For Parents

What is meant by “Theology of the Body”

Applications for today’s parents, youth and young adults

Pope John Paul II explores the purpose of our existence in his work entitled Theology of the Body

Freedom, truth, gift, communion, dignity, love, personhood, significance: These are themes found throughout the writings of Pope John Paul II. Long before he became Pope, as Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, he influenced the writing of several documents from Vatican II, including Gaudium et SpesThe Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.  “Man is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, [and he] cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” (GES 24)

We must first know the purpose of our existence and what we were created for if we are to live a fully meaningful life. Prior to his election as pope, he wrote a book, Love and Responsibility in which he presents the Catholic Church’s teaching on love and sexuality in a way that makes sense to modern men and women.

He emphasized the dignity of the human person and shows how important it is to live our sexuality in a way which upholds and affirms the other person. Indeed, the true lover will never use another person or treat her as a means to an end.

In his Theology of the Body John Paul II digs deep into the meaning of being a human person based on Scripture. As a person with a body and soul, made in the image and likeness of God, we find the meaning of life through finding out what it means to be an image of God and what our bodies have to do with it. We not only become images of God through the gift of free will, but also through being in communion with others. “To be human means to be called to interpersonal communion.” Why? Because God himself is a communion of persons in the Trinity.

 He explains, “Man became the “image and likeness” of God not only through his own humanity, but also through the communion of persons which man and woman form right from the beginning.” (TOB, Nov. 14, 1979) “Man Cannot Live Without Love.” A “communion of persons” occurs when two people freely give themselves to each other and accept one another in love. In fact, true love consists precisely in this mutual self-gift. As we see in the Gospels, the main point of the Christian life is to love. John Paul II’s other favorite quote from Gaudium et Spes tells us that, “Christ … fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.”

 What does Christ reveal but that, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”? (Jn. 15:13) It is Christ himself who reveals to us our basic vocation as persons by giving himself to us in his death on the Cross. Through his Theology of the Body, John Paul II presents the Gospel message of love in a deep, and profound way. He knows that love is what all people seek. He says, “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience love. In His Resurrection, Jesus reveals to us the ultimate, eternal dignity of the human being.

Excerpted and adapted from Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body publication © 2003 Resurrection Publications P.O. Box 21357 • Cheyenne, WY 82003-• discuss the Theology of the Body.

Helpful Resources

Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family website has resources for parents raising children through various transitional stages. Radio broadcasts of interviews with noted Christian authors who specialize in child development can be heard or the transcripts read. The warm and conversational approach of the interviews offers reassurance to listeners.

Ages 13-18 | Focus on the Family
Episode. Navigating the Challenges Teens Face (Part 2 of 2) In a discussion based on his book Understanding Your Teen, Jim Burns offers advice for how parents can help their teens deal with the challenging issues they face, including the use of technology and social media, peer pressure, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, the transition to adulthood, and more.

Age of Opportunity

Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence by Laurence Steinberg

A leading authority draws on new research to explain why the adolescent years are so developmentally crucial, and what we must do to raise happier, more successful teens.

Adolescence now lasts longer than ever before. And as world-renowned expert on adolescent psychology Dr. Laurence Steinberg argues, this makes these years the key period in determining individuals’ life outcomes, demanding that we change the way we parent, educate, and understand young people
In Age of Opportunity, Steinberg leads readers through a host of new findings — including groundbreaking original research — that reveal what the new timetable of adolescence means for parenting 13-year-olds (who may look more mature than they really are) versus 20-somethings (who may not be floundering even when it looks like they are). He also explains how the plasticity of the adolescent brain, rivaling that of years 0 through 3, suggests new strategies for instilling self-control during the teenage years. Packed with useful knowledge, Age of Opportunity … an essential guide for parents and educators of teenagers.

Hardcover, 272 pages

Published September 9th 2014 by Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2014)

Raising Resilient Children

Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child by Robert B. Brooks, Sam Goldstein

Top psychologists offer expert insight and practical advice for raising youth in today’s complicated world.

The increased stress, pressure, and demands on children today have caused an alarming increase in childhood depression, health disorders, and antisocial behavior. However, numerous scientific studies of children facing great adversity have shown just how important resilience is for successful growth. This book synthesizes a large body of literature on the concept of resilience, exploring why some children are able to overcome overwhelming obstacles while others become victims of early experiences and environments. The book demonstrates how resilience must be applied to every parenting practice to prepare our children for the challenges of today's world, explains how many parents, despite the best intentions, unwittingly undermine their children's capacity for resilience, and offers effective strategies for identifying and eliminating these "negative scripts." The chapters of the book are: (1) "The Dreams and Wishes of Parents"; (2) "Teaching and Conveying Empathy"; (3) "Communicating Effectively: To Listen, To Learn, To Influence"; (4) "Changing the Words of Parenting: Rewriting Negative Scripts"; (5) "Loving Our Children in Ways that Help Them Feel Special and Appreciated"; (6) "Accepting Our Children for Who They Are: The Foundation for Setting Realistic Goals and Expectations"; (7) "Experiencing Success: Nurturing Islands of Competence"; (8) "Learning from Mistakes"; (9) "Developing Responsibility, Compassion, and a Social Conscience"; (10) "Teaching Our Children To Make Decisions and Solve Problems"; (11) "Disciplining in Ways that Promote Self-Discipline and Self-Worth"; (12) "The Alliance between Parents and Schools"; and (13) "Hope and Courage." The book's appendix presents guideposts and principles for raising resilient children drawn from each of the chapters. Contains a list of recommended readings and 11 references. (HTH)

Published September 18th 2002 by McGraw-Hill Education (first published 2001)

Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers

by Michael Riera

This perennial bestseller (with more than 100,000 copies sold) has been completely revised and updated for a new generation of teenagers and their parents.

Since its initial publication in 1995, Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers has ushered countless families through the trying years of adolescence. In this fully revised and updated edition, Riera tackles some of the newest issues facing parents and teens, and gives a second look to the old standbys—alcohol and drugs, academics, sex and dating, sports and extracurriculars, eating disorders, making friends, single parenting, divorce, and more. Riera channels his unpatronizing approach and two decades of experience working with teens into this optimistic and indispensable book. 

Paperback, Third Edition, 256 pages

Published August 14th 2012 by Ten Speed Press (first published May 1995)

Future workshops may be offered that focus on Resiliency and Self-Esteem, featuring a curriculum for adolescents 9th-12th grade aimed at building confidence and self-esteem, teaching coping skills and tools for effective communication, educating about healthy relationships and friendships, and facilitating learning about distress tolerance and emotional regulation.

Please contact us to let us know if such workshops are of interest.