Pope Francis on Fathers

20 Jun


“Every family needs a father — a father who shares in his family’s joy and pain, hands down wisdom to his children and offers them firm guidance and love.”

~Pope Francis

Today, I am remembering my maternal grandfather and all he did for me.


Why This Year’s High School Graduates Fill Me With Hope

10 Jun

Graduation Hope

When I look at the horizon of this year’s class of high school graduates, I am nothing less than elated.

I see:

Empathy demonstrated by the senior class of Profile High in New Hampshire. These altruistic graduates decided to forego a 4-day trip to a camp in the Adirondacks and give $8,000 raised over four years to their principal. Administrator Courtney Vashaw has recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

It is important to Vashaw that her students learn the importance of helping others.  A lesson learned is now assisting this fine educator with the cost of her own medical treatment.

Engineering innovation in a high school senior from Vancouver, Canada, who developed a new air filter system to prevent the spread of germs in airplane circulation systems.  Raymond Wang won $75,000 in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May.

Entrepreneurial and charitable spirit in Asya Gonzalez, who has been successfully operating an apparel and accessories business, Stinky Feet Gurlz, since her freshman year.  This extraordinary high school senior contributes a portion of each sale to her foundation, “She is Worth It,” which works to prevent child sex trafficking.  Aysa, a student from Centennial, Colorado will be attending the University of Denver next year.

Enormous hearts, minds and passion stir a sense of sanguine anticipation in me.

Knowing that these amazing graduates are a mere sampling of the approximately 3.3 million students graduating from high school this season puts a spring in my step and a song of hope in my heart.

So, as this mom proudly watches her firstborn son walk across the stage to receive his diploma today, she will be overwhelmed with optimism.

Thank you, John, for studying so hard and becoming the young man I am grateful to call my own.

Thank you, Profile High Seniors, for learning the lesson your principal worked so very hard to teach you.

Thank you, Raymond Wang, for working to prevent the spread of disease by air travel.

And finally, thank you, Asya Gonzalez, for caring about the more than 100,000 children sold into sex slavery each year.

You all give me faith in the future.

Congratulations 2015 high school graduates!

I’ll be looking forward to the many ways you make our world a better place.


Better Than an Acceptance to Harvard

30 May

Happy Daughter
  Author’s Note:  The following was published previously in the Huffington Post, on Friday, May 29, 2015.


The din of the coffeehouse diminished into the background as my dear friend whispered the words that described her reason for immense joy.

“My daughter went out to dinner with us last week for the first time in a year. She actually sat in a restaurant for an hour and ate and laughed and experienced happiness unimpeded by a nagging sense of fear. It meant more to me than if she’d been accepted to Harvard.”

Sarah and I have been meeting regularly since last spring when her youngest child became nearly immobilized by worry and was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. We have laughed and cried over cups of tea during our frequent get-togethers to discuss her teenage daughter’s progress. Her beautiful young girl has felt so plagued by panic that she’s spent months afraid to leave her home.

Wow. Nothing like getting a little reality check over sips of Darjeeling. As mothers, we often take so much for granted.

My children go to school each day.

My children have friends.

My children go out to dinner with our family.

However, the reality is that not every kid is able to participate in everyday activities. In fact, anxiety disorders afflict about 1 in 10 high school students. Among other symptoms, these teens may have difficulty sleeping, experience an inability to concentrate and refuse to go to school. Fortunately, quality mental health care can help teens to live happier, productive lives.

For my friend and her husband, getting into the car with their daughter and going out for tacos was a profoundly cherished experience.

I am humbled and elated by the news.

Yep. She’s right. The gift of having a daughter return to enjoying life again must feel even better than an acceptance to a world-class university.

May is National Mental Health Month. Many thanks to the excellent professionals who dedicate their lives to helping improve the psychological and emotional well-being of teens. These amazing human beings dedicate their days to making life worth living for those like Sarah’s daughter, who suffer from mental health issues.


Remembering the Sacrifice

25 May

Memorial Day 2015

Memorial Day 2015

Please Don’t Tell Me I’m a Saint

13 May


I was reminded recently that moms of children with chronic illness often bristle when others view them as “saints” whom God has chosen.  It may feel like rubbing salt into a deeply painful wound when a mother is told that God has selected them to care for their fragile child “because He knows that they can handle it.”

For this reason, I am re-blogging this post from May 2014.


