THE TEMPERAMENT GOD GAVE YOUR KIDS
Motivate, Discipline, and Love Your Children
By Art and Laraine Bennett
Our Sunday Visitor, 2012
187 pages, $14.95
To order: osv.com
Catholic parents trying to cope with a “peaceful phlegmatic progeny,” “conquering choleric child,” “moody melancholic moppet” or “spirited sanguine sprout” — or any combination thereof — can relax. Help is on the way.
Art and Laraine Bennett, co-authors of two previous books concerned with temperament, in addition to one focusing on emotion, have turned their attention to the problems and pleasures of dealing with children of all ages, from infants to teens.
“A parent’s job can seem impossible: You are the protector, the guardian, the advocate, the loving teacher who must help each one of God’s precious creations know, love and serve God in this life and ultimately be happy with him in heaven,” they contend.
“If we insist on making a ‘lefty’ throw balls or write with his right hand,” the Bennetts tell us, “we will encounter a lot more frustration, and the child may not reach the potential he would have had he been writing or pitching from his natural strength. The same holds true for temperament.”
Whereas melancholics like to daydream and cholerics can be bossy, phlegmatics are more apt to “go with the flow,” while a sanguine child can be happy one moment and sad the next.
In essence, temperament is the reason that parents — as well as teachers — will achieve better results, both immediately and far into the future, if they rely more on motivation and encouragement and much less on discipline and harsh judgment. Obviously, that’s not always an easy task.
The authors — Laraine writes for CatholicMatch.com’s blog and Catholic News Agency’s Catholic Womanhood site, and Art is president and chief executive officer of Catholic Charities in the Arlington, Va., Diocese — have squeezed in a vast amount of wisdom mixed with common sense. They draw from their own experience rearing four children — one each of the aforementioned types — as well as on their professional expertise.
Fortunately for the reader, they present their findings precisely and in a pleasant, sometimes humorous fashion that makes this book a pleasurable read. Even Lucy and Charlie Brown of the “Peanuts” comic strip are relied upon in the chapter dealing with a choleric child.
Each chapter is introduced with a relevant quotation, mostly from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, but also one from Blessed John Paul II, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The absence of an index is compensated for by the luxury of having the chapters divided into clearly marked subsections, defining such essentials as the characteristics of each particular group, as well as providing examples of measures to avoid and suggested remedies.
There is even a temperament test at the end of the book that parents can take with or without their children. Chapter notes also provide outside sources for parents who want to, or feel the need to, probe deeper.
William Loughlin writes from Glendale, California.