Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"PARENTING with Grace..." by Gregory K. Popcak, Ph.D. and Lisa Popcak

PARENTING with Grace
The Catholic Parents' Guide to Raising "almost" Perfect Kids
2nd Edition (Updated and Expanded)

Last Fall, while searching for parenting materials, I discovered this gem of a book!  It has become my parenting "go to" book as I have developed and evolved my own parenting philosophy and practices.  It is rarely not at my side,  (I read it while I'm soaking in the tub (a treat for sure!), waiting in the carpool lane, nursing Baby Luke, etc.!) and it has caused me to radically change many of my thoughts about "the right way" to do things!

So what makes this book so different than other parenting handbooks out there?  (What to Expect...series, Parents Magazine, Family Fun, etc.)

Well, for starters, it is a decidedly Christian, specifically Catholic, read. The authors, Gregory K. Popcak, Ph.D. and his wife, Lisa Popcak, make no apologies touting parenting practices that are strongly supported by the Catholic Church such as stay-at-home mothers, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, co-sleeping, homeschooling, etc.  And while the authors do not claim to present "the one, right, Catholic way to parent...we can enumerate some of the values that stand at the heart of Catholicism and introduce you to the parenting methods that research suggests will increase the odds of your children exemplifying those values..."

In addition, I love how the authors delve into the "Five Fabulous Phases of Childhood" and what attachment parenting looks like at each phase.  ( mean my job of attachment parenting isn't over when Luke's out of diapers?)  ;)  From infancy through the teen years, the authors share what is most wonderful about each of these phases and what a strong parent/child relationship will look like.  I appreciate a good read that doesn't perpetuate the "terrible twos" or "challenging teen years"!

Finally, the last part of the book is a "potpourri" of sorts with chapters on the "Twelve Ways to Foster Your Child's Faith Life", "Sibling REVELRY:  Six Hints for Helping Your Children Love One Another"  and "the Most Powerful Parenting Tool...Your Marriage".  And this is just a sample.

I love this book and really can't say enough positive things about the way that it has impacted my life!  

Perhaps actions speak louder than words...?

Our "Family Bed"
While my siblings and I would NEVER have slept with our parents, my kiddos do quite often.  Our "family bed" grew out of my intense need to spend time with my little ones after being away from them all day working.  :(  It also supported the practice of breastfeeding-on-demand which I have done with each of our children.  

And while the two older ones, now school-age, do typically sleep in their own beds each night, they LOVE having "slumber parties" with mom while Daddy is on-duty!  Interestingly, since I no longer work outside of the home and Luke and I are together all day long (and he is no longer waking at night to eat) he is my best "crib sleeper" at night!

Wishing you sweet dreams this evening,


  1. I did a study on this book a few years ago in my Catholic young mother's group. I have since found it is actually considered quite controversial because some of the ideas they present as supported by the Church are not at all. The Church takes no stand on such things as co-sleeping, attachment parenting, or other things discussed in the book. It is not necessarily against them but not necessarily for them either. The authors are stretching a bit to make it seem as though the Church supports parenting decisions that they obviously support but it IS a stretch.
    Sorry to sound unsupportive. Parenting is so difficult and it is always wonderful to find others who validate the choices we are making and encourage us in our roles as parents but this book is not exactly the authority it claims to be. As parents we all must do what we discern is best for our families and what we feel God is asking of us. Our Church supports THAT but does not tell us exactly how to go about doing it, except, of course, to tell us to pray without ceasing and to trust in God in all things.

  2. Hi Kari.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

    While I'm not sure which edition you did your book study on (perhaps 2nd edition?), the authors do state that the "Church Herself has not officially endorsed any one parenting style..." (p. 34, 2nd edition) So, perhaps the authors corrected themselves?

    What I appreciate about the book is that it validates many of my parenting decisions that go against the "norm"...the norm that for us, here, in America, is mostly based on a Western philosophy of parenting...and a mostly secular one at that.

    And while that parenting style is not wrong, it doesn't necessarily complement my more traditional Catholic faith and lifestyle.

