The Religious Rights of Children

The law protects children outside the family much as it protects adults. In addition, children, have special rights appropriate to their age: The state forbids their neglect and guarantees them education, medical care, and the like. The crucial right that society denies to children is that of autonomy -- the right to decide for oneself. [...]

Littering Love

Are children like litter? Helen Fisher, a Rutgers University professor, thinks so. In a recent video clip from the Joy Behar Show, the esteemed professor compared having many children to "littering" and explained that "we've got too many people on this planet to begin with." Other members of the panel agreed that refraining from having [...]

The Great Pants Debate

In response to a certain missive making the rounds in reference to ladies' fashion -- and, more specifically, why dresses and skirts should be the norm for Catholic women -- Simcha Fisher has one word: pants. A few selections from her Pantifesto: 1.  I live in NH, where winter happens.  Pants. 4. Motherhood is a [...]

Is it Time to Rethink Confession for Minors?

In confronting the present crisis, measures to deal justly with individual crimes are essential, yet on their own they are not enough: a new vision is needed, to inspire present and future generations to treasure the gift of our common faith. -- Pope Benedict XVI, "Letter to the Irish People" "Tell me the details," I [...]

My New Favorite Website

It's called A Tribute and Study of Steadicam Operators and Their Work, which pretty much says it all. OK, maybe I should clarify a bit: it could easily become my favorite website, with a little work. Right now, the list of shots is much too short for someone as obsessed with the Steadicam and its [...]

Resolutions for a New Feminist

Ten Resolutions of a New Feminist ManHenry Karlson    The answer to the question of women's rights, as with all other serious questions, is in an understandable, sensible and revived Christianity. -- Vladimir Soloviev   In his 1995 "Letter to Women," Pope John Paul II, continuing in the tradition of his encyclical Mulieres Dignitatem, stated [...]

Catholic Schools Are Saving New Orleans’ Children

Catholics Teach the Children of New Orleans Since the Katrina disaster, the schools of the Archdiocese of New Orleans have swelled to double the enrollment of the local public schools -- 40,000 to 20,000. Rev. Neal McDermott, O.P., superintendent of the Catholic schools, told me yesterday that the archdiocese is facing a financial crunch when [...]

Why Young Children Belong at Mass

Not too long ago, I wrote an article for my parish newsletter about why we must offer encouragement -- not sideways glances -- to parents who bring their young children to Mass. Overall, the response was positive, but one reader sent me a letter suggesting I leave my kids at home so I could "more [...]

Stupid Questions

Some questions have obvious answers and need not be asked. I used to have an acute case of Stupid Question Syndrome: There was a time when they could actually wreck my day, pushing my irritation meter into the dangerous red zone. Some examples: 8:00 a.m. Stand in line for 15 minutes at Starbucks. Arrive at [...]

Listening to the Children of Gay Parents

Out from Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting Dawn Stefanowicz, Annotation Press, 245 pages, $14.95 As a clinical law professor in 1986, I represented six-year-old Tiffany in a proceeding to terminate her mother's parental rights. It was a heart-breaking and difficult case because the mother-daughter bond was strong -- and hugely inappropriate. My little client's [...]

Pierce Pettis: His Life of Crime

The "Fast Folk" movement grew out of New York City in the 1980s and 1990s, producing a new wave of acoustic singer-songwriters. The more famous among them included Shawn Colvin, Lyle Lovett, and Suzanne Vega, as well as lesser-known artists such as John Gorka and Lucy Kaplansky. Many of them were songwriters whose work would [...]

Precious ‘Pip’

Four-year-old Gabrielle is teaching herself to read. Her eager little eyes peer over my shoulder as I sound out words with her older brother Stephen. I catch her later, mouthing the stories as she works her way through a stack of early readers. She is teaching herself to write, too. She sneaks bits of lined [...]

Today Is Not Forever

Daniel says many things these days, but his first word is still his favorite: Mama. To a toddling 17-month-old, "Mama" means many things: When he falls and hurts himself, "Mama" means, "Comfort me." When he can't quite reach his ball that has rolled under the couch, "Mama" means, "Help me get what I want." When [...]

Christmas Gift

Children are different from adults; better in some ways, worse in others. In my own later childhood, my favorite words of taunt and abuse to my contemporaries were, "Grow up!" I was an atheist by then; the phrase was never meant as an allusion to 1 Corinthians 13:11. But I was still thinking as a [...]

Baby Business

I was talking with a friend recently about babies starting solids foods. We discussed when to start, first foods to offer, and different babies' reactions and preferences. Suddenly, my eavesdropping children wanted to know: "How about me, Mama? What was my first food? Did I like it? How old was I when you first fed [...]

Suffer the Children: The Disaster of ‘Talking about Touching’

  On September 29, 2003, a frustrated Rev. David Mullen sent a letter to newly installed Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston, pleading for help. "Talking About Touching" (TAT), a controversial safety education program designed for children in kindergarten to fourth grade, had just been accepted in the Archdiocese of Boston. He wrote:   I am [...]