About the Approach

1. Why did you create Family Conquest?

  • Michael O’Rourke, the founder of Strong Catholic Dad, developed the Family Conquest over the course of 10 years while trying to find a way to bond with his own kids and teach them the Faith. He still does a Conquest every week with his family.
  • In Michael’s own words: “The long-term fruits in my family continue to be huge. When my oldest son left home, I realized how quickly these moments pass away. As such, I feel an urgency to help Catholic dads set upon this ‘sure’ path before it is too late and while their kids are most receptive. Just like a farmer has short windows to till, to plant, and to take care of his crops, dads must be timely in tending to each stage of their children’s faith growth. Parent’s role as ‘the first and foremost educators of their children is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it.’ – Vatican II”

2. Isn't this just another optional good thing to do with your kids that can be set aside if you get busy?

  • This particular approach is not absolutely essential. However, building fulfilling relationships with your family and passing on the Faith to them is critical to your success as parents, your salvation and the salvation of your family. Yes, it’s serous business!
  • At Catholic weddings, you solemnly promise to “bring up your children according to the law of Christ and His Church.” God expects us to fulfill that promise.
  • At your child’s Baptism, you again solemnly agree that “You are accepting the responsibility of training him/her in the…Faith. It will be your duty to bring him/her up to keep God’s commandments… Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?”
  • After the great commandment in Deuteronomy 6 to love God with our whole heart, soul and strength, there is a further command for parents: “You shall teach this diligently to your children at home…”
  • God and His Church have clearly commanded us to love our families and train them in the Faith. If we do this, God promises great reward. (Deuteronomy 4, 7, 28) If we don’t, God warns us of harsh consequences. (Deuteronomy 8)
  • Whether you use this approach or not, do take up your duty! You will relish in the fruit of it and fulfill the most important mission of your life: to love God and your family and lead your family to Heaven.

3. Why did you choose the name Family Conquest?

  • Every family has a mission to act on God’s command to love Him and pass on the Faith. The heart of God is the greatest conquest of our lives, and God’s great conquest is the souls and hearts of his children. The Family Conquest name encapsulates this great quest to posses God as He desires to possess us with His love.
  • As Catholic parents following Christ’s lead, we want our children to see for themselves, to literally experience for themselves, that “to fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.” – St. Augustine

Doing A Family Conquest

1. Who should do a Family Conquest?

  • This approach can be used by parents of children old enough to watch a YouTube video. The Conquests are aimed at kids 5 and older. The questions for each video start off very concretely (making them great for little kids) and then become more conceptual (making them great for teens). But you’re in charge! If a question is too hard for your kids, skip it!

2. How do I do a Family Conquest?

  • Every family is going to do a Conquest a little differently, but here’s a rough outline:
    1. First, decide how you’re going to show the videos. You can use your phone or laptop, or you can plug into/stream to your TV so that everything is on the big screen.
    2. Go to the Conquests and pick one you want to do.
    3. Gather your family and start with a quick prayer. We provide sample prayers at the beginning of every guide.
    4. Play the first video.
    5. Ask your kids the questions that follow the video. If the video spurs off-topic discussion, that’s fine! This is a guide, not a lesson plan. The key is to engage your kids: encourage them to answer the questions, dive deeper, and affirm them when they do.
    6. The foundational question to spur discussion after any video is “how does this video relate to the theme of the Conquest?” Over time, you will get really good at seeing more and more connections between God’s creation, life, and the truths of our Catholic Faith.
    7. Many parents have found great success in “bribing” their kids into giving good answers by offering a bite of dessert (brownies, cookies, etc.) for each correct answer. This has been found to be one of the best ways to get all of your kids engaged as you strive to make this time more of a family ritual.
    8. Move on to each subsequent video.
    9. Read the “Take Away” to summarize what you learned.
    10. Read the “Trust God” scripture verse that ties the lesson directly back to God’s Word.
    11. Pick a prayer from the “To Pray” section and pray it. Memorize those over time.
    12. Do the suggested “To Do.” Often these are fun opportunities for you and your kids to swap stories about you and your family’s more impactful memories.
    13. End with the final aspiration: “Jesus, Mary, Joseph, we love you! Save souls!”

3. What is the best tip for keeping my kids engaged?

  • Treats! When the kids are looking forward to the treats, the whole session is far easier. See note #7 in question #2 above: “How do I do a Family Conquest?”

4. When and where should I do a Conquest?

  • We recommend doing a Conquest every week. You can use the Conquests however you’d like, but plugging your phone or laptop into the TV is usually your best bet for keeping your kids’ attention.
  • The most successful parents have found that consistency is key. So, averaging 3-4 Conquests a month keeps momentum and feeds the fire of growing family relationships and living faith.

5. What is the key to building relationship through this approach?

  • Eye contact, smiles, encouragement and affirmation. Looking into the eyes of your children builds warmth, trust, and confidence in your relationship. Encouraging them to participate and delighting in their good efforts and answers (whether creative, funny, insightful, etc.) strengthens your bond and builds bridges for your future interactions.
  • Physical touch. Pats-on-the-back work! Give them high-fives. The loving touch of a parent literally builds warmth in the child-parent relationship.

6. How do I get my older kids on board?

  • If you and your wife are on the same page about building fulfilling relationships and passing on the faith to your children, Satan will go after your older kids and try to get them to lead the younger ones off track. Talk to the older kids ahead of time. Ask them to lead by good example. Give incentives/privileges to them to help make the family time positive and enjoyable.

