Monday, August 23, 2010

"Parenting with Grace" by the Popcaks: A Book Review

Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising Almost Perfect Kids, 2nd Edition, by Gregory K. Popcak, PhD., and Lisa Popcak, and a foreward by Dr. Bill and Martha Sears, is an authoritatively written text outlining everything the authors believe a family should do in order to bring up their children in a Catholic way.

The Popcaks offer practical solutions to many of the difficult situations faced by parents, including sleep problems, tantrums, dating, and technology, within the framework of the Catholic faith. Every chapter has quizzes for parents to see how they are doing in a certain area, as well as suggestions for how to improve.

Integrating The Theology of the Body and the philosophy of attachment parenting into every chapter, the Popcaks make a good case for their method of parenting. They show us why Catholicism can and should be a part of how we parent, and how it should set us apart as a special breed. They argue that, because Catholics believe in learning by natural law, science and the Catholic way should work hand-in-hand to show us what is the best way to raise our kids, from breastfeeding in infancy to sending our teenagers off to college.

After outlining the basics of Catholic parenting, the Popcaks go into great detail on each stage of development: infancy, toddlerhood, early childhood, school-age childhood, and the teenage years. They talk about faith development, sibling rivalry, childhood fears, dealing with technology, and working parents. I thought it was amazing that they were able to touch on so many various topics. This book is in touch with the modern parent and issues of today, and yet the authors are not afraid to put forth opinions that many will disagree with.

The Popcaks never say any of this will be easy. Their suggestions for improvement are rather methodical and specific. While most of what they say resonates with my own family values, I think that it would be difficult for many families to follow their instructions on improving family life. However, I do think their methods would work for parents that are set on fixing the things that have not been working in their family.

Be forewarned that their point of view is Conservative Catholic; if you are not looking for this then you will not appreciate the book. If you disagree with the attachment parenting espoused by Dr. Bill and Martha Sears, which includes co-sleeping, breastfeeding, and carrying your baby in a sling, you might have a difficult time with the book; or, you might start to see these practices in a different light.

The book end with chapters devoted to natural family planning, motherhood, fatherhood, marriage, and family maintenance. Appendixes include “The Natural Institution of the Family” by Herbert Ratner, M.D., and “Ten Reasons We Can’t Spank: A Catholic Examination of Corporal Punishment”.

I highly recommend this book for all Catholic families with kids of all ages.
This review was written as part of the Catholic books reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Parenting With Grace, 2nd Edition.

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