In Parenting Toward the Kingdom: Orthodox Christian Principles of Child-Rearing (Ancient Faith Publishing), Philip Mamalakis, PHD, aims to “connect the daily struggles of family life and parenting to timeless truths of the Orthodox Christian Church.” By invoking centuries of combined wisdom from St. Paul, St. John Chrysostom, St. Theophan the Recluse, St. Porphyrios—and many others—Dr. Mamalakis transcends time and space with a generous offering on parenting, including research from the field of child development.
A long-term proposition, parenting must be approached with the end game in mind, says Dr. Mamalakis in the book’s opening chapter.
A father of seven children, ranging in ages from eight to 21, “We need to know what we’re working toward so we can talk about how to accomplish our goals,” he says. In other words, what kind of adults do parents wish their children to become? Caring? Kind? Moral? Competent? Hard-working?
For answers to this question and many others, Dr. Mamalakis turns to Church Tradition and the Scriptures: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you,” (Matthew 6:33).
Divided into six sections, including Always Parent with the End in Mind; Respond, Don’t React; and Separate Feelings from Behaviors, Parenting is chock full of meaningful counsel, such as: “We should not judge our children when they misbehave.” Instead, “They are not here to make us proud. We are here to help them grow, no matter how they behave.”
This book is many lovely things. To be sure, though, it is not a primer on how to make your children’s lives struggle-free. On the contrary: “Good parents do not make their children’s lives easy but stay connected to them as they navigate the struggles,” says Dr. Mamalakis.