ’s love to others in word and action.
  • The family should be such that it succeeds in living love as communion and service as a reciprocal gift open to all.
  • The family should be such that it has to receive and transmit the divine love realized in the mutual commitment of the spouses, in generous and responsible procreation, in the care and welfare of the children, work and social relationships, with attention to the less fortunate and the deprived, in participation in church activities, and in commitment to civil society.
  • The family should become an evangelizing community by accepting the Gospel as it matures in faith.
  • The family should impact the entire society by its positive example.
  • The family should be educating children in moral values in such a way that they would grow morally upright and mature.
  • The family should be fostering an environment where children learn skills, morals, and values.
  • The family should create structure and stability in the lives of family members.