In preparing for the Vatican’s World Meeting of Families we are asked to recognise family love is fragile and needs to be cared for. Members of our Diocesan community share their tips.
Catholic Care’s Aleksandra Kadiroglu, a Family Therapeutic Caseworker, supports vulnerable families in our community who are dealing with an array of complex issues.
“There is a sense of accompaniment in the work that we do,” she told Catholic Outlook.
Aleksandra explained that a family might have issues that need sorting out including a lack of communication, blaming and shaming family members, ostracising and scapegoating, mental health, drug and alcohol abuse and complex trauma.
Some families from culturally diverse backgrounds may also experience isolation from their communities due to the stigma of seeking professional support from outside of the family or community and they may have limited access to services due to a language barrier.
When asked what a ‘strong’ family looks like, Aleksandra said that it may not necessarily be a family that has it ‘all together’, but one that understands the individual members of the family and their needs.
“A strong family sees that if there is a problem, there’s a solution and they work hard to repair those issues.”
“They need to be supported and be given opportunities to work out these issues with love, support, care and compassion.”
The Degollacion Family – Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown (pictured above)
For Cryste Degollacion, a young parishioner of Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown, the welcoming of her youngest brother, Joey, has been a wonderous time for the family. “He keeps the whole family on our toes,” she explains.
“Even at such a young age, he shows such a strong child-like love for God, which in turn, reminds our family to be child-like in the way we talk, care and show love with one another.”
Attending Mass together and sharing a meal afterwards is one way Cryste’s family’s bond is strengthened and provides an opportunity for the family to share moments of their week.
“This time with God as a family strengthens our own family bond because we get to share the love of God with Joey and lead by example with how important our faith means to us.
“Dad always taught me to never go to bed angry and Mum always said, ‘if there’s three things that every family should always say, it is ‘thank you’, ‘I love you’, and ‘I’m sorry’.’”
The Rodricks Family – St Patrick’s Parish, Guildford
For Blannie Rodricks, an Acolyte at St Patrick’s Parish, Guildford, the faith he and his wife Caroline share, has set the benchmark for their two teenage daughters, Taylor and Tracey.
“The foundation of the faith is at home, and if you get it right at home, you can then take it out into the world.
“My wife and I have developed a ‘no fear’ culture in our house where my children can ask questions about their faith and society openly and honestly, and no matter what they ask, my children will be respected.
“Being a good listener goes a long way to making them more comfortable with you, and more likely for them to share their feelings, whether good or bad.”
Aleksandra’s tips for keeping the family strong, healthy and connected:
- Sound routine provides kids and families with safety and predictability however flexibility also comes into play when it comes to healthy family routines.
- Sharing a meal together at least once per day keeps the family connected.
- Organised family time at least once per week such as big family dinners, picnics, sports, movies or visits to extended family members is also important in terms of connection, and building strong individual identity as well as building trustworthy relationships.
- Open communication, providing safe space for members to communicate their individual needs and emotions, communicating love and high regard for individual family members are a must.
- Setting clear boundaries and expressing disappointment for actions, not for a person. Don’t ‘blame and shame’, instead, allow mistakes to happen and provide safety and support when mistakes are made.
To contact Catholic Care, visit catholiccarewsbm.org.au
Find out more about the World Meeting of Families through our family hub at parracatholic.org/family.
This article was originally published in the 2022 Ordinary Time | Winter 2022 edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can pick up your copy of the magazine in parishes, schools and offices across the Diocese of Parramatta now.