Dear Holly
I have an inablity to create a working rule (or any kind of peace and order) for myself and our family. We have five kids, from infant to teens. My husband and I both work full-time ~ this is a necessity where we live because we just couldn’t get our bills paid. We’re up to our necks in debt.

We’ve been on the brink of divorce several times and I can’t recall a time when the atmosphere at our home has been calm and peaceful except when the oldest two kids were small. Since then there’s always been some strain. There’s no problems of violence or substance abuse or anything like that, ‘just’ selfishness on both sides, mutual disrespect. When I started working, all of a sudden my husband expected me to pay all the bills and use the money he earned only for his own needs. Another area where I have been building up resentment is contraception. I’ve had difficulty learning NFP and my husband has counseled me to have abortions, and has seemed glad when I’ve had my many miscarriages. About parenting, we’ve never had any kind of discussion with my husband about principles, I feel so alone there too. All we are capable to do is blame each other when something goes wrong.

I was given a free upbringing myself and somehow I just subconciously feel I’m restraining the children or something when I try to get them to do their chores or just to obey. I guess I just don’t know better, even though I’ve read tons of books on parenting. I’m happy that the kids have turned out pretty good despite, just lazy, but no major problems. But I feel I’m running out of time with the older kids, they’ll be soon leaving home and what kind of education have I given them.

Around six years ago, I had a conversion to Christianity – there I just didn’t have anyone else to turn to anymore than Jesus, whom I had never seriously prayed to before, and He helped, gave me some peace. Then Pope John Paul II passed away and I began reading his teachings on morality and found they were just wonderful, continued praying, and mustered up the courage to go to a Catholic Church. I couldn’t understand much of the Mass, and even less of the Adoration that followed, but on the spot I knew that this was the Church I wanted to be part of. No any kind of dramatic conversion experience, but it just felt the right thing to do. I was received to the Church a few year’s back. I haven’t been depressed since.

My husband was baptised Catholic, but I had never seen him go to a Catholic church since I’d met him until I dragged him there. The standard answer is “I can pray at home”. In any case he has some reverence for the priests,proved by the way he listens to any kind of advice he gets from them. I know I should just try to be more kind and loving, let the love of God speak for itself and not even try to preach. But I’m such a beginner myself that it’s very difficult. And at least to the children I’ve understood that it is my duty to ‘preach’, to teach them our faith. Except that to this one of my teens always replies something like ‘it’s not my faith, I hate it, it was much better when we never went to church, I will leave the Church the minute I turn 18’ and so on. I really don’t know what to say to all that.

Do you have any thoughts about where I ought to begin?