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Helping Tired Parents Keep the Faith With Debbie Cowden

Most new parents prepare to lose sleep and free time with the arrival of young children, but many are surprised when their faith life also changes. Father Dave welcomes Debbie Cowden, Senior Digital-Media Specialist for EWTN Global Catholic Network, to talk about her new book co-written with her husband called, “The Prayer Book for Tired Parents: Practical Ways to Grow in Love of God and Get Your Family to Heaven.

Debbie explains that regardless of societal pressures on parents today, one thing is most important for families. “The only thing that matters is that they get to heaven, and we kind of lose sight of that. So we decided to write this book as a way to remind us of our call to holiness and our call to get our children to heaven, but also as a friendly, encouraging reminder to other parents who are going through all the same struggles that we’re going through.”

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“I have never met a parent who is not tired. And it sounds like self deprecation, really. But I think when we have the humility to admit that we’re tired, we really open ourselves up to God’s graces,” she continues. “We can remind ourselves that we can’t do this all on our own. And that the only way that my children can become holy, the only way that I can become holy, is through the grace of God.”

She describes how her prayer life changed once she had kids, especially while attending Mass. “When you have a crying baby, you can’t stay in the pews. So we were basically relegated to the back of the church. And for somebody who always thought that I had a responsibility to contribute to Mass or that somehow the efficacy of my prayers was based on how well I participated, that was really hard for me. And I came to realize that it’s not that my prayer life disappeared, it’s that it changed. And if I could just impart one piece of wisdom on new parents, it would be to lean into the spiritual life of the parent who is standing at the back of the church with the crying baby, and that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass still matters. It still happens, even if you’re standing in the narthex.” 

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Debbie and her husband Dave seek to offer parents tangible ways of increasing faith, such as enthroning your home to Christ and incorporating sacramentals into daily life. The book also includes reflections, inspiration from the saints, and prayers for different parenting scenarios. Father Dave says, “One of the ones I love is ‘St. Thérèse of Lisieux and a Prayer of a Parent during a Child’s Tantrum.’”

“That’s one of my favorites,” Debbie responds. “We know from the letters that St. Zelie would write to her husband, St. Louis, was that Thérèse had a hard time when she was a little girl. And there are times where little three-year-old Thérèse would throw herself on the ground just writhing about, acting as though all were lost. And she still became, not just a saint, but one of the greatest saints in our Church’s history, and a doctor of the Church as well. So there’s hope for that little three-year-old Thérèse, there’s hope for my little toddler, as she is rolling around on the floor acting like the world is ending.”