INTRODUCTION:There was a book by Billy Graham in the 90s (maybe late 80s) that had him answer difficult Christian questions (no, the title is not: Ask Billy Graham). I can’t quite remember the title no matter how hard I try. Even my amazing Google skills has failed to help me locate the book.
Anyway, When Faith Causes Family Friction by Ray Guarendi reminds me of that book, in style and writing. The major difference is that while Billy Graham’s book deals with general problems, this one majors on faith-caused family problems.
WHAT THE BOOK IS ALL ABOUT:When Faith Causes Family Friction is a book that seeks to deal with disagreements, guilt, fights and other kinds of issues that arises because one or more member of a Christian family decides to cool off the Christian faith.
The book is written in a Q&A format – where a member of the public writes and the author responds as best as he could, given the information he has at hand.
The book covers different issues like rebellion, depression, sex, parenting etc. Also, it tries dealing with them mostly from a Catholic perspective.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THE BOOK:For one, the format helps. It is refreshing to read about other people’s problems (I’m not being masochistic), and realising that humanity is the same – we all go through the same problems and our desires are most the same – love, peace, and the zeal to do what is right in God’s eyes.
Also, the writing is simple and straight-to-the-point. Though the author is a Clinical Psychologist, he does not faff about with big, irrelevant words. There is a lot of clarity with a dose of humour in the sentences and there are times you feel the author is speaking directly to you because the writing is so conversational and direct.
“A tragic reality fuels today’s parents’ anxiety over their children’s faith journey: the large numbers of adults who jettison the faith of their childhood. Many of the “fallen away” proclaim, “I was made to go to church as a kid, and as I got older, I wanted to decide for myself.” Decades of doing therapy have taught me that many, if not most of us, are routinely unaware of our true motives. “I was made to” is often the spoken rationale for the unspoken “I don’t want to anymore.” Later rejection has little to do with being forced to attend Mass years earlier. Throughout my teens, my mother insisted I visit my ninety-plus-year-old great-aunt, an activity near the bottom of my boyhood to-do list. Did she thus risk making me one day shun old people? I don’t think she ever worried about that. Or did she show me a side of life I needed to see and wouldn’t look at on my own? Long after I had Mom as my motivator, I not only continued visits with the elderly but came to appreciate them.”
“Whatever the spiritual distance between you and your husband, don’t let it be a source of strife. Without weakening your internal God presence, you can modify your external expression of it.”
“Modern parenting has been muddled by “psychological correctness.” That is, there are psychologically correct ways to talk to children, reason with them, discipline them—in short, raise them. Reflect an empathic I-message, apply well-timed positive reinforcement, construct a win-win scenario, design a one-of-a-kind sticker system—and a child can be shaped like clay. A good psychological outcome is foreordained. While useful for some kids—mostly those who could raise themselves—psychological correctness pulls many well-meaning moms and dads into a futile cycle of tentativeness, second-guessing, and guilt. In the end, it offers no guarantee of a well-adjusted youngster.”
CONCLUSION:When Faith Causes Family Friction is a much-needed book in today’s world. The writing is great. Most of the advice it dispenses are sound. And most importantly, you can feel love in the book’s tone.
Of course, with this format, there are always problems. With this book, I feel the traditional parenting tips was carried a tiny, tiny bit too far. For example, a theme that runs through the book is that of using financial, emotional, and moral force to “persuade” children to follow parents’ religious wishes. Though I am of the same mind, however, this approach only works until a certain age. From what I have personally seen, I believe the failure rate for using it on children in their late teens is quite high. It doesn’t work much on that age-group but I am convinced it is a great tactic for children below that age.
All in all, When Faith Causes Family Friction is a fantastic addition to Christian literature and would happily recommend to parents and teachers.
When Faith Causes Family Friction is written by Ray Guarendi and published by Servant: Franciscan Media (June 19, 2015).
Many thanks to Servant: Franciscan Media for review copy. All images are © to their respective owners.