Adapting to parenthood’s changing needs

Adapting to parenthood’s changing needs

Dear Editor, I am writing in response to Mary Kenny’s thought-provoking article on modern parenthood, particularly its emphasis on ‘positive parenting’ and the potential consequences thereof [The Irish Catholic – February 29, 2024]. As a grandmother reflecting on the evolution of child-rearing practices, I’m particularly interested in Ms Kenny’s pertinent questions about the impact of contemporary parenting approaches on children’s development and mental well-being.

Indeed, the shift towards encouraging children to voice their needs and fostering their autonomy reflects a commendable aspect of modern parenting. Acknowledging and respecting children’s individuality can undoubtedly contribute to their emotional resilience and self-esteem. However, as she astutely notes, there are concerns about whether this emphasis on positive reinforcement may inadvertently lead to self-centeredness or a lack of consideration for others.

The insights shared by child psychologist Abigail Shrier highlight the consequences of shielding children from life’s challenges. The psychologist’s observations about the rising prevalence of mental health issues among young people underscore the importance of striking a balance between nurturing resilience and providing support.

The findings of the Resolution Foundation report further emphasise the urgency of addressing the mental health challenges facing today’s youth. While advancements in diagnosis, as well as the need to label every small character trait as some sort of malady – pushing more young people to be unnecessarily medicalised, undoubtedly play a role, it is crucial to examine how parenting practices may contribute to the heightened prevalence of depression and anxiety.

While positive parenting has undeniable merits, we must remain vigilant against its potential pitfalls. Cultivating a holistic approach to child-rearing that fosters resilience, empathy, and a sense of responsibility towards others is paramount.

Ultimately, the well-being of children hinges on parents’ ability to adapt and evolve in response to the changing dynamics of parenthood, as well as, of course, parent’s ability to pass on the Faith.

Yours etc.,

Mary Hegarty

Blanchardstown, Dublin 15


Deleting word mother from Constitution

Dear Editor, Those of us who are still lucky enough to have mothers will run around this week buying cards, gifts and flowers to say thank you on Mother’s Day for all their unconditional love, advice and support.

At the same time, we will be voting to delete forever the word ‘mother’ from our Constitution.

While I agree that the current language in the Constitution is archaic, it is a great pity that our legal wordsmiths could not come up with a new wording that would still include the word ‘mother’.

The word ‘carers’ does not quite capture the multiple roles of the modern ‘Irish Mammy’ for me.

Yours etc.,

Ger O’ Brien

Drogheda, Co. Louth


Ordaining married men to address vocations crisis

Dear Editor, Bishop of Waterford Alphonsus Cullinan is right to highlight the need for a review of the arrangement of Masses across parishes [The Irish Catholic – February 29, 2024]. Clearly with the ever growing shortage of priests, some action is needed to ensure our aging priests are not over burdened. Greater lay ministry is an important part of the solution, but the elephant in the room is surely the option to ordain married men and women deacons, something the Synod in Rome will address next October. Perhaps it is time for our bishops to show leadership on this issue now, and advocate for positive changes that will help address the vocations crisis in our Irish Church.

Yours etc.,

Deacon Frank Browne,

Rathfarnham, Dublin 16


Moving forward with married priests

Dear Editor, Your story about Bishop Cullinan’s suggestions for the future deployment of priests and churches in his diocese led me to some personal reflections [The Irish Catholic – February 29, 2024].

In my time as principal of two English Catholic secondary schools I enjoyed the good fortune of having married priests on the teaching staff. These priest-teachers helped out in local parishes at weekends and holidays.

In my last school in rural Essex there were several married priests, mostly former Church of England clergy, in charge of local Catholic parishes. Nobody found this the least bit odd.

On a recent family visit to our former London parish, I met a married friend from Iraq, who serves as one of the many parish volunteer catechists with special responsibility for preparing those many adults seeking to join the Church. During a recent visit to that parish by a Chaldean archbishop he was, to his surprise, invited to become a priest.

Here in Kerry about a year ago I attended the local synodal meeting in our very rural pastoral area. In our discussion group and in other gatherings that evening many of those present expressed the opinion that having a married clergy was far preferable to having no priests and no Eucharist.

Given the choice most Catholics I meet would prefer to move forward in hope rather than decline in despair.

Yours etc.,

Alan Whelan

Killarney, Co. Kerry