By Allan F. Wright
“Discipleship Parenting: Planting the Seeds of Faith” by Kim Cameron-Smith. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2020). 252 pp., $18.95.
“Raising Upright Kids in an Upside-Down World: Defying the Anti-Parent Culture” by Ray Guarendi. EWTN Publishing (Irondale, Alabama, 2019) 135 pp., $14.95.
Kim Cameron-Smith cuts through a great deal of fluff that’s out there in the Christian/Catholic parenting world and gets to the heart of the matter in her book titled “Discipleship Parenting.” She asserts that raising your children for heaven must be the goal for every Catholic parent in a society that asks much more shallow questions and is more concerned with superficial concerns.
She puts forth the mission of Catholic parents in the introduction, “The Great Commission of Parenting”: “Our mission must be to raise children who know and love God. Our mission is to raise children with searching hearts who continue to grow spiritually for the rest of their lives. Our mission is to raise children who possess a heroic fidelity to the truth, so they cannot help but share that message with others.” This is a monumental task, but it’s the only real task that supersedes everything else a parent does.
The home is the real seminary where faith can be nurtured and fostered and throughout history many saints had a home life where the faith was both taught and caught by the witness of holy parents and church communities. Non-theologians can breathe easy as she begins with the building blocks of discipleship, which she describes as love, balance, play, merciful discipline, empathy, radiant faith and a strong marriage.
Throughout each chapter, she speaks to why these building blocks are so important and she beautifully explains the psychological and developmental aspects of a child’s growth during their childhood. “As Catholics, we know that no model of human flourishing is complete if it leaves out a consideration of the transcendent,” she writes.
She uses her extensive background at Oxford and Harvard University to show parents what happens when a child is “securely attached” as a young adult and what being “insecurely attached” looks like as a young adult and how it reveals itself in faith or lack of faith.
This book is highly recommended for any parent who desires first and foremost to raise their children for heaven.
Ray Guarendi, EWTN radio host, prolific author and parent of 10 adopted children, challenges parents to raise “upright kids in an upside-down world.” Guarendi confronts the mindset of our culture that continually asks parents to lower the bar and expectations for children while caving to the peer pressure of collective parent group think.
What makes parenting even more difficult is that misguided advice comes from the lips of so-called experts who have rarely been challenged on their views.
The heart of this book wages war on the overuse and misuse of cellphones, social media, computers and television, which is the “upside-down world” he writes of. The reader will admire Guarendi for his sensible stance on how these devices should be used, but what is needed, according to him, is not so much good sense, but courage.
Any parent of a child under 18 will recognize the ever-present electronic devices that are part of our “new-normal” worldwide. Guarendi states emphatically, “The culture doesn’t value your values.” How do you deal with grandparents who allow TV to be watched at their house when you forbid it? How do you parent children whose friends allow their children to own cellphones and you don’t?
Readers will have to make the final judgment as to what’s best and most prudent for their child in our tech- and information-driven world. Guarendi’s book provides guidance and food for thought for those whose values are more in line with the Catholic faith than of society.
Wright is principal of Koinonia Academy in Plainfield, New Jersey, and author of 14 books.