Family Culture with Mr. Alvaro de Vicente

What Winston Churchill once said of buildings, we too can say of family culture. Namely, that we first shape it, and thereafter it shapes us. Indeed, this is especially true for our children, who are particularly impressionable. Whether it is the artwork in a classroom, a coach’s demeanor on the sports field, or that stack of books in the living room, our children notice and are formed by everything that surrounds them.

Although summer break is now in full swing, parenting has no vacations. Rather, in many ways parenting intensifies during the breaks, for it is during these times that our homes are perhaps most full. As such, now is a fitting moment to consider the culture we are creating in our homes. 

To this end, this week we revisit an episode from our archives. Based on a letter he sent to parents, in this episode, Mr. Alvaro de Vicente offers us seven ideas on how to foster a healthy and happy culture in the home: 

  1. Have a Library at home.
  2. Establish and protect order in common areas of your home.
  3. Aim to have dinner together everyday.
  4. Engineer one common conversation during dinner.
  5. Dedicate a nightly time to family prayer.
  6. Spend time with the elderly and lonely.
  7. Give to charity.

As a school is like a boy’s second home, the home is his first school.  And it is in this school that we, as parents, can help him cultivate those virtues, which he will carry with him throughout his entire life–and, God willing, into the next.

Show Highlights

  • Why family culture is an important part of your children’s formation
  • More than mere words: what you do is often more important than what you say
  • Is an orderly home an unrealistic goal?
  • How to improve family dinner time
  • Thoughts on how to build a family library on a budget
  • Why a brief time of family prayer can be better than a long time
  • How can we reform a family culture gone astray?
  • It’s not about perfection, but its pursuit

Also on the Forum

Creating a Culture of Learning in the Home

20 Ways to Improve the Family Dinner

Alvaro de Vicente

About the guest:

Alvaro de Vicente


Alvaro de Vicente has served as Headmaster of The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland since July 2002. Originally from Santander, Spain, Alvaro received some of his secondary education at The Heights and graduated from there in 1983. In 1987 he graduated cum laude from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Philosophy and received his J.D. from Georgetown University School of Law in 1991. As Executive Director of the Tenley Study Center from 1989 to 2002, he organized and managed supplemental development programs to several hundred students and professionals per year. Several of the Center’s programs were replicated and became standard programs for other supplemental education centers in the United States and abroad. While employed full-time by the Tenley Study Center, Mr. de Vicente offered his services on a part-time basis to The Heights School. Between 1992 and 2002, Mr. de Vicente assisted the School in various positions; coaching, establishing and running its college counseling office, school administrator overseeing contracts with vendors, and student advisor. From 1995 to 2001, Mr. de Vicente served on The Heights School’s Board of Directors, the last four years as its vice-president. In addition, Mr. de Vicente also serves on the Board of Trustees of two other educational groups; the Youth Leadership Foundation and the Texas Education Works. In his capacity as Headmaster of The Heights School he spearheaded and supervised the construction of the School’s signature building. But Mr. de Vicente’s most important work is in the classroom where he teaches Catholic Apologetics and in mentoring students daily.