If a planning team is in place, it can create an optimal environment and build structures that can positively impact the program. It is helpful, therefore, if each member of the team understands the program well. Encourage them to read the support information found on this website, and to sample the lesson packages at various levels.
Pastor Involvement and Guidance
The pastor should be informed early that you have chosen the Conversations about L.I.F.E. program. Ideally he will be the one to introduce the program to the parish and to encourage the parents to attend. This can be opportunity for him, in his role as the pastor, to explain to his parishioners the importance of talking to their children about relationships, sexuality, chastity, and the sad reality of sexual abuse. He could explain that the L.I.F.E. program will provide the special time and context for these important parent-child conversations to take place at each stage in the child’s relational development. Invite the pastor to attend one or more sessions. Doing this would show his support, encourage the directors and facilitators, and to help validate their message.
To set the program off on the right foot, it is helpful to have some clerical and administrative assistance, people to ensure the participation of both children and parents, to secure a place to offer sessions, and to set up the sessions properly.
Role of the catechetical leader, principal, or program director:
- Become familiar with all aspects of the Conversations about L.I.F.E. program and decide to offer it in their parish/school.
- Study the background and foundations of the program.
- Recruit program facilitators for all age-level sessions and provide for their training. (In some instances, the catechetical leaders themselves act as program facilitators)
- Offer an explanatory overview session for all parents (optional but highly recommended).
- Set the dates for the sessions: one parent-child session for each age level, each year. (We recommend that these sessions not be held at the regular religious education time but be introduced as a separate, special parent-child experience. When sessions are offered at the regular time, children often arrive without their parents.)
- Put the L.I.F.E. sessions on the annual parish and school calendar and distribute this to all parents at the beginning of the year.
- Prepare and disseminate promotional material—letters to parents, bulletin announcements, and registration forms.
- If possible and necessary, arrange for childcare during the sessions for any younger children who may accompany parents.
- Invite the regular catechists/teachers to attend the L.I.F.E. sessions and arrange that they be prepared to be dialogue partners with any child who may arrive without a parent.
- Prepare the space for the sessions: family groupings at tables, space for large-group gatherings of children and parents, projection equipment for PowerPoint slides, walking microphone for facilitator, registration table and name tags, refreshments.
We also recommend that a team of trained facilitators be created in your diocese or area. The members of this team can work together to present the L.I.F.E. sessions, to shadow one another during the learning process, and to train new recruits.
We recommend a team of two facilitators for each session.
Each session should be presented by well-prepared program facilitators. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of being prepared for each session. The facilitators must be able to present the content in a comfortable and engaging manner, to explain and guide the small group activities, and to be confident and at ease in responding to questions from parents and/or children. It is paramount that the facilitators have all of the materials ready to hand out when needed, so as to make the experience as seamless as possible. Each lesson package offers all of the information necessary to make sure facilitators are prepared to host a session properly.
All facilitators are required to:
- Study the background and foundations of the Conversations about L.I.F.E. program as found on this GetFamiliesTalking.org website.
- Prepare to facilitate the particular grade level session(s) they will be teaching by printing the lesson plan, studying it thoroughly, coordinating it with the PowerPoint, making personal note cards, and practicing difficult sections as needed.
- Prepare all materials needed for the session, as described in each lesson plan: pens and pencils, activity books, handouts, project materials (crayons, scissors, etc.) for each table.
- Present the session with strong, humble confidence, secure in the belief that God’s Holy Spirit will be working through them.
Once facilitators become comfortable with the material, they are encouraged to help recruit and train new L.I.F.E. facilitators.
Parents have the primary responsibility for providing their children with ongoing information on relationships and sexuality, as well as for protecting them from abuse of all kinds. The Conversations about L.I.F.E. program is designed to help them fulfill both of these obligations.
One or both parents are required to participate in the program with each of their children at each grade level. (It is recommended that children of other ages are not to be included in the special grade-level session. Childcare for them should be provided by the parish if possible.)
Parents will follow the directives of the facilitator in explaining the material to their own child, in discussing the concepts that are presented by the facilitator, and in the prayers and blessings. Parents should also continue the discussion at home as the opportunity arises.
When the Classroom Adaptation is used, the parents are responsible to read carefully the materials in the Parent Follow-up Packet, to set aside the time needed to talk with their child about the material, and to fill out and return the Response Sheet.
Program Catechists and Classroom Teachers
The role of the regular catechists and classroom teachers is to encourage all of their students to come to the Conversations about L.I.F.E. sessions and to bring their parents. Ideally, they also attend the sessions as participants or as observers in order to show their support, to become informed, and to be prepared to do follow-up in their classroom settings as needed. Of course, they are also encouraged learn how to facilitate the program.
The tasks of the catechists/teachers include:
- Disseminate promotional materials and collect registrations.
- Encourage the children to recruit their parents to attend with them.
- Welcome the parents and children as they arrive; assist in registration, name tags, etc.
- Participate in the session as observers to be prepared to answer questions in future classes.
- Partner with any children who may arrive at the session without their parents.
Building an Efficient Program
Taking the time to set the program up correctly from the very beginning will help to ensure that the Conversations about L.I.F.E. program can run smoothly year after year. When done diligently, the program is an efficient use of time for the participating parents, facilitators, and leadership team. This program was designed so parishes, schools, and faith programs can offer a single session per year for each age level of children—to build loving relationships and to receive appropriate guidance on safe environments.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more, contact us!
Foundations and Principles: Education for Love
The Conversations about L.I.F.E. program is based on sound theological, catechetical, and educational principles which are drawn from a combination of sources. The sources include papal encyclicals and other Vatican documents, several publications issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), as well as pedagogical principles based on the work of specialists in the fields of catechesis and character education.
Many of these documents use the phrase “education for love” when referring to sexuality education. Click below to download a pdf that reviews the foundational documents and principles. Please feel free to print this document for further study.
For years the Church has been telling me that I’m supposed to help parents talk to their own kids about sex, but no one has showed me how to do that. The L.I.F.E. program shows me HOW.
I got more positive feedback after the L.I.F.E. Program than any other offering. This worked for any parent with any child. The materials were easy to use and engaged the attendees. Thank you for creating a program that involves parents and that calls us to recognize loving relationships in our lives.
Our son talked. He never really talks to us… but he talked!
One parent-child session a year for each grade level. I can do that.