Raising Chaste Catholic Men: Practical Advice, Mom to Mom by popular Catholic blogger, Leila Miller, is a book I recently had the privilege to read. It got my pen moving, kept my eyes open during late night readings and filled my heart and soul with truth and gratitude. I am so grateful Miller took on this project about issues that are so counter cultural and I’m happy to share my thoughts on it.
There’s so much I love about Miller’s book that I really could just skip writing a review and just yell “READ IT!”
But in case I want to convince you further to put this book in your shopping cart and start it immediately here it goes…
Miller opens her book with a chapter “What This Book Is Not.” After she lays out some disclaimers she concludes the chapter by admitting her book is not a scholarly work. Instead she says:
“This book is the equivalent of one Catholic mom sitting down over a cup of tea with another mom in my kitchen, to talk informally but quite seriously about navigating this culture with your boys’ morality and chastity intact-and to give you the confidence you need to do just that.”
I enjoyed the way the first chapter set the mood and tone of her book and throughout the book it definitely felt like a casual conversation about topics that many hold dear to their hearts.
Miller’s book will bring truth, clarity and guidance to parents who seek to raise chaste, virtuous, masculine men so our young men will be equipped to put on their armor to fight the spiritual battle that rages against them in our secular world. But don’t let the title fool you. This book is not just for mothers, but also fathers, priests, religious, youth ministers, grandparents and realistically anyone who raises boys or teaches them can benefit from the wealth of information and solid advice that Miller gives succinctly and charitably.
Some of the chapter titles include:
* Be His Parent and His Friend
* When They Are Little
* The Two Big Accusations
* The Gay “Marriage” Juggernaut
* Chastity Before and After Marriage
* Straight Talk About Masturbation
* Fear Has a Place
* Navigating Pop Culture
* Training Men Out of Manhood
* Advice From Chaste Young Men
* When Things Go Wrong
As a busy homeschool mother with 4 daughters and a teen son, I appreciated that Miller’s book was short (just 126 pages long) and you knew that Miller, being a busy mother (and grandmother) herself, understood that time is limited for everyone, especially mothers.
Despite the pithy chapters, Miller has a gift of making her point with as few words as possible, but she explains the most complicated subjects with clarity and charity. For example, this is one of many paragraphs that I have highlighted and re-read several times:
“The Catholic Church is the one voice lovingly, carefully, firmly proclaiming, whether anyone listens or not, that sex has a meaning and purpose that cannot be discarded without violating our human dignity. Even when certain members of the Church violate her teaching on human sexuality, including some of the very clergy sworn to holiness, the evil fallout and devastation wreaked upon the innocent is not a negation of but rather an excruciating confirmation of the moral law and the good of chastity.”
Miller informs and encourages the reader with wisdom and sincerity and as a mother, I felt her book gave the boost of confidence I needed to continue the long journey of raising a chaste Catholic son. Reading Miller’s book will give you the encouragement you need even when things go wrong and the young men in your life make choices that are contrary to what God and your heart and soul desires. If this does happen, Miller’s Rule #1 is “Do not freak out!” I respect this rule because there’s a lot to freak out about when trying to raise chaste Catholic men. Miller’s book will leave you with less and less freak out sessions and much more confidence to tackle subject areas that Miller herself has faced as she and her husband have successfully raised some of their own chaste Catholic men.
I recently “interviewed” Leila Miller via email and asked her a few questions as a way for readers to gain some more insight about Miller and her amazing, highly recommended book.
Who/What inspired you to write your book on this particular topic of raising chaste Catholic men?
Several moms over the course of a couple of years asked me to write about how to raise “good men” or “real men” in this crazy culture. When two wonderful moms asked me that same question within a 24-hour period last January, I decided it was time. And so I sat down and started to write.
Did you discuss your book idea with your family first, especially your older children? What were their reactions?
I did, and they thought it was amusing! And when I told my oldest three boys (who are all past puberty, two of them adults) that I wanted them to be a part of the book, I was surprised at how amiable they were to that idea! I have a feeling they are sick of the lack of good men out there, too!
As a busy wife, mom and grandmother, when in the world did you find time to write your book?
Oh, boy! Well, let’s just say I am a night owl, and I don’t get a lot of sleep! I usually work when everyone else is sleeping, since there is so much quiet and no distractions. But I admit that I also tend to neglect housework when I’m writing! Thankfully, I have a very supportive, hardworking husband!
Did you receive any spiritual direction from a priest while you were writing your book?
I actually ran the initial draft by my wonderful, holy bishop, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. His blessings and words of encouragement just put me over the moon! He has been a fan of my blog for some time, and so he has always been an encouragement to me, someone who likes my work. It’s such a consolation, because I would not want to write anything without my bishop’s blessing and approval. He is just an incredible shepherd!
Did you have to fight any spiritual battles as you pursued this topic that is so counter cultural?
Great question! This one went pretty smoothly, praise God, but I already know that the spiritual battle is coming with my next book, Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak, in which I will be giving a voice to the adult children of divorce. That spiritual onslaught began as soon as I simply made the announcement and asked for contributors (who came out of the woodwork, by the way! About a hundred adult children of divorce contacted me in just two days after I said something on Facebook). A small but fierce amount of opposition and hostility came out, too. I covet your prayers!
Which chapter did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing the chapter on “Being His Parent and His Friend,” because it was so unexpected to me, believe it or not. I didn’t expect to write anything like that, but it occurred to me that much of what has brought “success” in raising chaste Catholic men is the friendship we share, parent to child. And it also goes against what used to be my own mantra, “Children need a parent, not a friend!” In the chapter, I explain how to get a balance there, and why it’s so important.
I didn’t love writing the chapter on masturbation, because, let’s face it, it’s an icky topic. Yuck. But we need to speak about it. We need to know how to approach our boys. We need to realize that in a society of ubiquitous porn, masturbation becomes an addiction just like the porn itself. So, while it was an unpleasant chapter to write, it was also one of the most interesting and hopeful, believe it or not.
In one of the chapters at the end of your book you have young men answer questions concerning living chastely in a secular world. Some of these men were your own grown sons. Did you learn anything new about your own sons after they answered the questions? Did anything they said surprise you?
I was surprised that they were so willing to talk about it, and didn’t fight me! I was thrilled with the depth of the answers, and it made me want to fall on the ground in gratitude to God that they “get it.” God is merciful! I was taken by the very different “mood” of each boys’ contribution, and I marveled at that, really appreciating how uniquely God has created all of our boys. It was quite a treat, and very moving for me to realize that these are my babies, all grown up.
If you could tell parents and anyone who works with young boys/men one piece of advice about raising chaste Catholic men, what would it be?
Be completely open to answering any question. Make sure that they know you are always available to talk, and that no topic is off-limits. They should never, ever be embarrassed to come to you with a question or problem, even and especially in the area of sexuality.
Please feel free to share anything else you would like others to know about your project and book.
Although the subtitle is “Practical Advice, Mom to Mom,” the book is quite practical for fathers, too. I didn’t write it specifically with fathers in mind, but the feedback from dads has proven to me that it’s just as helpful for them as well!
Thank you Leila Miller for writing Raising Chaste Catholic Men: Practical Advice, Mom to Mom and for taking time to answer my interview questions!
If you are interested in learning more about Leila Miller’s book and hear her talk about it, be sure to click over and listen to these radio interviews that she did!