As a mother, I am constantly thinking about and worrying about my children. I think about their health, their education, their friends, their religious upbringing, their happiness, their sadness, their hopes and their dreams. I contemplate what kind of people they will be when they are grown, what will their spouses be like (if they have one), and whether or not I am doing a good job raising them. From the very first moment my heart began to long for a child those thoughts have occupied my mind.
I don’t think that I thought much about chastity when I simply had little ones. Instead my days were filled with diapers, naps, crayon on the walls, gum stuck in long, pretty blond hair, broken arms, food on the floor, and Barney- lots and lots of Barney.
As my children grew older and I soon had both tiny kids and older kids who were facing a world that wanted to educate them in a way that I did not want, my mind often turned to questions about chastity and what I wanted them to know and learn. I wondered how I would tackle tough topics, what exactly I needed to teach them, and when I needed to teach it. Looking back I can see that teaching about chastity began far before I actually thought about it. It began when my little ones were tiny and I taught them about the preciousness and sanctity of their bodies. It began when I started teaching them about the differences between boys and girls and how every person is made perfectly in God’s image.
Today I have 11 children in just about every age range- adult children, teens, preteens, elementary school kids, and toddlers. We are a very open family that can talk about anything. If the kids have a question (and boy do they have questions!) they know they can come to me about anything and I will answer to the best of my ability. It doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t falter or wonder if I’m saying the right things or handling it the best way. But it does mean that I always try to do my best and to welcome them no matter how uncomfortable the subject.
I was recently blessed to review Leila Miller’s new book Raising Chaste Catholic Men. To be honest, I wanted to review the book because I wanted to know what I could do differently to help impress upon my younger boys (ages 10, 4, and 3) what I obviously lacked for my older son who chose a completely different life than we had taught. I wanted to see if there was a magic trick to keeping our boys chaste. What I found out confirmed what I knew all along…
Raising Chaste Catholic Men is an amazing book. To begin with it is a simple conversation between two Catholic moms- Leila and you. Reading the book is like meeting up with a friend, sitting down for lunch, and spending the afternoon drinking coffee (or Diet Coke in my case) , and just talking for hours, so engrossed in conversation that you don’t realize the time slipping away from you. The book is short in length and is perfect for a busy mom to pick up during her hectic day and read. Leila intended the book to be this way. She knew that we have questions, need suggestions, and simply need Catholic support from a mom who has been there and is still knee-deep in the trenches; but she also knew we are often pressed for time. The length of the book and the way it is written acknowledge and respect both our time and our needs.
Leila tackles some truly difficult topics. When my oldest children were little I had no idea that one day I would be talking to them about transgenderism, gay marriage, the demasculinization of our boys and men, or pornography available at their fingertips all day and all night. Raising Chaste Catholic Men doesn’t shy away from these issues. In fact, these and a number of other- masturbation, navigating pop culture, dating, contraception, premarital sex, how to be both parent and friend to your children, video games, computer usage, and how to cultivate manhood- are all part of the book.
Combining Church teachings, the Bible, the Catechism, profound words from popes and other Catholic teachers, as well as a plethora of other resources, Leila helps us understand not only the Church’s teaching on chastity (which is different from abstinence!) but why chastity is imperative to our children’s overall growth and development- heart, mind, body, and soul!
When I finished reading Raising Chaste Catholic Men I felt like I had my own little cheering squad! Despite feeling like there were many times I have failed and even though I have a son who has veered from the path that we have tried to show him, Leila reminded me that all the work we have done has created a firm foundation to which he (hopefully!) will return. My doubts that I was “doing it all wrong” melted away and I knew that regardless of what our children choose (and they can choose to deviate from what we know to be good and holy) the efforts we put into teaching our children is never lost or wasted. She gave some great lasting advice that I know will help me both now and in the future. It was a message I truly needed to hear.
In a world that wishes to strip away what it means to be male and female, Raising Chaste Catholic Men reminds us of the inherent goodness there is to our maleness and our femaleness. We are each perfectly made in God’s image and likeness and while we are made this way, we are also made very differently from one another. This is so that we can complement the opposite sex. We aren’t made for competition but we are created to be one. As Leila so beautifully pointed out, “The reproductive system is the only system in the human body that is completed with someone else.” We are made to complete one another… this is a powerful and important lesson we must impart to our children.
While my way of doing things almost mirrors Leila’s, I will say that even if you choose to do things differently, this book can help you navigate the often winding, rocky path to teaching our children about their sexuality, chastity, and the inherent goodness of their bodies. Building a firm foundation where our children can find peace, hope, love, and joy is imperative. We can only do this if we are willing to tackle tough subjects, keep the lines of communication open, and live a faithful, chaste life ourselves.
I strongly encourage you to read Leila’s book Raising Chaste Catholic Men. You will come away feeling empowered and hopeful. Our sons deserve the best we can give them- that means always teaching the truth and showing them the right path. Raising Chaste Catholic Men will help you in your quest to do this.
If you’d like to purchase Leila’s book, Raising Chaste Catholic Men, you can do so here.
Stop by her website as well to check out her other inspiring and thought provoking articles!
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for this review.
Michelle Fritz is a daughter of God, a cradle Catholic, a Georgia peach, a devoted wife of almost 30 years to amazing husband Mike, and an eclectic homeschooling mother to eleven living children. She has experienced the loss of 16 babies in her call to be open to life, but knows that God is always loving and always gracious. She and her husband know that they have an army of Saints already in heaven!
In addition to her vocation as wife, mom, and homeschool teacher she also holds a Masters in Theology and has recently taken on the role of Youth Minister for both the middle school and high school groups at her parish.