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….

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Family vacation and Mass….Not mutually exclusive!

July 9, 2012

As we were nearing our destination of our first road trip this summer, we passed by a Catholic Church. My backseat was filled with two,  just turned teen girls and my daughter, a soon to be teen. As I was focused on finding the hotel my daughter stated, as a matter of factly, that we were passing a Catholic Church and one of her friends asked me to drive slowly to see what times the Masses were on Sunday! 

Now, I shouldn’t have been surprised and was in fact very proud that my wife and I apparently got through at some level to our daughter!  And it speaks volumes of the upbringing the parents of her two friends had done.  But I was surprised at this brief moment of religious clarity on their part.  I had spent 3 hours hearing the latest music, most of it sung by the three at the highest possible decibels, listening to gossip on boys and of course the requisite whining on material items they wished they had.

But at that specific moment they had a beautiful pause, albeit it for a brief instance, to wonder about Mass times!

I remember not too long ago on my walk how Mass was reserved just for Sundays and when we took  a vacation, it wasn’t only from work or school – but also from other “responsibilities” like Sunday Mass.  

One of the first things we  have done for years, is to seek out a local Catholic Church close to the area we are vacationing in.  It has always been a wonderful experience.  We learn about the universality of our religion and enjoy the different cultural differences each community has to express in a Catholic Mass.

In this past Sunday’s case the priest was there to greet each family before the Mass as they entered; not afterwards like at our parish.  This parish has the custom of having all parishioners share in the Blood of Christ as well as in the Eucharist.  We all share in the same faith but it’s really interesting to see how different faith communities worship  – while still staying within the parameters set by the Catholic Church.

We had a wonderful, relaxing and fun vacation, including a spectacular sunrise enjoyed from our room every morning.  The least we could do was to take an hour to thank our Lord for the wonders he has given us, as well as to thank Him for the opportunity to vacation as a family…. 

As this summer starts I hope we all share the same Mass opportunity with our family.  I am listing below a link to be able to find a Catholic Church and Mass times in whatever area you are vacationing.  Just input the zip code of the area you are visiting. Make this a natural part of vacation planning for you and your family!    www.masstimes.org or 734-794-2100.

                        Sunrise at Melbourne, Florida


Tweens and high heels….what a funny combination!

June 9, 2012

My daughter celebrated her 13th birthday last weekend….even though it’s not until August! One of her closest friends is also a summer baby and is leaving for Spain for the summer…So of course they came up with an idea of celebrating their 13th first teenage b-day together. She promises she won’t ask for another bash on her real birthday in August… wish me luck on that one!

My wife and I are on the same page in not allowing our daughter to wear high heel shoes….So our daughter, the lawyer to be, came up with a compromise – wear platform shoes! Hey, they are actually not heels, but still 2-4 inches high; depending on the type of shoe… Since my wife and I are learning not to make every decision World War 3 and trying to choose what battles to fight, we let her buy a pair of platform shoes….talk about viral communication…. Every single girl at their party had huge platform shoes!

It was hilarious to see the girl’s tower over boys of the same age since the boys have not yet begun to develop their bodies….yes ladies, I know, even as adults we still haven’t developed our brains……. We parents had a ball watching these otherwise coordinated girls trying to maneuver their platforms! It was a miracle there were no broken ankles! My wife went to the girl’s bathroom at one point and saw about 10 girls on the floor exchanging shoes with each other because they were so uncomfortable! About mid way through the night most of the girls were shoeless…beautiful, fanciful outfits and no shoes! I have to give my daughter credit though, she actually took a second pair, these were flats, and at least wasn’t barefoot the rest of the evening.

It was your typical pre-teen party, with the boys goofing off and the girls dancing by themselves. At one point there were around 100 tweens partying. My wife and I couldn’t believe we made it through that night! We learned one important lesson though. We could have been stricter with the heels issue, but we already raised one girl – now 23 years of age. We know we have many, many rounds of battles in front of us. Many battles we had with our eldest daughter were great learning experiences for us.…

Hopefully we are wiser with our youngest…. we are definitely more tired! But we learned that by giving in a little, with something that didn’t involve a moral issue, she had fun and learned a big lesson about heels, platform or otherwise!

In fact, this evening they are off to another birthday party and guess what! They are all wearing flats!


Off to the circus…. we love you… we will pray and worry, and pray and worry some more…but will be proud of you every step of the way….

May 19, 2012

Yes, I know, prayer and worrying shouldn’t go hand in hand….But for those whose children are flying off on their own fully understand this paradox. ….I always had a feeling my oldest daughter was like a round peg in a square hole while studying at one of the best all girl prep schools in Florida….  I felt the same while she went to a top 50 US university in LA then to a master’s program rated one of the top 3 in the world…. 

