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Header - Family Tip 3 - Learning Communication Skills 

If children are to develop into effective people,
the process must begin when they are small.
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

 

 

Communication is a learned skill

Rose KennedySo knew Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy who brought up a generation of statesmen.

True, the Kennedy scenario was a tragic disappointment on many fronts. But doubtlessly the family had outstanding qualities that, if sanctified, could have edified the nation.

The book Times to Remember by Rose Kennedy, reveals a woman of admirable traits, who instilled much good in her family, and strived to bring out the best in each of her children. Rose spoke several languages, was well read, informed, and cultured.

For her, dinner time was the ultimate quality-time with her children, and she made it a priority to take advantage of this hour together.

Rose’s father, once the mayor of Boston, had the curious habit of pinning news clippings to his lapel and commenting on them. As a young girl Rose benefited from the talks these clippings generated.

 

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The Message Board

When raising her family, she came up with a similar idea. On a convenient wall she hung a message board on which she pinned news-clippings. The children were required to read, or at least “scan” one or two clippings and be ready to comment at the dinner table.

Though the clippings encouraged deep discussions, Rose was careful to ensure that meals did not become dry “mental drill sessions”1 but retained the natural pep of a family gathering. As she raised questions, prodded, discussed, debated, and laughed with her children, she also kept a vigilant eye that the louder ones did not hush the quieter ones. The children not only learned to express ideas but to listen – the “secret of secrets” of good conversation. Rose made meal-time a stimulating game–she was the “coach” and all were expected to play as a team.

Given the different age brackets in her large family, Rose sat the tiny ones at a small table (my own mother’s practice as well) so that they could enjoy their prattle and not disturb the older ones.

As they grew, they graduated to the larger table. At home, this “graduation” was something to look forward to.

Notice board

How-To’s, Benefits and Updates

Today good news is scarce. So such a message board would need to include clips from other life venues: nature stories, positive clips from books or magazines, church bulletins, stories of saints and heroes, excerpts from sermons, Bible quotes, famous quotes, Catechism passages, info on gardening, cooking, art and music, snippets on countries and languages–or whatever the specific interest of each family.

With a trendy range of message boards out there, this can be made a fascinating corner of the home, a project involving one and all.

The idea is to get the children to “converse” not just jabber or retreat into isolation. Quoting from Mrs. Kennedy in Times to Remember, “[children]…can’t just suddenly as teen-agers, bloom into remarkable conversationalists or speakers or suddenly acquire the mental quickness, emotional poise or knowledge needed.”2 She adds that ease in conversation, and social confidence don’t happen without preparation and effort, and this preparation should begin as early as age five.

In fact, with the disappearance of the dinner table, social confidence has suffered. Today, many lack social confidence, and struggle with phobias not knowing how to act or what to say in company. Whole books and courses have been written on the subject.

 

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Electronic Gadgets

An “updating note” is that social savvy can be largely impaired by the electronic gadgetry scenario.

Beginning with TV, the electronic world invites minds to “roam” rather than think analytically and in a way, the electronic device does the “thinking” for the viewer. But now, with small electronics at fingertips, a new addiction is at play providing a very incomplete means of human communication which does little to satisfy our human social need.

While small electronics have their use, in the deeper, interpersonal sense, these gadgets can hamper thinking processes and communication skills. Comments, articles, videos, posts and cartoons abound on the subject.

So a must by the message board is a basket–if needed– where all electronic gadgets are deposited. No cellphones, ipads, ipods at the family table.

But that is one thing Rose Kennedy did not have to contend with.

 

Unfortunately, the Kennedys veered off the path of faith and morality, and ultimately were not a shining example to America. But no one can deny they could navigate socially, were fascinating communicators, and even lead brilliantly at times.

It all started at the dinner table.

 


1 Times to Remember, by Rose F. Kennedy, pgs.106, 107
2 Ibid.

Written and Illustrated by A.F. Phillips

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for July 5, 2020

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do...

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July 5

 

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.
We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence,
but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.
We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

Aristotle


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Elizabeth of Portugal

Her goodness went as far as raising her husband’s illegiti...

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St. Elizabeth of Portugal

Elizabeth of Portugal known as “The Holy Queen” was born Isabel of Aragon in Zaragoza, Spain, the daughter of King Pedro III of Aragon and Queen Constanza of Naples. She was named after her great aunt, St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

From childhood, having received a most Christian upbringing, she learned to practice self-discipline, mortification of wayward tendencies, the avoidance of sin and the pursuit of virtue, prayer and union with God’s holy will.

