"There are challenges that our parents didn't have," he said, "everything from technology to all of the cultural issues that are bearing on our children and our family life."
They wanted to offer their support and advice for Catholic families to build their own unique cultures instead, which will look different depending on the individual family, Mike said.
"We don't try to say - this is the perfect plan. We try to share experiences, also the principles from the Church, because we believe the Church is an expert in humanity, an expert in real living."
Creating a strong, welcoming and unique family culture, built on a Catholic identity, is one of the best ways to combat the cultural messages that are antithetical to Catholicism and family life today, the Hernons said. "The best defense is a good offense," Mike said.
"Our 'offense' is creating your own family culture," Alicia said.
"Families need to not allow their children to be influenced by the world's culture more than by their own family culture, because when you create your own family culture...that culture is a very powerful influence on our children because it's an unspoken set of beliefs and expectations."
A strong family culture also allows parents to enforce values without being judgmental of other families, Alicia said.
"Because when a child says, 'Oh well Susie is allowed to wear that dress to prom,' you can say 'Yeah, but Susie's not a Hernon, and this is who we are,'" she said.
Family culture is communicated primarily through relationships, the Hernons said - the relationship of the parents with each other, the relationships parents have with individual children, and then the relationships children have with each other.
"The grace for your family flows from the sacrament of marriage," Mike said.
"More is caught than taught, and kids need to see what that marriage looks like, and you model for them in so many ways what true love is, what it means to lay down your life, what it means to have a vocation, a mission of service."
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The Messy Family Project offers resources that cover a wide variety of topics related to family culture - including discipline, growing spiritually as a family, managing screen time, fostering sibling relationships, strengthening marriages, and building community with other like-minded families.
These resources include downloadable worksheets for parents to work through together, because spouses are each other's own best parenting resource, the Hernons said.
"One of our themes is that parents need to work together and listen to each other as the experts," Alice said. "More than they listen to us, more than they listen to anybody else out there, they need to listen to each other. So we have worksheets for parents to go through and have conversations with each other."
Much of the Hernons' inspiration comes from Pope St. John Paul II, and his teachings on marriage and family.
"Each family finds within itself a summons that cannot be ignored and that specifies both its dignity and responsibility: family, become what you are!" Pope John Paul II said in his 1981 apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio.
That quote "sums up the goal" of The Messy Family Project, Mike said in a press release.