TOB for TOTS: A Retreat


“The ‘affirmation of the person’ is nothing other than welcoming the gift, which, through reciprocity, creates the communion of persons.” Theology of the Body 15:4

How do we convince our children that they are a gift?  How do we assure them that they hold treasures just waiting to be unwrapped by the right person at the right time?

With an 11-year-old in the house, my husband and I have been feeling motivated to “step it up”.  We see our oldest son, hovering over the line between innocence and knowledge, and we want to ensure that his knowledge will come from honorable sources.  It is our responsibility as parents to take the initiative, to gently prod our growing son into conversation, and to have the guts to bring up topics that may be uncomfortable for everyone.  Because if we don’t, someone else surely will.  Or he’ll pick up all kinds of unsavory information online. 

My husband had been talking about taking our 11-year-old on a “retreat weekend” for awhile.  He wanted to get away where he and his son could bond and have fun, while at the same time, allowing plenty of opportunity for some important conversations.  Knowing that my husband and oldest child would be away for two nights inspired me to come up with a “retreat” of my own for our younger children.

And so, we came up with the following schedule:

Dad and Son

Mom and Younger Kids

Day One

Drive to hotel–car conversation about your changing body (boys and girls)

Play pool at hotel

Watch movie together

Swim at hotel


Drive back to hotel–car conversation about the gift of our bodies, the biology of sex, and saving the gift of sex for marriage

Watch another movie-fun at the hotel


Day One

Start conversations about “God’s Amazing Creations” while doing nature activities

Make birdseed ornaments

Introduce concept that our human bodies are also “God’s Amazing Creation”

Movie night and popcorn

Day Two

Sleep in!

Play games at hotel


Read Good Pictures, Bad Pictures together; talk about pornography, other “sensitive subjects”

Go to movie together

Eat dinner out

Day Two

Trip to local children’s health museum–marvel at the miracle of the human body while having fun with interactive exhibits about the five senses, and watch a presentation from Valeda the Transparent Woman as she lights up and talks about various organs, blood vessels, and bones.

Enjoy a chiminea fire and make s’mores together.

Day Three

Review conversations of past two days during car ride home

Day Three

Welcome home my husband and son!

The “schedule” was simple and flexible, but very focused.  I put aside all of my regular household tasks and put my energies into talking with my children and having fun with them.  My oldest son loved the special weekend away with my husband.

My husband said that as soon as he and our son left town on the first day, he knew that the retreat weekend was only the start of many more conversations to come.  But it broke the ice for all of us.  It gave my husband and me the confidence to continue these intense conversations, and it showed our son that we care enough to talk to him about these topics.  It also established us as the experts on these issues–the resource our son can go to when he has questions.  And it was a weekend filled with fun, fond memories everyone.  My son still talks about what a fun weekend it was!

As I told my children, “Our job as your parents is to get you to heaven.”  And I could tell that this was the biggest ‘affirmation of the person’ that we could give to our children–the joy of knowing that we, their parents, believe they are capable and worthy of one day joining God in heaven, and that we are willing to give them all of the tools they need to do that.


Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids by Kristen A. Jenson

–a book that explains the science behind porn addiction and helps parents start the conversation with their pre-teen children about this important topic.  Also gives a plan of action for battling the temptations of pornography.

Beyond the Birds and the Bees by Gregory Popcak

–written by Catholic counselor Greg Popcak, this book offers practical tips and advice for raising whole and holy children, based on principles from St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  Filled with conversation starters for a variety of sensitive topics, this is an indispensable resource for Catholic parents!


About Charisse Tierney

Charisse Tierney lives in Newton, Kansas, with her husband and six children. Charisse and her husband, Rob, teach Natural Family Planning for the Couple to Couple League and have experience teaching Theology of the Body for Teens to high school and middle school students through their parish in Kansas. Charisse holds bachelor and master degrees in music performance. A professionally trained clarinetist and pianist, Charisse has always held a deep love for writing and her Catholic faith. Charisse is a contributing author of The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion and writes for Family Foundations magazine. She can also be found at
This entry was posted in Chastity, Family Life, Love, Marriage, Theology of the Body, TOB for TOTS and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to TOB for TOTS: A Retreat

  1. Maz says:

    Great blog… My faith is so important to me… I have a large family and my blog is:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s