Beautiful, talented and good, she was sought in marriage by several European monarchs, and was ultimately betrothed by proxy at the age of thirteen to King Dinis of Portugal.

A year and a half later she arrived in Portugal to assume her responsibilities as queen. Although he was an able ruler, her husband had an irate temper and sinful habits. While he respected and revered his queen, he was unfaithful to her and had several illegitimate children.

Elizabeth bore the conjugal betrayal with exquisite patience and heroic magnanimity, praying continuously for her wayward spouse. She and Dinis had two children: Constanza and Alfonso.

The young queen started her day with Mass and prayer, and then proceeded to see to the governance of her palace. In the free moments she sewed and embroidered with her ladies for the poor, and personally tended to their needs. Afternoons were dedicated to the care of the elderly, the poor or anyone else in want.

Amazingly talented, Elizabeth mastered several languages, sang beautifully, and enjoyed a remarkable understanding of engineering and architecture. She herself designed and oversaw the building of several churches, monasteries and hospitals, developing her own “Elizabethan Style.”

One day while inspecting a construction site, a girl approached and gave her a bouquet of flowers. The queen then distributed the flowers, one to each of the workers saying: “Let’s see if today you will work hard and well for this pay.” The men reverently placed their flower each in his own satchel, only to find, at the end of the day, a gold coin in place of the flower.

In her city Elizabeth built hostels for the poor, a hospital, a house for repentant wayward women, a free school for girls, and a hospice for abandoned children. She built bridges in dangerous places, visited and procured doctors for the ill, and endowed poor girls for the convent or for marriage. She kept a beautiful tiara and wedding dress to lend to poor brides so they could “shine” or their special day. Her goodness went as far as raising her husband’s illegitimate children.

A great devotee of the Immaculate Conception of Mary Most Holy centuries before the dogma was declared; she obtained from the bishop of Coimbra the establishment of the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, which was afterwards observed with great solemnity throughout the whole country.

A constant peacemaker, the holy queen ironed out many a conflict between bellicose rulers and nobles. Twice she reconciled her husband and son, on one occasion, even interposing her person between them in the battlefield.
In the end, Dinis died a most repentant man. In one of his poems he left his ultimate tribute to his ultimate queen:

God made you without peer
In goodness of heart and speech
As your equal does not exist,
My love, my lady, I thus sing:
Had God so wished,
You’d made a great king.  

After her husband’s death, Elizabeth took the habit of a Franciscan Tertiary and retired near a convent of Poor Clares which she had built, dedicating herself to the sick and the poor.

The saintly queen died at age sixty-five invoking Our Lady, and was canonized in 1625 by Pope Urban VIII who had vowed not to canonize anyone during his pontificate. He made the exception for Elizabeth at being promptly healed of a serious illness after praying to her.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

The young men began to boast of some foolish love affairs. N...

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A Young Man and His Lady Love

In twelfth century England, a group of young men had gathered and were bragging of their various feats, as young men have done since the beginning of time.

The lively conversation went from archery to sword fighting to horsemanship, each trying to outdo the accomplishments of the others.

Finally, the young men began to boast of some foolish love affairs. Not to be outdone by his peers, a noble youth named Thomas declared that he, too, loved a great lady, and was beloved by her.

Thomas of Canterbury meant the most holy Virgin as the object of his affection, but afterwards, he felt some remorse at having made this boast. He did not want to offend his beloved Lady in any way.

Seeing all from her throne in heaven, Mary appeared to him in his trouble, and with a gracious sweetness said to him: "Thomas, what do you fear? You had reason to say that you loved me, and that you are beloved by me. Assure your companions of this, and as a pledge of the love I bear you, show them this gift that I make you."

The gift was a small box, containing a chasuble, blood-red in color. Mary, for the love she bore him, had obtained for him the grace to be a priest and a martyr, which indeed happened, for he was first made priest and afterwards Bishop of Canterbury, in England.

Many years later, he would indeed be persecuted by the king, and Thomas fled to the Cistercian monastery at Pontignac, in France.

Far from kith and kin, but never far from his Lady Love, he was attempting to mend his hair-cloth shirt that he usually wore and had ripped. Not being able to do it well, his beloved queen appeared to him, and, with special kindness, took the haircloth from his hand, and repaired it as it should be done.

After this, at the age of 50, he returned to Canterbury and died a martyr, having been put to death on account of his zeal for the Church.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

The young men began to boast of some foolish love affairs. Not to be outdone by his peers, a noble youth named Thomas declared that he, too, loved a great lady, and was beloved by her.

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