Saturday 14 January 2023

Being A Parent Today - Edited by Father Stephen Wang - CTS Books

Being A Parent Today
Fr. Stephen Wang (Editor)
Simone Lia (Illustrator)
Catholic Truth Society
tenten theatre
ISBN 9781860827860
CTS Booklet PA16

Over the last few years I have read over 330 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. Every time I finish one, I find 2 or three more that I want to read. There are so many great series, and excellent authors. Everything I have read by Father Stephen Wang has been excellent. And I still have a few of his volumes on my ‘to be read’ list. I have read several books that are part of the CTS Devotions and Prayer Series. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. But back to this volume. The description states:

“Being a parent today is a huge privilege and a daunting challenge. It raises so many questions about how to love your children, how to live your family life, and how to pass on your Catholic faith. 

This booklet gathers together the experiences of different mothers and fathers, and some teachers and priests. It is not a list of rules, but a collection of ideas and practical suggestions that will help you reflect on your vocation as a parent and draw closer to your children.

In straightforward language, it deals with topics such as spending time together, listening, discipline, forgiveness, school, prayer, Sunday Mass, sex education, the internet, family celebrations, and much more.

As well as helping individual families, the booklet will be invaluable for parishes and schools that are looking for resources to share with parents.

Fr Stephen Wang, the editor, is a priest in the Diocese of Westminster. He has written A Way of Life For Young Catholics & What is the Catholic Church? for CTS. 

Ten Ten Theatre is an award-winning educational theatre charity with a Catholic ethos, working in schools, parishes and prisons throughout the UK.”

This volume was published in 2012. It was a joint venture from the Catholic Truth Society and tenten theatre. The font for titles and section headings is not comic sans but close, and as a person with dyslexia it was a hindrance. But even with that it is an excellent little volume. The chapters in the booklet are:

Introduction: How Not To Use This Booklet
Children And Childhood 
Parenting And Family Life 
Activities And Celebrations 
Talking And Listening
Discipline And Boundaries 
Religion And Faith 
Meals And Food 
Making Space And Taking Time 
Praying Alone And Praying Together 
Chastity And Sex Education 
TV And Internet 
Church And Sunday Mass 
Education And School 
Yourself And Your Relationships 
Difficulties And Problems 
Failure And Forgiveness 
Love And Kindness 
Prayers To Learn And To Treasure 

I highlighted many passages while reading this volume. Some of them are:

“Every child is different. Every parent is different. Being a parent is not about learning a set of rules and putting them into practice like a robot. It's about living in the messy reality of everyday life. It's about loving your children as best you can - with all your strengths and weaknesses, and with all their strengths and weaknesses. It's sometimes about just getting to the end of the day! And it often unfolds by instinct, or by accident, rather than by following some master-plan.”

“This booklet is not a manual telling you how to be a good parent. It's a collection of thoughts and ideas from ordinary mothers and fathers, based on their own experiences of bringing up their children. And it includes a few extra thoughts from one or two Catholic priests, deacons and lay-people who have spent time supporting families in different ways.”

“The booklet was written mainly with Catholic parents and children in mind. Some of the sections are about the place of faith and prayer in family life and raising children. These parts will be particularly useful for Catholic families, and parents whose children go to Catholic schools. But many sections of the booklet should be helpful for all parents, whatever their faith.”

“This booklet comes with a health warning: Whatever you do, don't read it through from start to finish! If you do, it will seem like a list of rules (which will leave you feeling incredibly guilty and inadequate). Or it will seem like a huge 'to do' list (which will just leave you feeling worn out). This is a booklet to dip into - just to take one or two thoughts and see what they mean for you. And then come back to it another time.”

“Don't compare your children with each other. Each one is unique. Try to be fair in what you give them. Treat them equally, and never suggest you have favourites. Try to spend time with each one individually now and then.'”

“I make a plan to have some special time out with one child at a time, so they can feel special and valued, and have a chance to share their own concerns with me. But to have an equal time with each of the children, so it doesn't seem as if I have favourites.”

“I've got one practical tip: "Waste time" with your children. Build "downtime" into your day, so you are not always rushing past each other.”

“Good rules help to make good children. So make sure that there are actually good reasons for the rules you choose to set!”

“As Christian parents, it's good to know some common prayers, so you can use them in your own life, and turn to them when you are stuck. It's good to use these prayers
with your children, so they become familiar with the great prayers of the Christian tradition, and these prayers become part of their life.

It can be helpful to memorise certain prayers, so that we can use them at different times of the day and of the week, and so that our own personal prayer does not become too narrow. These prayers are especially useful and powerful when we do not know how to pray; or when we are worried or afraid; or when we are facing special trials or temptations.

These prayers help us to enter into the depths of Christian prayer. They take us beyond our own personal concerns, or help us to express concerns we didn't know we had. The important thing is to pray them with sincerity, with attention, with our whole heart and mind - and not just to rush through them.”

After that final section on prayers and a collection of key prayers there is a two page spread on TenTen Theatre. I hope those quotes give you a feel for this volume. In each of the chapters there will be quotes you read and apply immediately. Others will not apply to you and your family. And some will take some time and effort. I also believe that if you circle back and read the book again in a year other things might have an impact on you.

This is a volume that could be easily returned to many times. And the reader would benefit from it each time, as would their family. It is written such that you can read from beginning to end, or jump around topics. But no matter how you choose to read it you would be blessed by the reading.

It is another great read this time edited by father Stephen Wang and from the Catholic Truth Society.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Steven Wang:
The Long Road To Freedom: The Story Of Wang Mingdao
The Christian Faith: A Mini-Catechism for Catholics
Aquinas & Sartre: On Freedom, Personal Identity, and the Possibility of Happiness
Meeting Christ in the Eucharist
The New Evangelisation
What is the Catholic Church?
Being a Parent Today
A Way Of Life For Young Catholics
How to Discover your Vocation
Sycamore The Catholic Faith Explained

Available in French:
Comment découvrir sa vocation

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