Raising Upright Kids in an Upside-Down World
By Dr. Ray Guarendi
EWTN Publishing, 2020
144 pages, $14.95
To order: ewtnrc.com or (800) 854-6316
From the opening pages of his book, Dr. Ray Guarendi minces no words: Raising Upright Kids in an Upside-Down World begins with this dedication: “To those parents who persevere heroically through a culture that besieges them.”
“Dr. Ray” is an experienced clinical psychologist, TV and radio parenting personality, and father of 10. He defines “the culture” as “society’s reigning morals, attitudes, and conduct — in essence, what it values, what it pushes as acceptable and ‘enlightened’ living.”
Twenty-first century Christian parents, who look out into that culture and literally fear for their children’s souls, are not imagining it: It really is that bad out there. In centuries past — even as recently as 50 years ago — those with power and influence in the wider world still “had little or no reach into the child’s world. Their power to mold him into their image was minimal, if they had any at all.”
Today, the exact opposite is true. Those who oppose how Christian parents want to raise their children have enormous reach into the once protected, hidden enclave of family life.
And the social engineering conducted by those with authority and influence in media, the arts, entertainment and education is indeed deliberate. “They seek to move their audience toward their own version of the good society,” explains Dr. Ray. “[The] political, social, and moral outlook of those who dwell in the upper echelons … does not remotely align with those of the typical American.”
This well-written book covers all the top-of-mind topics for today’s Christian parents: cellphones and other high-tech devices, social media, television and the internet, peer influences, and materialism. There’s also a helpful section on dealing with friends, neighbors, relatives — even grandparents — who may be more permissive and/or less vigilant than you.
Dr. Ray’s constant refrain is to encourage parents to fearlessly wield their God-given right to call the shots in their family: “It starts by reaching higher than most — in love, in time, in standards, in supervision. It means protecting your child longer from soul-assaulting external influences. It means granting liberties based upon your child’s moral maturity and not his age or the freedoms of his peer group. Overall, it means being resolved, whenever and however, to be countercultural.”
The book lacks detailed, granular advice about specific aspects of high-tech, but that is just as well: Technology changes so quickly that any specific solutions would quickly become dated. Instead, with warmth and good humor, Dr. Ray affirms Christian parents’ instinctive misgivings about the things their children clamor for, and he gives parents the reinforcement they need to confidently put on the brakes:
Yes, smartphones and social media are bad for children, and their use should be sharply curtailed.
Yes, the internet is a dangerous place for children without supervision, and you should closely monitor their use of your home computer.
Yes, “television will teach your children attitudes, morals, and behaviors absolutely opposed to yours,” and you have a right and a duty to limit their exposure to it. And, adds Dr. Ray, “No little kid should be anywhere near YouTube.”
Dr. Ray also warns that children are not the only ones who succumb to peer pressure: Today’s parents are also under tremendous pressure to go along with a culture that has become toxic for all, adults and children.
Nevertheless, we have a choice.
“The culture is in the air we breathe,” writes Dr. Ray. “How deeply you and your children breathe it in, however, remains very much under your control.”
Clare Walker writes from Westmont, Illinois.