    One thing we both agree on, parenting is hard work. But, I can honestly say (after several different career experiences) that it is the most rewarding career that I will ever experience, and I feel so blessed that God entrusted me with His three precious souls!


  3. Dear Valarie,
    While I also knwo different people have different views on this book, I also own it and have read parts of it.
    It is one of the books I was trying to think of lately to look at and see how it compares with what I am contemplateing as a parent right now.
    I do believe books, blogs, people are brought into our lives at just the right time and although I don't remember a lot about this book, it was a book that I was looking for that I remembered advocates a more gentle approach to parenting ...which is what I am looking for.

  4. Dear Gae,

    Thank you so much for also sharing your thoughts and feelings about this book.

    I love your comment, "it was a book that I was looking for that I remembered advocates a more gentle approach to parenting...".

    You stated so gracefully, what I myself was trying to express!

    As a former public school educator, and work-outside-the-home mom, I have tried many different approaches to parenting my infants...and some are definitely more "harsh" than others. And while, no one philosophy or practice is endorsed by our Church, I think that many of the practices recommended by the authors are "kinder and gentler"!

    That doesn't mean that they will work for all families or all kids in the same family! For as much as I love sleeping with my kids (and Mary and Ben love sleeping with us) Luke PREFERS the crib! :) It is not a punishment to him at all! He loves the space and ability to roll around and is so happy in the AM...cooing and babbling away. I've tried to co-sleep with him and it's a nightmare...he fusses and cries. (Notice he is WIDE awake in the picture!) Kids are complicated like that...but it's our job to love them right where they're at and to meet their needs...not ours!

    It is my hope that those that read this post, take from it that this book works for ME...for my FAMILY...and that the practices suggested and endorsed by the AUTHORS, while may not be "mainstream" are done out of of the three Theological Virtues!

    I would never be one to "tell" anyone how to parent, but I am a huge advocate of reading as many different resources as possible, and this one connected with me.

    Blessings to you!

  5. Dear Valarie,
    I hope you are encouraged by your own reading and what is right for your family.
    I see that so many parents are concerned wtih how tthe results of their parenting are viewed by others. The 'disipline approach' is very big with so many but I see a more gentle and loving one more effective, in looking for what is behind the behaviour rather than an assumption of bad behaviour more important.
    I am a huge believer in people are more important than things and feelings are so important in children.

    Be confident in what works for your family and I am always reminded that Jesus himself was and is a gentle teacher, even when I stray from his teachings. How can I do less for my own children?


  6. Thank you, Gae.

    Such beauty and truth in your words! I now often stop, take a deep breath and think..."How would our Blessed Mother or Jesus handle this situation?" That in itself, often causes me tone down my "harshness" factor, which I can be susceptible to! (My cross to bear, I suppose!)


  7. Valerie- I wanted to thank you for being so open-minded. After I had posted my comment I was afraid it may have come across as rude or judgmental. I did not mean it that way, and am glad that you did not seem to take it that way.

    Incidentally I studied the book so many years ago I believe it was the first edition. it sounds as though they have made changes to clarify that the book states their views and not those of the Catholic Church. It was that that really bothered me about the book, and not necessarily the views and ideas themselves.

    From what I can see in your blog you are doing a beautiful job of parenting and have definitely found what works for your family. Always a blessing!

  8. Hi Kari.

    Thanks so much for returning...I'm so glad that you were able to see my response.

    I always welcome thoughts and opinions, even if they differ from my own. And, from reading the book (even 2nd edition), I absolutely understood the point that you were stressing.

    Thank you also for your kind words about my kiddos...and parenting! Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would begin my "parenting journey" in my late 30s and early 40s, but it just goes to show that while we might not understand God's timing, we must just trust in it!


  9. We have let our children sleep in our bed. My mother would not even let us get on hers. I think there is some comfort from snuggling by a mom or dad. Bubee could not fall asleep for years with out laying down next to one of us do to his autism. They all go to bed in their own beds these days. But have shared how it was a comfort to know that they could get into our bed. I think God gave each of us the power to pray to gain insight as to how best our children. I have enjoyed this post.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Your kind words are appreciated! As Mother Teresa said, "Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love."