Parenting With Grace-Book Study: Chapter One

(Intro here.)
Everything in quotations can be directly attributed to the authors, unless otherwise noted.  These are my own very brief personal notes/interpretation/things I want to remember

Chapter One-Perfecting Your Kids In Love: Twelve Ways To Raise A PK

-As Catholics it is not our mission to raise perfect kids-it is our mission to raise kids to be "perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect"-perfect in love-that they will know how to love and be loved by others and by God

-How? "everything depends upon your kids knowing you love them and teaching them how to love you in return."
-Success as parent depends on attachment (to you, not peers) at every age and stage.
-Without that level of attachment, all best discipline strategies will fail.

Parent-Child Rapport Ratio (SO IMPORTANT!)
-Studies show that marriages are in danger of divorce if minimum positivity to negativity ratio of 5:1 is not met.  (Five positive interactions to one negative interaction.)  Strongest couples 20:1 ratio.

Same goes for parent/child relationships-yelling and defensiveness increases, discipline breaks down, etc. if that 5-1 minimum is not met.
20-1 is the ideal!!!
Positive-compliments, affection, support, encouragement
Negative-criticism, nagging, confrontation
This is foundation for effective discipline.

Affection Rapport Builders (there are twelve, the book goes into detail about each one)-
1. Say I love you and I'm proud of you at least one hundred times a day, say it until they are sick of hearing it, and then say it one more time.
-Seek out ways to comment on strengths and accomplishments. Be specific and genuine.
-Don't complain ever about them publicly-do it privately and respectfully to them if you have to.

2. Show them love-affection, time.
-Ask yourself every day what is one thing you can do that day to give a little more of yourself to your children.  (Real love-reciprocal-children should be taught to ask this too of themselves, for others.)

"Remember for your child, five extra minutes of playing with you 
or sitting and talking with you 
is worth a million times more than all the toys and trinkets you could ever buy."

3. Keep your promises.

4. Play together-invest in your relationship with each child.
-Can not be overstated, so important.  (Not just games, but any fun together.)
-One day a week should be family fun day.
-Once a month, special one-on-one time with each child-really listen-one of best ways to build a relationship with each child.

5. Work together.
-builds their competence, lets them see how you value their help.

6. Pray together.
-blessings morning and evening-special gifts from God
-special time each week outside of Mass for prayer/Bible/catechism.  (Whole other chapter on this.)

7. Be there.
Important things-big games etc, but small things as much as possible.
Catholic parents are called to be saints and raise saints.  Like Mother Theresa, Pope John Paul II, and St. Pio-all knew how to make you feel as if you were the only person in the world that mattered when speaking to you.  Teach PRESENCE.  Look them in the eye, ask questions, really listen.  (I think more than ever kids these days don't get this-with cell phones, other tech...ick!)

8. Be welcoming.  
Make home safe place for friend's to hang out, especially teens.
(References book I really like called "Hold On to Your Child"-Gordon Neufeld-building strong parental bonds than peer bonds.

9. Respect their space.
Gives them opportunities to spread their wings while still under your protection-"room to grow".

10. Rapport Goes Both Ways
Every family member is called to serve each other as able-teach this lesson by modeling it.  Ask children to deliver same level of respect/service in return.

11. Family Meetings
Begin with prayer, express gratitude-thank each one for specific way to helping make life better for family, raise concern, discuss questions, close with prayer, have fun/meal.  (Establish rules.)

12. Know Their Relating Style
This one reminds me of Five Love Language for Children by Gary Chapman, but simplifies it somewhat. (There are quite a few pages in book one this subject-these are super brief notes.)
Know how each child feels love so that you can be sure they feel YOUR love...so important because kids need to feel that love connection and they all do in different ways.
Parents need to be "multilingual" to meet needs of different styles.
Some are visual-in that case, love letters, card in lunch box, etc.
Auditory-talk and listen, tell them how much you love them, respect their need to talk out problems when stressed.
Kinesthetic-physical affection, working on projects, hobbies.

Catholic families are called to create a "civilization of love".

"Affection is the fuel that makes a family run well."


  1. my friends and i were just wondering if there was a Catholic parenting book! i will have to read this one. thank you for sharing.

  2. Please tell me you are going to go thru the whole book with us!!!! I love it so far. I have to say in this age of Facebook it does really and truly bother me when friends post pixs of their childs room and saying how dirty it is. Or maybe just complaining how they didn't eat, didn't clean up, didn't say thank you, didn't do something or talk about bad behavior. I probably share too much at times myself. But, I believe there are some things that should not be out there for all to know. Show loyalty to your spouse and children FIRST. Forget about being the most liked post on FB. *stepping down from soap box.*

  3. Thanks for the great book suggestion!!! Does it deal with issues raising teenagers or is it geared more towards younger kids?

