Empowering teens versus abdicating parental guidance….

January 27, 2014

My wife and I already raised one daughter through adolescence, high school, college and graduate school. Every now and then I beat myself up over what I could have done different.  But one thing is for sure, we did the best we knew how to do and that included a lot of prayers and discernment on what was the best for her. I will never criticize a parental decision concerning their children – except when that decision is given over to the teen to make.

I am convinced teenagers desire structure, guidelines and parameters.  We have been entrusted by God to raise these precious creatures.  Sometimes, in fact many times, that means making tough and unpopular decisions on their behalf.  Choosing a high school is one of those life changing decisions.  I was flabbergasted by otherwise caring and intelligent parents and how they turned such an important decision over to the hands of a 13-14 year old.  Since when do they know at such an inexperienced age what is best for them?

I heard time and time again:  Well she wants to go to this high school so I guess it’s OK with me…… The other day I overheard a parent telling their teen:  It’s OK if you want to leave your current high school to go to another… The imortant thing is that you are happy….. Teenagers are not equipped to make life altering decisions.  Especially when there is a parent or two, with much more life experience available, to guide and give advice.

Imagine allowing a teen to leave a high school because it may be perceived to be  too difficult?  What happens when the next one is “difficult” as well?  Move them again??!!  One of the few exceptions I can think of is when the teen has an exceptional talent.  There are high schools tailored to specific talents.  I can see a parent collaborating with a teen on attending a high school because of a passion and/or talent the teen may have.

We have to be careful with the slippery slope of giving teens too much latitude on decisions regarding life.  We are on this Earth as parents for a reason, if not, then why are we parents?  Just leave the teens alone to go about life?  They will have ample opportunities to make mistakes and correct the same, when they become young adults.  In the meantime they rely on us to guide, correct, discipline, act as cheerleader, support and pray; to guide them along until adulthood.

May God give us the patience, wisdom, discipline and Grace to realize we have been given a great responsibility and blessing that cannot be abdicated.  It is ours to lose, in more ways than one.

Our Lady and St.  Joseph, parents of our Lord, pray for us!

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Governor Huckabee and a women’s libido…..

January 26, 2014

Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on Thursday said, “Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything that anyone else can do. Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war on them. It’s a war for them.”

He added, “And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government, then so be it.”

Then the Twitter firestorm began, lead by erroneous comments from the liberal press…..NBC’s Kasie Hunt and CNN’s Dana Bash immediately tweeted: It was Huckabee’s opinion that women couldn’t control their libidos!  By the time Hunt and Bash (what great liberal journalist names!) apologized, it was all over the mainstream press… . Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood called his remarks “chilling”.   And she never heard those remarks directly from Huckabee!

Jaqueline Alemany from CBS News stated:  Many Republican leaders are concerned about Huckabee’s remarks”…. Since when can one trust what anyone from CBS says?  Oh yea, not since Dan Rather fabricated a story on former President Bush (43).

Sharon Day, a Republican National Committee co-chair,  emphasizing the importance of winning back women for the Republican Party saying, “Women are not a coalition, we are not a group to be outreached to — we are 53 percent of the vote.  And winning back they are.  That is why the Democratic Party liberal press (before Fox that used to be a redundant statement) are so concerned with likable Republican leaders such as Mike Huckabee.  He scares the beejesus out of them with his folksy style and religious views.

Huckabee defended his remarks Friday night telling Fox News, “In fact everything I was accused of saying, I was actually saying the polar opposite. This was an affirmation of the intelligence, of the capability of women.”  Sorry Governor, as long as the Liberal press runs scarred, the disinformation and campaign to destroy will continue…. Bring on the mid-term elections…. the liberals are running scared!


To blog…or not?

January 22, 2014

Two Catholic men who I admire because they not only talk the talk – but walk the walk, are avid bloggers.  I started blogging last year with much enthusiasm, then little by little came to a stop.  I read their blogs with great enthusiasm and realize it is number one, a cathartic experience for the blogger and number 2, a great way to let others know they are not alone!  Thanks to these two men and hopefully for the greater good, I will restart the blogging engines….The Catholicmanblog is back!


The end of the world with my brother Elias, lost in absolute darkness…!

