Breaking News: Teens and Their Parents Have Meaningful Conversations

My book What Matters Most has now been out for just over a year and in that time I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of dioceses, parishes, and schools in relation to the book. One of the most creative and exciting uses for the book that I have yet to come across is from a Catholic high school that created an elective course in which student-leaders at the school read and discussed the book… and so did their parents! This allowed the students to talk with each other about things like their over-scheduled busyness, the practices of mercy, and the challenges to being persons of faith as teenagers. These conversations also happened at home between the teens and their parents. Teenagers were not the target audience for this book (their parents, teachers, and ministers were) but the young people’s response showed me how well they can relate to what is presented in What Matters Most.


I had the chance to visit this school at the end of the year to meet with the students during a two hour session, and then with their parents separately during another long session. Both conversations were outstanding… and both conversations went on well past their scheduled ending time (students did not seem to mind missing part of their next class). I was then really gratified to receive thank you notes from each of the students in which they shared with me how their reading of the book and their discussion with each other and their families inspired and challenged them. I’d love to share something from each one of them but that would make this an overly long post, so here are just a few snippets:


What Matters Most has opened my eyes to how important faith life is in high school years and through college and beyond. I also learned about parenting, which may seem unimportant right now, but actually helps me be a better daughter and understand my parents better.”

– Linda, HS Senior


“The most eye-opening thing that I got from your book was when you talked about how patience is the most important thing we can do to show our love.”

– Jack, HS Sophomore


“I really feel that I am always moving from one event to another constantly. I fail to be in the moment and appreciate where I am. I am caught up in the moment and I don’t make true connections with people. When I am rushing I start to interpret people’s actions and how they should show their love. You said ‘deep listening does not just happen’ and to make time for deep listening I need to become practiced in taking time and practice giving time. I may be a busy person but the reason why I am not making deep connections with other people is because I am not giving them my time.”

– Allison, HS Junior


“I enjoyed how you gave us an exemplary figure: Mary. I tend to overlook how important her ‘yes’ was and how much deep listening and trust in God that must have taken.”

– Cecilia, HS Sophomore


“Every day I have been trying to take what you said to us and what we read in What Matters Most and incorporate it into my own life. Your book has really made me rethink how I choose to spend my time, and it has helped me to change some of my ways.”

– Samuel, HS Junior


“What resonated most with me was that you acknowledged how difficult it is to make God your number one priority with all the commitments high schoolers have today. You taught with such intelligence the ways that we can accommodate our outside activities while still keeping our faith as our very first priority. Through your words, I was inspired to not only create a stronger relationship with God, but to incorporate Him into every aspect of my world.”

– Caroline, HS Freshman


“I would like to thank you for talking to us students as mature people, not just as teenagers, and clearly respecting our lives and feelings. Nowadays, it is rare for us to speak candidly about how we feel and receive advice from an adult that actually remembers what it was like to be sixteen or seventeen without our feelings being minimized or invalidated. … Thank you for showing us that God really is there to comfort and guide us in ways that can sometimes go unnoticed.”

––Isabella, HS Junior


“The most interesting aspect of the book for me and my family was the topic of time. I had not realized how significant a role time plays in our call to discipleship. … My schedule is complete with [lots of activities] but lacking in time spent with family and with my Father, God. This book helped me realize that I need to make time instead of find time. … This book has called me to focus my discipleship and challenge me to be like our mother Mary, Mater Dei.”

– Kody, HS Junior


I would love to work with even more schools or parishes on their own projects, whether similar to this one or not. Either of the two reading guides that go along with this book can give you some ideas (one is for parish groups or groups of parents, and the other is for high school administrators and/or faculty). If you are interested, let me know!

Name *