Catholic Parenting

June 14, 2019

What “Truths” Govern Your Life?

My wife and I were married in June 1980, which was a month after I finished my first year in law school. One of the weekly television shows that we watched together during the first year of our marriage was the prime-time soap opera, Dallas. We’ve come a long way since then. Today, there’s no way we would waste our time on that type of show.

May 18, 2019

A Ghostwriter For Online Dating

Her name is Meredith Golden. She’s 43 years old and lives in New York with her husband and two sons. She has a master’s degree in social work from New York University. According to a recent article in The New York Times, Golden is a professional dating app ghostwriter. The article provided the following summary of what services Golden offers to her clients:

May 11, 2019

Barbie Dolls vs Baby Dolls

After I published last week’s article about the 60th anniversary of the Barbie doll, my mom called me on my cell phone. I wasn’t available when she called, so she left a message. In the message, she said that she had read my article and that in addition to her concern about her daughters’ self-images being affected by the Barbie doll, she was also concerned that with the introduction of a teenage, sexualized version of a doll, there would never be a return to the days when young girls were encouraged to play with baby dolls.

May 4, 2019

Barbie Turns 60 Years Old

March 30, 2019

Religious Extremists and the Vietnam War

I ordinarily attend daily Mass at Sacred Heart Church in downtown Peoria. Last Monday (March 25), I saw my parents at noon Mass and talked to them after the Mass. My mom told me that it was the 58th anniversary of her consecration to the Mother of God. I knew that she had made her consecration years ago, but I was not aware of the actual date.

March 16, 2019

When a Promise Really Isn’t a Promise

Last week, while I was at a local doctor’s office, one of the women who worked there surprised me by asking, “Are you the same Harry Williams who taught business law at Illinois Central College during the 1980s?” I looked at the woman and did not recognize her. I then answered, “Yes, were you in my class?” She replied, “Yes, and I really enjoyed that class.” We then had a short conversation about what she liked about the class.

As I walked out of the doctor’s office, my mind flashed back to the mid-1980s, when I taught Business Law at ICC. I spent a lot of time preparing for that class, but it was worth it. The young, fresh-faced students were captivated by the stories I told about my experience as a lawyer. To make the class more interesting, I intentionally wove stories throughout the material I presented to them. This made an otherwise boring class into an adventure into the inner workings of our justice system.

One of the things that I taught my students was the four basic elements that are required before a contract can be legally binding between two parties. The four elements are:

1. Offer – a promise to act or refrain from acting.

March 9, 2019

Reasons to Value and Protect Hope

On December 12, 2018, Jessica Starr, a popular 35-year-old meteorologist at the Detroit, Michigan WJBK Fox television station, committed suicide.

Last month, Jessica’s husband, Dan Rose, and her mother, Carol Starr, were interviewed on the ABC television show, Good Morning America. Both Dan and Carol said that they believed that Jessica killed herself because of complications that were caused by laser surgery that she had on her eyes in October 2018.

During the interview, Dan stated, “She really knew something was not right within a matter of days. She started to complain of incredibly dry eyes. She had almost no night vision. She had starbursts that she was seeing during the day and at night.”

Carol stated that after the surgery, Jessica lost a significant amount of weight. “I kept saying, ‘Are you eating? Are you okay?’ She kept saying, ‘I’m not eating and I’m not sleeping, Mom. This is worrying me. I don’t think it’s going to get better,’” said Carol.

The surgery that Jessica went through was similar to Lasik eye surgery. The name of the surgery was SMILE, which is an acronym for “small incision lenticule extraction.” With SMILE, a laser is used to make a small opening on the eye to remove a layer of tissue. The removal of the tissue corrects nearsightedness by reshaping the cornea. SMILE surgery is supposed to be less invasive than Lasik.

During the weeks following her surgery, Jessica posted several video diaries on her Facebook page where she talked about complications she was having as a result of the surgery. One of her complaints was that the dryness in her eyes was so bad that she had to use eye drops every five minutes to lubricate her eyes.

When she died, Jessica left behind her husband and two children, a five-year-old and three-year-old.

After her death, Jessica’s family, friends, and coworkers were all in a state of shock. She had never talked about committing suicide. They later concluded that Jessica experienced extreme depression and anxiety about her chronically dry eyes, her lack of night vision, and the starbursts that she was seeing during her waking hours.

Whenever a person experiences chronic pain and/or suffering, there is a possibility that the person will lose hope for the future. This is something that I always talk about when I present an injured client’s case to a jury.

Here’s an example of what I ordinarily say to a jury when I have a client who is experiencing chronic pain and suffering:

The only other thing that I’m going to mention about pain and suffering before I move on is that both pain and suffering interrupt hope for the future. We were all created with a desire for hope.

January 19, 2019

The War Against Real Men

I’ve written before about a confrontation I was involved in when I was in high school. It happened during the second semester of my senior year. At that time, my class schedule was arranged in such a way that every afternoon I passed one of my cousins in the hallway at the same time. I was two years older than my cousin.

On one particular day when I passed him in the hallway, he had a look of fear on his face and was moving at a fast pace. When I turned around to see what was going on, I noticed that there was a bully chasing him. I was familiar with the bully because he was the younger brother of a boy who had bullied me when I was in eighth grade.

I immediately chased after my cousin and the bully. By the time I caught up with them, the bully had knocked my cousin’s books out of his hand. The books were scattered all over the floor. While my cousin was on his knees attempting to pick up his books, the bully was standing over him taunting him and telling him that he was going to kick his a**.

I calmly helped my cousin pick up his books. As I handed the last book to my cousin, the bully was still taunting him. I bolted toward the bully and knocked him down. As he was getting up, I shouted at him: “If you want to fight him, you’re going to have to go through me first! We can take care of this now or after school. Which one do you want — now or later?”