December 21, 2012

So this morning at 5:30am our intrepid cycling club, termed the “B” team by our faster brothers and sisters, went on our morning ride.  This morning the B Team is down from our usual 3 riders to just Elias and I…. Our third brother doesn’t like to ride when it’s under 80 degrees or over 85 degrees or if it is a Monday or Friday…..! 

We began the year by riding 10 miles in an hour…  For those mathematically challenged, it works out to an average speed of 10 miles per hour.  The “A” team is quite concerned about that since they do around 25 miles in the same time span….  However,  now, by the end of the year, we are riding 14 miles in the same hours time!  I don’t know about you but in my book that’s progress…. Maybe by this time next year we can get it to 20 miles per hour…but I wouldn’t hold my breadth…. You see we do this more for the camaraderie of spending time with fellow Catholic men and the hope of losing a few pounds…Not necessarily with the idea of becoming Olympians…

Of course when we peddled off this morning our thoughts turned to the Mayan Calender predicting December 21st as the end of time….My 13 year old tells me that is because that’s when the calendar stopped…. except that recently the rest of the calendar was found behind someone’s sofa so life as we know it continues….

In order to boost our ride to 14 miles Elias and I bravely searched for a new route,  albeit in the darkness typical of Coral Gables streets before the sun comes up. So of course we get lost in a community we have lived in for many, many years…. You see instead of elevated street signs, the Gables has little markers on the ground level virtually  impossible to see in daylight, imagine in darkness!   

It is now heatedly debated who said what about having to go South when we needed to go North….  He mentioned something about checking our GPS but real men don’t do that… or so I claimed…  You see my brother Elias has a lot of wonderful qualities and like all of us he  has a few lovable personal characteristics as well… One of them is his ability to cry at a moment’s notice… So wanting to avoid that I relented and stopped and checked my GPS.  Guess what?  We were going the wrong way! 

And now you know the rest of the story as to how we got to 14 miles on the day the world was supposed to end!


It’s so much easier to just drop off our daughter….

September 23, 2012

The shame of it is that we are one of the few parents, and the only in my daughter’s peer group, that already raised a girl….now 23 years old.  That doesn’t mean we didn’t make mistakes then and that we don’t now….But if I had that resource of experience and knowledge in my parental peer group, I would certainly try to learn from their actions and try to understand their rules concerning our 13-year-old daughters….

Sunset Mall was also the location of choice 10 years ago when our first daughter was 13.  She wasn’t dropped off without supervision until the beginning of 10th grade…..  It seems my now 13-year-old, just starting 8th grade,  is the only one requiring adult supervision while at the mall.  It’s so much easier to just drop her off and let her fend for herself with other 13 year olds… 

Mind you, Sunset Mall is in a challenging neighborhood and police patrolling the mall openly talk about gang problems, drug use and petty crime. Plus, there is enough peer pressure on young teens.  Having them fend for themselves in an anthill of other teens and young adults is an unnecessary pressure on their young psyches.  There are two variables going on here. One is that with a parent close by, basic human psychology states that the young teen will be more wary of her decision-making with a parent close by.  The other variable is that if something were to happen at least a parent is in close proximity.

Regardless, it is our choice as a parent to not leave her alone regardless of how tired we are.  Yes, it’s a hassle, yes, it’s boring for the adults and yes, we rather be doing something else.. But what about parental responsibility?  Instead of helping ourselves and working as a team, covering supervised mall trips, sharing drop-off and pick ups….We will be forced to have our daughter choose a different peer group…A group more in line with what we believe to be responsible adult actions.

For at least the remainder of this year. my wife and I will go to the mall with our 13-year-old and have an old fashion date night.  That way we share some one-on-one time with each other and are there for our daughter as well….

Hopefully one day she will understand and appreciate the tough choices we make.  These choices however, shouldn’t be made tougher by parents that should be part of our support network….


Angel, Mario and Eduardo – the end of an era. May they rest in God’s glory!

August 17, 2012

Three best friends, one dream…. Now they are all gone. My father, the youngest of the three, was under the tutelage of the two older cousins; one whom I called my uncle.  When the United States invaded the Bay of Pigs, before President Kennedy lost the little backbone that he had,  the three of them had pivotal roles preparing for the invasion.  Angel and Mario were able to escape to Miami and evade Castro and Guevara, who were on a murderous rampage.  Eduardo, in charge of the CIA radio operations for the invasion was caught and served 18 years in one of the cruelest prisons known to mankind.

