While I’m still working on my movie update post (We watched too many last year), here’s a book review to keep my blog from completely falling into the dark internet abyss.
I asked my friend, Joel – father of 4 and an amazing Catholic elementary school teacher, if he’d like to read and review this book and so here it is! Thanks, Joel, for sharing!
Parenting is hard. One of my good friends has an expression whenever we are commiserating about each other’s children and their idiosyncrasies: “They don’t come with owners manuals.” Navigating the minefields of raising a kid in the digital age is a daunting task. There is no roadmap because we’re all forging new paths in the here and now. Most of us are winging it. We’ve slinged together a game plan based off what our parents did that worked and what our parents did that didn’t work. Maybe we’re lucky enough to have some older siblings that we can learn from their parenting mistakes and triumphs. Hopefully, we’re plugged into a network of friends that can lend encouragement and advice.
But the reality is, many parents feel very alone and unsure of what exactly they are doing. A lot of good parenting tools have gotten lost in the mix and not passed down between generations. This is especially true when we talk about passing on the faith. After all, for their parents, faith was such a private thing. It just wasn’t discussed. And that has left our generation of parents unsure of how exactly to pray with our kids, let alone how to help them develop a personal relationship with Christ.
Enter this book, Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick by which the amazing Erika from over at Simplemama put into my hands and asked me to do a review for. It is a quick, easy read that confirms many of the hunches you’ve already been feeling, puts forward reflections that open your eyes in new ways, and offers specific steps you can take to strengthen your family. I often find parenting advice books obvious or sanctimonious, but Cardaronella’s writing is relatable and beneficial.
One of my favorite points of the book was discussing how important it is for parents to articulate the faith. This is also really helpful advice for teachers. Cardaronella starts by describing Bl. John Henry Newman’s approach.
“Newman didn’t just give knowledge; he gave himself…When he discussed a topic, he not only gave the doctrinal understanding of the subject, he also gave the background of how he came to believe it. Most students will accept a doctrine as true because the Church teaches it. However, they’ll allow it to become part of their lives only if an instructor pulls back the curtain to expose personal convictions and motivations.
When Newman discussed a topic, he not only gave the doctrinal understanding of the subject, he also gave the background of how he came to understand it and why he believed it…Cardinal Newman’s cure was to transform the notional into the real-to engage the spectator, bring him or her off the sidelines of intellectual passivity, and impart an awareness of the intersection between life and religious truth. For him, the crucial question is not how is it true, but how is it true for you? How does it affect your life and what does it mean for your particular situation?”
The author’s tips to parents on how you can begin to articulate the faith to your kids:
Tell them why you believe something, why you didn’t use to believe but now you do, how your thinking evolved, what the turning point was, or why you think it’s important.
Cardaronella also offers a really good reflection on the Parable of the Sower. This was probably my favorite part of the book. He says it’s not really a parable about the seed, it’s all about the soil, and then leads us through a reflection of the soil in our home. To paraphrase these chapters: Break open the hard ground. Deepen your roots. Clear away the thorns. Till your fertile ground. You can improve the soil! Some of the seeds bear fruit, thirty, and sixty, and a hundredfold. If it’s all good soil, why doesn’t it have the same yield? Clearly some patches of soil are more fertile than others. How can you tend to your fertile soil to improve it even more?
Another great quote: “Of all the thorns, probably the most dangerous are the never-ending lists of activities and interests that capture our hearts. Religion is just one player in the tightly contested battle for time, attention, and energy. Usually religion loses. By far the biggest offender is sports. Let’s be honest, though; the responsibility for these thorns doesn’t rest with kids. Parents are the ones prioritizing sports and other activities over Mass, religious education, and devotional practices. I’m not saying kids shouldn’t be active, but time is a precious commodity. You have to weed your children’s schedule to allow space for God.”
These were just some of the quotes that I didn’t want to forget. I really liked this book and I think it could open up some great discussion among parents united in the trenches.
Thanks again, Joel, for reading and sharing your review of Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick by
(Amazon Affiliate links included in this post, Amazon sends me a wee little thank you for purchases made via these links. )