My daughter has a split personality that amazes me. She is an academic on one hand; performing complicated research and landing at the top of her class….while at the same time seeking to perform and display her creative side in the most interesting and unusual art forms…. During her prep high school years she excelled at musical theater. The classic triple threat:  singing, dancing and acting. We sent her to London, Salamanca and New York to train in the top venues in her field.  In New York she fell in love with circus performing.  She graduated from prep school, went to LA to one of the best film schools in the world and proceeded to graduate with a bachelor degree in archeology…  Yes, it’s a wonder her mom and I don’t have whiplash from her ongoing career changes!  She found a local circus group and performed as a contortionist while going to school.  Those were the longest 4 years of our life – but she got through it, as did we. 

Back in Miami, I got her into one of the most prestigious marine archaeologist masters programs in the world.  She achieved 5 different degrees of high level diving certifications and completed her course work.  Now I realize she excelled in prep school, college and a master’s program probably because of my pressure and my selfish reasons…. All along she dreamt of being a circus performer.   So right after passing her final masters class, she announced to her mother and me that she was heading back to LA in less than a month to join a circus troupe fulltime.   

Her mom is convinced she won’t be back soon.  I tell her if that is the case it’s because she is successful in what she chose to do. If her artistic dreams do not meet her expectations, she will always have a great education to fall back on.   However, that won’t do much to alleviate the helplessness and fears her mom and I will feel while she tries her hand at something that is so foreign to us. 

We are people of faith and know the Lord has her in His Hands.  But as we lie awake at night wondering how she is doing so far away, I will always remember my little girl hugging me and telling me as I fail to hold off my tears……it will be OK papa, I will always love you both….you and mami taught me well…  

And off she goes to the circus….as I pray and worry and worry and pray some more…but always proud of my baby girl…..I love you too….


You’re the worse dad in the history of the world!…No really…you are!

May 15, 2012

We have a new policy set in stone in the Alvarez family beginning the next school year. Boy do I wish I had implemented it this past year!  Our youngest daughter, evolving from a tween to a teen, will begin the school year grounded until we get the grades we feel she is capable of attaining….  As a seventh grader, we have struggled with the huge emphasis from her peers on guys and parties….Geez, I could have sworn our 23 year old didn’t start the drop off boy-girl parties until her sophomore year in high school….Then again our soon to be teen says her older sister was a nerd!

Parents, we need help, we need to work as a team of Catholic parents focused on living the faith we proclaim to be ours. It’s easier to turn a deaf ear to the constant wailing and whining when our soon to be teens do not get their way.  My 12 year old daughter, otherwise a wonderful human being, seems to thrive on skating on thin academic ice.  She expects us to jump for joy when her friends get summer school and she doesn’t. She expects us to applaud mediocrity.  She also expects us to reward her with party after party on the weekends…. 

We put our foot down this week and limited her to one party this past weekend.  Each and every day the week before the parties brought exaggerated levels of whininess, including the old standby: I hate you! She tried using her mother against me and vice versa. She actually waited until her mom was asleep, then cajoled an OK from her while she slept to go to the second party! When I held my own the next morning, she raged and sulked…something only a tween can do at the same time!

The morning after the grounding for the first party, the storm passed.  I can’t believe  my wife and me held our own and held to our new rule.  I’m sure our daughter now understands that rules will not be bent from now on.  But unfortunately, some of our peer parents don’t do the same.  We as parents, need to set the standard. We must set the bar at a level that will make them successful young ladies, both academically and morally.  Next year she goes into 8th grade. A pivotal year academically that will determine what high school she goes too. 

Sending our children to a Catholic high school does not absolve us from our responsibility to prepare their souls for eternity. I had the incredible blessing to go to confession with our beloved Bishop Augustine Roman only a few days before his passing.  I mentioned my concern as a Catholic parent that I wasn’t doing enough to guide my daughter through these tumultuous years as a Catholic young girl.  He told me in no uncertain terms that a Catholic education is only as good as the morals and lifestyle taught at home and shown by the parents. That Catholic High schools in and of themselves are not an adequate replacement for the examples of parents.

I wasn’t on a committed walk with our Lord while we were raising our eldest daughter.  Even though she is a wonderful young woman and gifted academically and artistically, I beat myself up for not giving her the example I should have as a Catholic father….  I am determined not to the same with my evolving tween….  I pray that the Lord give my wife and I the strength to hold our own and be an example as Catholic parents; not only to our daughter – but to our peer parents as well.