They ninicknamed him “El Abuelo” because he was older than all the other prisoners of conscience.  He became part of the original group of “plantados” nicknamed because of the way they stood firm against their jailers.  One of the plantados would later on become the Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission named by President Reagan;  a president with backbone to spare…. Ambassador Valladares wrote a tell all book of the horrific experiences of Castro’s jails:  “Against All Hope”.  It is a riveting account of these prisoners being abused physically and psychologically. Forced to go naked for months on end.  Sent to the firing squad then fired at with blanks. Sleep deprivation and lack of medical attention were the least of their problems.

Mario continued on the CIA payroll in Miami in charge of finances and benefits for those heroes that survived Kennedy’s betrayal.  My father Angel was an exemplary man as a father, husband and man of faith. A lawyer in Cuba, in Miami he washed dishes and worked odd jobs until he became a social worker. At the pinnacle of his governmental career he was named by then Florida Governor Ruben Askew as the Director of the Cuban Refugee Program; the largest of its kind in the nation. Meanwhile, Eduardo spent his most productive years in Catro’s hellhole. 

I remember like it was yesterday the day Eduardo was released then was flown to Miami. He walked into our house to hugs, kisses and tears.  He looked at me and asked my father if I was the one destined to become a priest! Eduardo’s psyche was intact and his spirit as as strong as ever.  Mario and my father Angel both passed away years ago.  Eduardo carried the torch for both of them and for all those in exile praying for a free Cuba.  We spent weekends suffering the Dolphins and weekdays lamenting the free fall of the Marlins….He was ever presnt at all our family affairs

I found out a few weeks ago that Eduardo was suffering from a blood disorder.  I had the good fortune of spending some time with him just two days ago.  This morning, Mario’s son, my cousin, called to tell me of Eduardo’s passing.  If I am fortunate to get to Heaven and even more fortunate to be able to quiz our Lord at that time….I will ask why men of God leave us so early while those that serve the devil tend to stick around for so damn long….

I know that the three cousins are now together and enjoying our Lord’s everlasting glory.  I pray that their dream of a free Cuba comes sooner rather than later and that their years of fight and determination are rewarded.  Eduardo’s passing brings to an earthly close the friendship of the three patriots that I knew and loved. It is up to my generation and that of my two daughters  – to contine the good fight…. Angel, Mario and Eduardo:  La Patria Los Contemplas Orgullosos….


Oswaldo Paya, RIP. Cuban, Catholic and Corageous….

July 24, 2012

I’ve admired Cuban dissident and practicing Catholic Oswaldo Paya for a number of reasons.  Not the least of which is that he decided to fight the good fight from within the iron shackled island instead of from the comfy land of exile. Paya was apparently silenced by being run off the road while driving in a remote section of Cuba.

Paya founded the Varela Project; named after now venerated Cuban priest Felix Varela.  Varela lived through the Spanish occupation and was credited for teaching Cubans how to think for themselves; independently of the Spanish Crown. 

The Varela Project collected signatures across the island in order to show the communist government a desire from the people for a new democratic and socially responsible constitution.  The petition was turned into the government never to be heard of again……

I spoke to a recent arrival and was told the vast majority of Cubans never heard of Paya and even less of the Varela Project.  Fewer still have heard of the Cuban Blogger Yoani Sanchez; whose blog is read by millions around the free world.   It is sad to think that in 2012 an entire society, only 90 miles away from the Southernmost point of the United States, lives in total darkness.  There is only one official radio station and television station and one newspaper. 

The Arab Spring had one major denominator that had a direct causal effect on their victory over a totalitarian government:  a vibrant internet community.  Twitter and Facebook played a dominant part in allowing the dissident movement to communicate their plan amongst each other.  Yoanni Sanchez hides in touristy internet bars in Havana while transmitting her most inner thoughts.  The ten million or so Cubans left in Cuba are forced to fend by themselves while the marxist government controls every aspect of their lives. 

Let’s pray that the heroic Cubans fighting from within find a small crevice to hold on to as they climb the wall of inevitability; a democratically elected government where freedom of speech and religion are in the forefront.  Paya’s dream will be fulfilled and Yoanni will be able to sit on the malecon in the open and blog to her heart’s content!