CHOICE OF BOOKS: Greg and Lisa Popcak provide readers with an enhanced guide that focuses on adolescence.
Parenting your teens and tweens with grace
By Greg and Lisa Popcak
Our Sunday Visitor, 2021
280 pages, $ 15.95
Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of their bestseller Parenting with grace, Greg, and Lisa Popcak provide readers with an improved guide to adolescence: Parenting your teens and tweens with grace. Having now raised several teens in their own families, they combine their own experiences with recent research on child development in an encouraging and energizing guide to raising faithful Catholic adults.
The Popcaks write with the belief that parenthood should not be a ‘on the fly’ endeavor but rather an intentional life of a specific vocation. Armed with this confidence, they wrote not only a book on parenting, but “a guide to more fully encountering the love of God in your home and changing the world through the ministry of parenthood”. Each chapter ends with a prayer and discussion questions, which encourage readers to reflect on and apply the advice of the Popcaks to their own homes.
Parenting your teens and tweens with grace is rooted in both faith and reason. “Biology is theology,” the Popcaks write in the introduction, and they draw on both Church revealed truths as well as the social sciences to understand this period of child development.
In the first part, the Popcaks argue for the difference that the Catholic faith makes in homes and family practices. They describe the basic principles (first introduced in the original Parenting with grace), demonstrating that “Catholic theology of the family calls on Catholic parents to create a different type of relationship – a relationship of discipleship – with their children.”
First, Catholic parents never have to be single parents: “God is our co-parent”. The grace of the sacrament of marriage creates a triple love that gives life. The Catholic home is a Trinitarian home, a “domestic church”. God himself is truly present as the strength, joy and love of the human family, in which its members meet God and worship him.
The Popcaks also offer practical, concrete advice for living these principles: Pray with your spouse and pray with your children. Integrate your adolescents and pre-adolescents into the rhythm of daily life and give them responsibilities which demonstrate their irreplaceable role in the mission of the family in the world: “Adolescence is a time when children become much more sensitive to need. to find their mission and their vocation. Raising them in a Catholic home where the idea of mission is woven into the daily life of the family is the best way to help your teenagers understand what life really looks like as Christian disciples.
Being a missionary begins “when you open your eyes in the morning. Your mission forms the basis of all your relationships, ”and the Popcaks want to encourage all parents of adolescents and adolescents to discover their mission first in relationships within their own families.
In Part II, the Popcaks apply these basic principles to the challenges of training and disciplining adolescents. They are already known to advocate “parenting attachment,” which most people associate with infant care methods such as co-sleeping and prolonged breastfeeding.
The real basis of parental attachment, however, is the idea of “discipleship”: your relationship with your child at all times is predominantly based on your God-given vocation to lead him to Jesus Christ. During adolescence, “attachment is best understood as your adolescent’s deep conviction (beyond just intellectual appreciation) that you are the primary person they can confidently and consistently turn to for help. get help to meet their needs and live their best life. . ”
In other words, the bonds with your children don’t end when they reach their teens. It is an ongoing process that parents must courageously undertake each day to build relationships and trust. “A firmly attached teenager will be more likely to ask respectful questions and resolve any objections or concerns they may have about what you are saying.”
The Popcaks base their claims on biology, explaining the neuro-attachment mechanisms in the developing brain and relating these mechanisms to psychological and spiritual well-being.
At this point, readers may think, “That sounds good, but how to do at home? ”The book does not disappoint, describing a variety of healthy strategies, reflective questions and case studies that parents can apply to foster a discipleship relationship with their children.
Part Three builds on the early sections of the book by “filling your discipleship toolbox” with proven techniques for transforming your home from a “rules and consequences” model to a discipleship model: “When the Children are around ten years old, they are much less naturally inclined to do something because their mother and father said so. It is not a challenge. It represents the fact that their brains have developed to the point that they need to understand why they are doing something. … They must learn to apply the lessons you are trying to teach when you are not there to tell them what to do.
The following mini-chapters offer brief summaries and situation examples of tools such as family routines, parental monitoring, timeouts and entry times, and logical consequences.
Part IV applies all of these ideas to “specific disciplinary challenges”, considering preadolescents and adolescents separately. This section will help parents narrow down the particular challenges they are currently facing (or preview what to expect!).
The Popcaks have been of great service to parents entering (or feeling lost in the midst of) adolescence. In a culture that generally offers condolences to these parents, Popcaks display an inspiring enthusiasm for the great gift of childhood in all its stages. Parenting your teens and tweens with grace is bright, cheerful, and hopeful, even as he faces head-on the very real challenges of parenting this age group.