A child’s first years are critical. Bonds with parents are established, major brain development occurs, and familial love and acceptance form how he views himself and others around him. Most professionals agree that the early years are foundational for success in life.
What has not always been given equal consideration is the importance of later childhood brain development. A child’s brain continues to develop throughout the teen years, and the manner in which parents respond during that time is crucial.
In Mary Lee Dey’s book Speak to Your Children: 79 Handy Conversations to Help You Raise Dynamic Catholic Leaders on Truth and Life Issues for a Better World, she addresses many of the issues parents face while raising children.
Dey, a Natural Family Planning instructor certified in Catholic Family Life, served as a crisis pregnancy director and as a counselor. The Nebraska resident and mother of four speaks on pro-life and family issues and has presented parent sessions with her books for the past 15 years. Through her research, she came to understand that many parents were not given the proper tools to help their children live moral, healthy, and successful lives.
Speak to Your Children is designed like a parenting manual and contains written exercises throughout to help parents assimilate the lessons. Though published in 2018, her materials still remain relevant as kids navigate the tough issues of the day: transgenderism and LGBTQ issues, abortion, depression, substance abuse, and premarital sex.
Expounding on Catholic principles and doctrine, Dey demonstrates key examples for successfully speaking to children. She teaches that the parent must use appropriate language and provide a respectful foundation for navigating life’s challenges.
In the foreword, American Life League’s president, Judie Brown, praises Dey’s attention to the dynamics of issues such as gangs, drug abuse, and peer pressure. Brown writes: “Dey explains the underlying reasons that create peer pressure. She uses the acronym SCARE, which stands for secrecy, control, addiction, ridicule, excuses, and enemies.”
On topics such as sexuality and marriage, Dey’s approach is to reach children when they’re ready. Using scripture as a foundation, she walks parents through exercises in chastity and courtship.
The book contains seven chapters on life issues and grows with the children. The first three chapters address ways to teach children to develop love and respect. The next three chapters prepare children to develop a solid foundation to combat addictions, sexual abuse, depression, and violence. The final chapter outlines methods to teach youth about the foundations of the Catholic faith and how to defend it.
Incorporating the sacraments, the Rosary, Mass attendance, and the Ten Commandments, as well as other tenets of the faith, this book will become a vital part of your home library. If parents truly work through the exercises, they will have a better chance of raising solid Catholic children who have the tools necessary to avoid many of life’s vices.