The Ignatian Way for Families
New book preps parents for discernment
What can St. Ignatius of Loyola teach parents of today? Quite a bit, say Tim and Sue Muldoon in their latest book, The Discerning Parent: An Ignatian Guide to Raising Your Teen (Ave Maria Press). With Tim’s background as a college theology professor and Sue’s experience as a professional counselor and religious educator, they bring a wealth of insight to the topic of discerning according to the Spiritual Exercises.
Tim and Sue live in Natick, Massachusetts, with their three children – two teens and a tween.
Fathers for Good: How much of this book comes from your own experience as parents?
Tim and Sue Muldoon: About half. It’s based on both our questions as parents, but also on our professional work with young people in clinical, parish, and educational settings.
FFG: What do the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises have to do with parenting?
Tim and Sue Muldoon: Plenty. We explored how Ignatian spirituality is applicable to parenting in our first book, Six Sacred Rules for Families, and this new book draws from the basic ideas. St. Ignatius gave his Spiritual Exercises to lay people and was a lay person when he wrote them, well before he became a priest or founded the Jesuits. His spirituality is fundamentally about discernment, coming to know God’s presence in everyday experience, and listening for God’s invitation to greater service through the imitation and companionship of Christ. As parents, we see that invitation as meaning always to come to know the person of our children at every stage of their lives.
FFG: What is “discernment” in the context of the book?
Tim and Sue Muldoon: It is carefully listening to God in prayer, but also giving careful attention to experience and to the challenges we face at every new stage of our kids’ lives. It is having one eye on God and one eye on the world our children experience, being ready to critique what will not help them grow, or will actually harm them, but also being ready to celebrate the ways they flourish.
FFG: What message would you give fathers on their role in parenting?
Tim and Sue Muldoon: A key theme we explore throughout the book is the way that a teen’s growing autonomy means that they desire more time to themselves and more space to grow. But it is absolutely critical that we continue to really parent our teens through these years, even with a tenacity that comes from understanding that there will often be pushback. We must never give up on them, through hard times and through good times.
Find out more at the Ave Maria Press website.