Parenting With Grace: Raising Holy Families
Updated: Sep 25
Part one of two blog posts about two recent book releases about raising families in today's difficult climate.
+JMJ+ The other night, I woke up suddenly and in a bit of a panic thanks to an awful, very vivid dream. I haven't had any dreams about my rape for a long while and this one felt so real that, upon waking, I immediately turned on the light to be sure the monster of a rapist wasn't in the room with me. The only person in the room was our youngest daughter (age 3) and she was sleeping peacefully beside me. I breathed a sigh of relief as I settled back under the covers and tried to get back to sleep. Sleep didn't come easily as memories of that nightmare (frightening memories of my past rape) continued to swim through my mind. I gazed at the sweet sleeping face next to me and was overcome with worry for my husband's and my children. They are so young, so innocent, and so unacquainted with the ways of the world! My heart fears for them one day being faced with the evil that's out there. I can't stand the thought of any of them being hurt in the way I was hurt. God, protect them!
The realization that we can't shelter them forever hit me like a ton of bricks. However, it also hit me that my husband and I are called, not to be “successful” (at least in the ways that the world measures success), but faithful to God in how we raise our children. We are called to raise them with morals and principles so that one day they will be able to face the world and be soldiers of Christ. Part of our calling as parents is train up our children to live in the world but to not be a part of it
So that begs the question: how do we do that? How do we prepare our children for the sad realities of the world? As easy as the expression “Let go and let God” is to say, it's not quite as easy to put it into practice. Even then, letting go does not mean just sitting back and letting the chips fall where they may. Parents still need to take proactive steps to ensure the safety of their children – physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
September 26th is National Family Day, a day where we call to mind the people who make our lives meaningful. Unfortunately, we have time and time again seen attacks on the traditional family and, more than ever, families need to fight against the new “norms” in the culture around us. Strong, faith-filled families are at the core of a God-centered society, and families intent upon raising their children in the faith are particularly targeted by the evil one. One just has to look at some of the “health” programs out there being forced upon even young children. Our culture of sex is being increasingly forced upon the innocent and, to be frank, it’s abuse.
Healthy families are critical for bringing up healthy children (in every sense of the word). Our children are the future and so how we raise them is vital. In the words of St. Pope John Paul II, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”
I can say without hesitation that I never would have been able to face the horrors that I have faced without the support of a good, holy family. My family has had their share of problems (as all families do) but they have supported me, helped me, encouraged and protected me through so much hardship. Sadly, not everyone has that. I mention my parents in particular several times throughout my book Glimmers of Grace and I can't stress enough what a difference a stable family can make in someone's life. I've known some really incredible individuals do amazing things with their life without the love and support of a healthy family behind them, but it was a whole lot more difficult for them.
As we call to mind the family, I want to share with you two recent reads of mine. Both are from Sophia Press and are about the family (at the moment, I only have them in PDF form and am looking forward to my hard copies!). My children are still quite young (one hasn't even been born yet) and so my husband and I are still able to shelter them fairly easily. As I mentioned previously, families are under attack and they need to be prepared. We need to work to strengthen ourselves and parents are increasingly in need of proper, holy guidance so they can better lead their little ones and prepare them for what's out there.
So, what can we do? Sure, we can pray, raise our children in the faith, and live by example but surely there are other concrete ideas. Well, there are and these two books are wonderful resources. I'll be discussing one of them this week and the other will come in a “Part 2” next week!
Raising Upright Kids in an Upside Down World
By Dr. Ray Guarendi
First off, I love Dr. Ray. I love his down-to-earth, often humorous approach and he has a way of simplifying issues that, on the surface, seem so complicated. I had high expectations when beginning this book and it does not disappoint.
Dr. Ray's new book offers practical tips for helping parents navigate this increasingly liberal world their children are growing up in. Many parents have the worthy goal of raising moral, upright children but, once the surrounding culture gets to them, it sometimes seem as though all hope is lost. Our culture doesn’t like the way we raise our children and, not only that, the world tries to tell us not only how to raise our children but things such as how many to have in the first place. Each family is expected to conform to certain standards, certain ideals. Just by turning on the news or opening some school textbooks, we know that it’s not a good thing.
We are seeing an increase in rebellion, carelessness, and a drifting away from the morals principles and ideals we have tried so hard to instill. Children are becoming desensitized to violence, sex, impropriety, etc. One just has to watch an average movie trailer to see that. Throughout his book, Dr. Ray offers concrete, practical advice for families. He gave some fantastic ideas that made me think, “Hey, we can do this!” Nothing complicated. Nothing mind-boggling or impossible. He talks about making commitments, TV and computer time, advertising and it’s effects on children and families. He gives ideas for encouraging gratitude in an ungrateful world and dealing with the nagging child. I think a lot of readers will appreciate what he has to say about striking a healthy balance with grandparents when it comes to gift-giving (this is an issue I hear a lot about from other parents). I've been in “nesting mode” recently and doing a lot of cleaning out and so I was particularly inspired by his tips for keeping possessions to a minimum in order to encourage gratitude in a culture of ingratitude. We've all seen the advertisements that constantly barrage kids and parents with the idea that “You NEED this!” Parents of teenagers will especially appreciate Dr. Ray's advice on friendships. News flash, as the parent, you are allowed to “judge” another child’s conduct and determine whether that conduct is good or bad for your child. It's okay (and HEALTHY) to set boundaries with neighbors, friends, and even family.
“The culture is in the air we breathe. There is no way to hold one’s breath indefinitely. How deeply you and your children breathe it in, however, remains very much under your control.”
- Dr. Ray Guarendi -
To sum up what I took away from Raising Upright Kids in an Upside Down World: keeping our children “on the up and up” comes down to the parents being the leaders and setting a good example for them. In the end, I learned a lot, came away with many new ideas and, yes, I was entertained while reading this book.
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” - St. Mother Teresa
Parents, you are not alone!
Next week, I'll be discussing Kathleen Beckman's new book, A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare: Strategies for Deliverance and Healing. This book is a powerful one!
To order your copy of Raising Upright Kids in an Upside Down World by Dr. Ray Guarendi, you can go HERE
Disclaimer: this post is in no way sponsored by Sophia Press. I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest feedback and am simply sharing my thoughts in this blog post.