Life is extremely taxing on the mother (father and the entire family) when a child lives with a chronic medical condition.  Moms are often relied upon to be the “rock” for the child and the family.

In many ways, it is almost impossible to describe this experience.

Every mother is unique.

Every child with a chronic medical condition is unique.

Every family unit is unique.

Some mothers have been found to experience:

  • clinical depression and anxiety (which can occur at twice the rate in this population)
  • isolation and stress brought on by the high cost of medical care
  • inadequate support from their spouse

Fortunately, research has demonstrated that struggling families of children with long-term medical afflictions can be strengthened by the experience.

I have witnessed this with my own eyes.  Some moms say they have the “rock” of faith.  Others cite phenomenal support from extended family, friends and physicians.  Still others say that both faith and social support helps them to cope.

But, the fact remains that these moms are dealing with extremely stressful situations. Some families don’t fair as well as others. Divorce may ensue.

For any moms who are looking for online support, here are some resources:

Caring for a Seriously Ill Child

Four Lessons from a Mother of a Chronically Ill Child

Financial Management During Crisis

Parenting a Chronically Ill Teen

For now, I send to my dear friends (you know who you are) a big hug, a non-judgmental ear whenever you may need one, and the promise that I will NEVER say that you are a saint for dealing with such demanding day-to-day care.  I know how much that bothers each of you!  It is unfair and no one has the right to interpret why you were given this child to raise.  I know how deep your love is for your precious one.  The rest is for you each to understand in your own way.

Sending each of you my love and the promise that I will ALWAYS be there (if God allows).hearthandsFor those of you who may have family members or friends with a chronically ill child, please share this post with them (if you feel it is appropriate).

Believe me, they need all of the support they can receive.



Thank You for Two Years!

12 May


Dear Readers:

Today, I am celebrating the 2nd anniversary of The Clear Parent!

I would like to thank each and every one of you who has taken the time to read my posts, comment and email me privately.  You have given me hope, encouragement and inspiration.

Please accept my sincerest gratitude,

Catie Pane

Remembering My Mother

10 May

Mother's Day 2013

This post is in honor of my mother, Irene, who passed away 11 years ago.

I read this at her funeral.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned from My Mother

It has been said by Robert Fulghum that “all I really need to know I learned in kindergarten,” but I am of the belief that the most important lessons in my life were learned at the feet of my mother.

These are the most significant:

Worship God.

Love your children equally.

Cherish friendships.

People are more important than things.

Be forgiving.

Enjoy a good joke.

Don’t ever retire.  Volunteer and serve others.

Spend money wisely.  A person never wastes money waiting to spend it.

Simple and few are better than complicated and many.

Eat balanced meals.

Don’t waste resources.  Even a small scrap of paper is worth saving to write a note or two.

Rest in the afternoon.

Read good books:  Some informational, some spiritual, and some purely recreational.

Most importantly: Whatever life brings you, always count your blessings.

These are lessons learned over a lifetime, as my relationship with my mother changed from her caring for me as a baby to latter years when we chatted on the phone long distance or sat at the table enjoying each other’s company.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.  Faith and love and trust.  Economics, equality, ecology, and healthy living.

AND at the risk of offending those great kindergarten teachers out there, life lessons are just that:  lessons learned over a lifetime, not in one short year.  I am so very grateful that I had a mother who was patient enough to lovingly school me in the classroom of life.

 ~Catie Pane

Robotics Rhapsody

27 Apr

You have teenagers thinking they’re going to make millions as NBA stars when that’s not realistic for even one percent of them.

Becoming a scientist or engineer is.

~Dean Kamen, Founder, FIRST Robotics

Hoping this brings you joy and hope on this beautiful Monday morning.


Loving Gracious Professionalism

24 Apr

As I looked out over the crowd of fans cheering in the Edward Jones Dome, my heart swelled with myriad thoughts and emotions.

Admiration for the thousands of hours students dedicate to a push-it-to-the-limits and beyond engineering endeavor.

Joy for the special place these scholars find in satisfaction of the pursuit of excellence in robotics.

Peace in knowing that win or lose, “Gracious Professionalism,” coined by MIT Professor Emeritus Woodie Flowers as the guiding principle for participants in FIRST Roboticswill ultimately make these students better human beings.

And the world a better place.

Signing off from the FIRST World Robotics Championships in St. Louis,


Parental Paradigm

12 Apr


Live so that when your children think of fairness,
caring, and integrity, they think of you.

~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.



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