Parenting Toward the Kingdom: Orthodox Christian Principles of Child-Rearing
by Philip Mamalakis
Published by Ancient Faith Publishing, 2016
Parenting Toward the Kingdom is a rare offering that connects the daily struggles of family life and parenting to the truths of the Orthodox Christian Church, and offers real strategies to navigate these challenges. Mamalakis notes that parenting requires an end game, namely, what sort of adults we wish our children to become: Caring? Kind? Moral? Competent? Hard-working?
These long-term goals need to guide our daily interventions. Some of the themes addressed include: 1) the need to convey the positive joy that comes from repentance and confession; 2) the joy in obedience; 3) how children learn through our example, interactions and relationships with them, and how we respond to them when they misbehave; 4) that we should look upon children as icons of Christ and when we get angry, snap, or talk down to a child, we are defacing this icon. Furthermore, when we indulge that child’s desires by giving them too much, it’s like worshipping an idol. The need for strictness is emphasised, but it must be accompanied by empathy.
We accept our child’s feelings, such as anger, but limit their behaviour and teach them that it can be controlled. The importance of maintaining a connection with our children is stressed: ‘Good parents do not make their children’s lives easy but stay connected to them as they navigate the struggles… children are looking for connection, not attention.’ Prayer is emphasised as being critical and central to good parenting. Prayer builds peace within us. Before reacting to our children, we should say the Jesus prayer. Prayer opens the heart and invites the Holy Spirit to be present in this process and fills our homes. The book is not meant to be read all at once; perhaps 10 minutes each night to allow reflection. The advice offered is sobering and most helpful – an important book for all Orthodox Christian parents.
Source: Lychnos April / May 2017