7. How do I handle older and younger kids at the same time?

  • The “whole family” challenge is why this approach was created in the first place: to span all ages and allow for a shared family experience. For the most part, the videos draw in everyone, with each understanding at their own level. The first questions after each video are designed to have concrete answers for the little kids to be able to participate. The later questions are more conceptual/abstract and get the older kids to look for metaphors and analogies.
  • Since little kids have shorter attentions spans, the videos are chosen to be as short as possible, but sometimes the length just can’t be cut short enough for little ones. This is where mom can help out and keep the little ones on track using her motherly charm. In addition, snacks really help for immediate gratification and rewards to keep all the kids’ attention and motivation. Teens bother to answer when a cookie is up for grabs. Food works. Lastly, have some coloring books and crayons available for the little ones. Parents have said this works to keep the little ones busy on coloring while still tuning in to what is being said. To their surprise, dads have said that the little ones who color still pipe up to participate.

8. What if I can't complete a whole Conquest?

  • No problem! Let’s face it, life happens. Be ready to change your approach and change your schedule. If something is working, stay with it. If the kids have had enough, move on. You don’t have to go through all the videos. Sometimes, you may just need to stop, pray a Hail Mary, and head to bed or on to another activity. Remember, leave them wanting more, not wanting to leave!

9. Can single-parents do a Conquest?

  • Yes. While the guides are designed by a dad for dads to lead (especially since the role of dads as strong, loving leaders in their families has been so besieged by modern society), and for moms to support and actively participate, single-parent can do these Conquests too.
  • Please note that the Foundation Guides are specifically designed to reinforce for dad and his kids a correct vision of dad’s most important roles, given to him by God, to love, bless, teach, and lead his family. These roles grow out of his Baptismal identity as Priest (bless), Prophet (teach) and King (love & lead).

10. Can grandparents do these Conquests with their grandkids?

  • Yes. More and more grandparents are having to take over raising grandkids. The best situation is for parents to lead their own family with these Conquests. However, they work great for grandparents and reinforce for grandkids what good Catholic dads and moms are supposed to be doing.
  • Studies show that after parents, grandparents have the next greatest influence on their grandchildren’s faith life, and therefore their eternal life.
  • Don’t forget that you grandparents are still parents! Grandparents should do their best to “pass on the torch” and encourage their children and in-laws to take up their God-ordained roles: father-spiritual leader of the family and mom-heart of the home. Pray for this intention! Fast for it – yes, literally! Tell your children your regrets and that if you had known better you would have done this approach with them when they were children. Teach them how to do it and keep praying and fasting for their success. It’s never too late to evangelize through encouragement and, most especially, through your offered-up sufferings. “There is but one price at which souls are bought, and that is suffering united to My suffering on the Cross.” – Jesus to St. Faustina sec. 324.

The Results

1. What does success look like and what is the long-term impact?

  • It’s huge. Check out The Results and Testimonials.
  • Michael O’Rourke shares: “I have been doing this for over 10 years and I see a marked difference in my family. All my kids are practiced at discerning God’s providential and loving design in creation and in their own personal life, because that’s what we do every time we gather to do a Family Conquest.
  • He further explains: “My younger 6 kids have grown up with this approach and my more intentional pursuit of their hearts. Though I have very good relationships with my older 4 children, the bonds with my younger ones are stronger and warmer. We are more attuned with each other, share more consistent joy, and more easily enter into discussions together about life, dreams, fears, failures, prayer, faith and the Truth.”
  • Lastly Michael tells us: “The long-term impact and its tasty fruits in my family have fueled my zeal to share this approach with other dads. My burning apostolic desire is to help Catholic parents set upon this ‘sure’ path while they still have time to harness these passing moments and while their children are most supple, receptive, and responsive to Truth and their parent’s tender love. ‘As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.’ – St. Pope John Paul II. The corollary is ‘as the mother warmly encourages, so the father goes, and as the father goes, so goes the family!’

2. How does this approach improve your family's ability to hear God's voice and discern His Will in your lives?

  • This is one of the really exciting benefits for families who take on this approach. It is a phenomenal fruit! Since many of the videos are used as metaphors to reveal deeper truths, your family is learning the language which God commonly uses to reveal His will for you personally in your lives. That language is parable. “With many such parables He spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; He did not speak to them without parable.” – Mark 4:23-24. And in Psalm 78, “I will open my mouth in parable, I will utter mysteries of old.”
  • Christ even scolded his apostles for not understanding parables: “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” – Mk 4:13. In Luke 10:21, Jesus went on to say: “although You (God the Father) have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.” God will speak especially to your children through parables! And He will speak to you when you trust that He actually does speak to you personally, today.
  • Pope Benedict XVI explains the importance of understanding parables in order to see the meanings that God hides for us to uncover in our own lives: “Christ speaks in parables because reality itself is a parable. The Parable does not approach our experience of the world from without; on the contrary, it is the parable that gives this experience its proper depth and reveals what is hidden in things themselves.”
  • So, as your family gets better at deciphering the deeper meanings pointed to by the videos in the Conquests, you are also growing in your ability to see the deeper meanings that Gods is specifically revealing to you through the events He has ordained for your life. You will no longer take only at face value what God allows you to experience. For instance, one morning as the sun just peaked above the horizon, I missed seeing a stop sign and ended up driving through the intersection. Fortunately, there were no other cars around. I thought about what I could have done differently the next time. But then, I took it to prayer and asked God, “Is there some other ‘stop sign’ in my life that I am in the process of running right now that I may be oblivious to?” Within a few days, it hit me. There was indeed something I was blowing past in my life that I needed to slow down and pay more attention to. The timing of what was revealed and when it was revealed was uncanny and convicting. God spoke to me through parable, and I was able to tune in and hear what He was saying. When God’s voice becomes clearer, it is thrilling!

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