    1. Hi Amy.

      I have this book and it is like my parenting bible! Here's a breakdown of the Chapters:
      Parenting Your Infant with Grace
      Parenting Your Toddler with Grace
      Parenting Through Early Childhood with Grace
      Parenting Your School-Age Child with Grace
      Parenting Your Teen with Grace

      It is a wonderful read! I keep rereading chapters and moving on to new ones as my kiddos age. At my Parish, we do an annual Easter Basket Fundraiser and my Catholic Women's Group always puts together a Family Book Basket. Parenting with Grace is always a staple of the basket!!!

      Hope that helps!!!

  4. Thanks for the great book suggestion!!! Does it deal with issues raising teenagers or is it geared more towards younger kids?

    1. Hi Amy! It has different chapters for babies, toddlers, school age and teens, and the other chapters have to do with techniques/philosophy for all ages.

  5. Sounds like a great book. Guess I'll be picking it up.

  6. I appreciate you sharing this, Sarah. We notice a direct relationship between the time our kids spend with friends and their behavior/irritability with family/home life (a new age/stage for us). I'd love to hear how you tease out the issues of parent versus friend attachment with your own children. Do you set limits on the amount of time they can spend with friends? How has that worked with your kids? (Maybe a whole post is in order sometime? ;-) )

    1. Oh Jane…how I struggle with this.

      It is a challenge to find a balance! I would love to hear Sarah's take on this as well. I experience similar issues that you do.

      My kiddos go to Catholic school, but have different "after-school" friends form the subdivision. I find it fascinating that the neighbor girl is 6-months younger than my Mary, yet acts 6 years older on some days! I don't think it has as much to do with religion…as it does their parenting style. The little girls mom scoffed at me when I discussed this book in our neighborhood playgroup 5 years ago! She and her husband are very hands-off type of parents…sort of "sink or swim" and "you're on your own". She even has allowed her 9-year old to have a Facebook acct.

      Needless to say, as the girls have aged (now 3rd graders and no longer those little Kinders) I have felt it necessary to "limit" time together…and monitor closely what is going on when they play. It drives me nuts that the minute they come over here, Mary asks if they can play on the iPad..when she doesn't normally ask to do that! But, I've found when I say no too often to allowing them to play together…Mary seeks her out with a vengeance.

      So, it's a delicate dance I do…one where I'm trying to model grace and love for neighbor girl, while protecting my daughter's innocence.. UGH!

      Sorry I rambled here!!! Your comment just resonated with me!!!

    2. Hi Jane-I love hearing from you! :) I agree with Valerie in that it's a delicate dance. I started to type out a comment and it became ridiculously long, so I guess you are right in that it warrants a separate post-or maybe an email. We don't do tons of play dates, and when we do, it's almost always our close family friends who have children who have the same rules/expectations which make it seem like just one more sibling.

  7. So glad you are sharing this book with your readers! It is one of my favorites. My Catholic Women's Group did this book as a study several years ago! We are starting "The Birds and the Bees" one next month….and I can't wait!!! Have you read that one?

    1. It's on my bookshelf-ordered that with this book, but haven't opened it yet.

  8. Sarah, you are a gift. Truly a gift! I just ordered this book from Amazon and can't wait to read it. I have 4 small kids (10, 8, 6, and 3) and feel the pressure from outside influences. I love reading your blogs and comments and know that I need to stick to my gut and what works for our family may not be what works for everyone else. I bought the book Small Steps for Catholic Moms and read a page each day. It gives a prayer, a thought and an act. You have probably heard of it, but I think it is wonderful as well. Thank you for your insights to a calm, family centered life. I went to catholic school my entire life and my kids go to the public school, so it is our responsibility as parents to teach them catholic values (along with religious ed on sundays). This is sometimes hard when there are so many other distractions. . Anyway, I am grateful for your blog and find inspiration from it. I can't wait to read along this book with you.

  9. Sarah, this sounds like such a great book. I have put it in my Amazon basket and hope to get it at the start of next month. Thank you so much for telling us more about it.

  10. Oh that part about the positive to negative ratio really got to me. How often (and easily) we tend to point out the negative but over look all the positives. I am so so guilty of that.

  11. I'm not Catholic, but this is fantastic advice for any parent! Thank you for sharing. I'd love to read it. Like Sarah (above) that positive/negative ration really stuck out.

  12. Great summary and reminder once again! I need to go back and re-read though, but quickly looking the list of 12 tips, I wonder how I can be successful at #4.... with 7 kids and 2 parents (to give both the opportunity), that would be 14 different one-on-one opportunities. I wonder if one parent over the other should take this time first, or the parents switch off and on each month. Any tips and ideas on how to make this happen? I'll have to check out the book as well to see if they give more tips on how to make this doable...

    Thanks again SO much for taking the time and reviewing each chapter! I need this accountability and discussion as I read.