The bully stood up and raised both of his hands in front of him with his palms facing toward me and said, “Hey man, this isn’t between you and me. You don’t have anything to do with this. It’s between me and him. I don’t want to fight you.” I told the bully that he was going to have to fight me first, but he repeated, “I don’t want to fight you. This isn’t between me and you.”

I then got in his face and shouted, “If you ever lay a hand on him, I will hunt you down and beat you into the ground! Do you understand? You’re not to ever touch him or talk to him again. Do you understand me?” At that point, the bully stepped back and looked around at the crowd of students that had formed a circle around us. In a defiant tone of voice, he shouted, “Yea, I understand!” Then he turned around, pushed his way through the students, and disappeared into the crowd.

I walked my cousin to his next class and told him that if the bully ever talked to him or bothered him again to let me know. He thanked me for sticking up for him and walked into the classroom. For the next few weeks, I asked my cousin every day if the bully said anything to him or bothered him. The answer was always “No.”

I took a risk that day when I confronted the bully. I knew that there was a school policy in place that anyone who got into a fight on school grounds was automatically suspended for three days, regardless of the reason for the fight. It was a policy that was enforced and I knew that if I ended up getting into a fight, I was going to be suspended.

But I wasn’t worried about it because while I was growing up, my dad had made it clear to me and my eight brothers that if anyone ever bullied or laid a hand on any of our sisters or family members, he expected us to step in and take care of the person who was causing the trouble. I knew that if I stuck up for my cousin, my dad would not have any problem with me being suspended. In fact, he would be proud of me for taking the matter into my own hands.

I thought about that high school incident last week when I heard about the marketing video that the razor blade company, Gillette, had released. In the video, there were numerous men who were depicted as jerks and bullies. What was shown in the video was the exact opposite of what had been shown in a commercial that Gillette released in 1989. That commercial showed fathers hugging their sons, a dad cuddling his newborn child, men proudly working at their jobs, athletes competing at events, a man and a woman on their wedding day, and a young man running toward the woman he loved, and then embracing her.

It was a great commercial that ended with the tagline “The Best a Man Can Get.” The commercial showed the heroic qualities that men who have the right values, motivations, and ambitions can achieve. It was an extremely positive commercial that lifted the viewers’ spirits.

The video that was released by Gillette last week was the exact opposite of the 1989 commercial. At the beginning of the video, the voices in the background commented on bullying, violence, toxic masculinity, and the #MeToo movement. Then an announcer in the background said, “Is this the best a man can get?”

The video then showed images of boys bullying each other and men harassing women. To top everything off, the video showed a long row of mean and nasty looking men who were standing in front of their outdoor grills with their arms crossed. They kept repeating, “boys will be boys, boys will be boys, boys will be boys.”

Then the video showed a few decent men intervening to save the victims from bullying. At the same time, in the background, the announcer lectured the viewers about what they needed to be doing to correct their behavior. The implication was that this type of nasty, cruel, and predatory behavior was typical of all men. The message was that, by nature, men are the worst that they can be and they need to work at being better.

You will never see an ad from Gillette or any other company that implies that all women make false sexual abuse allegations, do everything in their power to deny the fathers of their children visitation rights after a divorce, and do whatever they can to ruin the reputation of the men they were once romantically involved with. Such an ad would immediately (and rightfully) be condemned. But for some reason, men are fair game when it comes to sticking them all in the same evil category.

Over the past several months, there’s been a constant drumbeat in the media that claims that all men are not only mean and evil, but they are also sexual predators. There is a term that is being used to label these men: “toxic masculinity.”

While that term has only been around for a couple of years, over the past several months, it’s been highlighted and featured in several articles and newscasts. Here’s how the Urban Dictionary defines the term “toxic masculinity”:

Toxic Masculinity is a term that far leftists use to try to manipulate real men into feeling shameful for being themselves and feeling like normal men do. They try to associate things like rape and physical abuse to that of normal masculine behavior without any substantiation, and try to group everyone into a category rather than deal with people and their actions on an individual basis.

December 22, 2018

Can We Stop Sending Christmas Newsletters?

For the past several years, Georgette and I have done what a lot of families do during the Christmas season — mail a Christmas newsletter and a picture of our family to our relatives and friends. When we started mailing the newsletter, it was less than a page long, but over the years, as our family grew with marriages and grandchildren, the newsletter eventually expanded to four pages of text (two pages, front and back).

A few years ago, Georgette and I decided that we were going to discontinue the newsletter. While we had received compliments over the years from various individuals, we felt that four pages were excessive and that it was unreasonable to expect people with busy lives to sit down and read a four-page newsletter about our family.

We announced to our children that we were going to discontinue the Christmas newsletter. Our youngest daughter Teresa refused to accept our decision and told us that if we weren’t going to write the newsletter, she was going to do it on her own. She then proceeded to do exactly what she threatened she would do. She wrote a four-page newsletter. We didn’t want to offend her, especially after she had taken the time to write it, so we mailed the newsletter with our family picture.

Every year since then, Georgette and I have told Teresa that a newsletter was not necessary, but she has consistently insisted that she be allowed to carry on the tradition. This year, I actually thought that Teresa would finally relent and give up on her quest to continue writing the newsletter. Why? Because at the ripe young age of 22, she works the equivalent of two full-time jobs. Her first job is with a local company as a web designer, photographer, and graphic designer. Her second “job” is her own wedding photography business (photographsbyteresa.com).

I was wrong about Teresa being too busy to write the newsletter. As usual, she refused to take no for an answer and wrote the newsletter. Here’s how she began the newsletter:

I received a text message last week. It was from my dad. This is what his message said:

Contact