Friday, August 21, 2009

Book Review: 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family

I recently had the opportunity to review this book for The Catholic Company's Book Review Program. For nearly nine years I've been reading up on parenting advice here and there, and for the most part, I've always found that following my own instincts is what makes the most sense and works the best for my family. Usually that means I either reject the parenting advice I read or I embrace it since it provides affirmation of my parenting philosophy. I figured since this author was a conservative Christian, that I'd probably agree with much of her advice. For the most part, this was true, however there are parts of her advice that I don't agree with or feel she didn't adequately expound on.

Before I attempt to take issue with the content of the book, let me give you an overview of the layout. The book is broken down into 30 easily digested chapters. It's an incredibly easy read. Most chapters will probably not take more than 5-10 minutes for you to read. Each chapter follows the same format: "The Challenge" is presented, it is followed with a section entitled "From My Home to Yours" which is the authors experience with the proposed challenge for the chapter, following that you will find a section called "In Your Shoes" which are testimonials from others on this issue, this is followed by an "Act Now" box (totally cheesy, is you ask me), and a section on where to go for more help on the topic. I'd say that each challenge is well thought out, and the author's advice is in general pretty good. At times I felt she was a bit preachy. That generally doesn't sit well with me. I felt a lot of the anecdotal "In Your Shoes" sections were contrived. Too much of it seemed like it was written by the author and not other parents. But maybe I'm just a skeptic. The fill in the blank "Act Now" sections were just too lame for my liking. They're a waste of paper and ink if you want my opinion on the matter. It reminds me of something you'd see in a book geared to tweens and teens. I doubt many, if any, self-respecting parents are going to go filling in the blanks. The "More Help" sections have good references where you can get more information on the topic.

I was expecting this book to address children from elementary school age on up. In actuality, this book is more or less directed to the parents of teens. Certainly you can take many of the topics and apply them to younger children, but the bulk of this book pertains to issues you'll likely encounter with your children at the tween and teen stage.

I think my biggest issue with this book was the looming overtone that we should essentially shield our children from all issues of sexuality with the exception of teaching modesty and abstinence. I'm not a fan of having children lead a totally sheltered life. (Which is how I was brought up.) I'm all for preserving the innocence of our children, but I think it's necessary to explain both sides of the issue and teach your children why issues such as objectifying the opposite sex, sex before marriage, abortion and contraception are wrong. If you shelter them and treat these issues like they don't exist then you, as a parent, are just as much at fault as our society is for endorsing these behaviors.

Another thing you may want to take into consideration about this book is that it is not coming from a Catholic perspective. It is coming from a Christian perspective, but as a convert to Catholicism, I can tell you that just because something is Christian, that doesn't mean it is Catholic. The author offers many sites you can visit for more help or information on various topics. None of the faith based sources are Catholic. I also took issue with a part in this book that dealt with an anecdotal story about a teacher and student arguing over the age of the earth and evolution. Some Christian denominations take a very literal "Creationist" stance and see themselves at odds with Science. The Catholic Church is not opposed to science. So I would simply like to reiterate that this is not a Catholic parenting book. If it were, I'm sure many of the chapters could have been presented in a better way that were backed up with Church teachings.

I do feel that much of the book is common sense information, but I guess that all depends on the parents and their world view. The book has sound advice, but I feel some of it needed to be expanded upon.

For more information on 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family, please visit The Catholic Company.

As a member of The Catholic Company's book reviewer program, I received a free copy of 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family in exchange for my honest review of the book.

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