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Dr. Michael H. Kiely presents “best practices” for faith parenting, based on experiences and strategies shared by six Unification families in raising children who ultimately made their family’s faith their own.
Their testimonies about what did not work, as well as what worked, are fascinating, funny, heartbreaking and very enlightening. They adjusted what they did to something that can be called a “Best Practice.” Through their words this book covers what not to do as well as what to do in faith parenting your kids.
Raising children in the 21st century is a daunting task. Raising children to live a faith-filled life and who have the strength and courage to live that faith in today’s culture is an even more challenging task for parents. This is why parents and faith communities have sought to find the right formula and the best resources that will ensure the most effective way to pass on their faith and the habits of a faithful life that they want their children to inherit and embrace. Michael Kiely has taken up this challenge in his book, Unification Faith Parenting: 13 Best Practices. Acknowledging the difficulties that our children face in becoming faithful, God-loving young men and women in the 21st Century context of what Kiely notes is an anti-religious and anti-family culture, the book offers thirteen simple yet profoundly rich practices that can support all parents wishing to pass on their faith to their children and to future descendants.
What makes the book a good practical resource is the scholarship and research that Kiely has put into it weaving together interviews with six families that he feels exemplifies one or more of the best practices, demonstrating that these are not just academic concepts but are genuinely effective means to passing on one’s faith. What makes the interviews powerful is that both parents and their young adult children were involved in the discussions. And while each of the families interviewed are from within the Unification faith, the lessons learned from them and from the scholarship are applicable to any faith-based family seeking support in guiding their children. Each chapter is divided into understanding the basis and meaning of the noted practice, how the practice translates into Unification thought and how it is practiced. Ranging from having a passionate faith, to the need to continually study God’s rich word together as a family to creating an environment that nurtures and supports a faith-filled life each chapter is filled with deep insights and genuine guidance based on experience of making each practice a natural part of one’s family life. Recognizing that this is an on-going learning process, Kiely encourages readers to share their own story so that we may continue to discover the power and grace of faith parenting.
~Dr. Kathy Winings, Professor, Religious Education, Vice President, Board of Directors for IRFF
I was fascinated and challenged by Michael Kiely’s study on parenting in our movement. For me is was a look in the mirror. I saw things my husband and I did well and things we could have done much better. Dr. Kiely conducted a careful study of parenting and faith with extensive interviews of six Unification families who have at least one adult child serving in a pastoral role of some kind. I found the answers each family member shared were real, honest and vulnerable. He looked at elements it takes to grow and sustain faith and tradition through generations. He distilled these to 13 best practices for parenting.
Dr. Kiely stresses that the family and home is the primary place to learn our faith. There is no substitute for parents loving each other and working on that relationship. There is no substitute for showing unconditional love and acceptance of each child. There is no substitute for passionately living, modeling and teaching our faith in our home with our family. Making the practice of that faith fun or at least interesting and age appropriate is important also.
I recommend this book to all young families of faith to help them make important and intentional decisions in how they want to create their kingdom of heaven in their home for their family and community. I recommend this book to all parents who have adult children. It can make a difference in understanding our family relationships now. I have discovered our Heavenly Parent gives us a second change as a grandparent and I want to get this right. So, if you are a grandparent or soon to be one this can be a valuable look in the mirror.
~Hon. Marjorie Buessing, New Hampshire
“Unification Faith Parenting” is an excellent read for parents, church leaders, pastors and leaders of youth groups. Parents will find comfort in the book as they identify with their own struggles raising children of faith and hope as they learn to trust in the original nature of their children and find beauty in a life of faithful love and service. Drawing from traditional Christianity and the teachings of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church, Dr. Kiely documents the gamut of experiences of six Unification families as they deal with the modeling and teaching of their faith in family life. His interviews with the families unveil the honest path of idealistic first generation parents who seek to instill that faith with an evolving understanding of their children and the unique responses of each child.
Of interest in the book is the unfolding of unconditional love that may supersede the imparting of the doctrine of the church, as parents recognize their children’s developing autonomy. Dr. Kiely notes that as many parents began to appreciate their children’s differences in response to their faith, these parents also realized the need for their children to develop naturally in their evolving faith.
~Nora M. Spurgin, MSW, Former Principal of Bridgeport International Academy, Former President of Women’s Federation for World Peace — USA
Comprehensive Guide for Unification Faith Parenting
This well-researched book by Dr. Michael H. Kiely should be in the hands of every parent who is striving to raise his or her child in the Unification faith tradition. The 13 Best Practices are very well conceived and written with extremely practical tips including how to live by example (modeling), teaching and guiding, expressing unconditional love consistently, and much more. These Best Practices form the basis of a solid Unification family and upbringing. In addition to providing both Christian and Unification faith perspectives on parenting, the writer wisely includes throughout the book the honest, unabridged comments from six Unification families—both from the parents and their children—sharing their personal experiences of parenting or being parented, along with the highs and lows, do’s and don’ts, and key lessons learned that help make this book a truly handy, practical, down-to-earth reference. I highly recommend this book for Unification parents who are still raising their children at home, as well as for parents of children who have already grown. Once a parent, always a parent. Thank you, Dr. Kiely, for this excellent book. It’s a wonderful contribution to our national and global Unification community, and I believe for anyone, anywhere, of any faith, who seeks to parent their child in a Godly way.
~Bento C. Leal III, Relationship Skills Trainer and author of the book “4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication in Love, Life, Work—Anywhere!”
Unification Faith Parenting: 13 Best Practices by Michael Kiely presents ground-breaking research on the family life of first-generation Unificationist blessed families in the United States. Unificationism is a movement that upholds marriage and family as God’s core purpose of creation, and strives to create a world in which all families can realize this monumental ideal, indeed embodying the substance of the living God of love. Well, asks Dr. Kiely in his Doctor of Ministry dissertation at Unification Theology Seminary, how well are we doing?
To answer this question, Dr. Kiely conducted in-depth interviews with six blessed families–both parents and children. He organizes his findings under 13 “best practices,” that run the gamut from attending God, to loving one another, to authentic conversation, to protecting virginity. He shares, for comparison’s sake, a general description of traditional Christian approaches to those practices, but the bulk of the book, and what gives it its great value, is his copious accounting of the Unificationist family experiences. The substance of the book is in fact the verbatim input from dads, moms and sons and daughters, extracted from his interviews and surveys.
On all practices, the respondents shared honestly both the triumphs and failures, the good, bad and ugly, if you will, and this is tremendously valuable. Couples and children are wonderfully honest, and this is something that I could relate with, as a first generation Unificationist father, and I imagine all of this cohort across the country will be able to relate to–and learn from. The honesty and Dr. Kiely’s analysis makes the book very helpful for parents and children of all families, to know that whatever we have gone through or are going through has been experienced by others, that we are not the only ones to experience the difficulties and to celebrate success, and that there are more and less effective ways to raise children in the Unificationist tradition.
The findings are useful not just for parents and future-parents, but for church leaders and clergy whose mission includes, really as its major component, the creation of ideal three generation families. Bravo to Dr. Kiely for providing a book of value to individuals, family, clergy and church leaders. Certainly, the findings on best practices–on what works and what doesn’t work–should be shared among the larger faith community. And one hopes that such research, imbued with good old American honesty, will inspire Unificationists in other countries to share their experiences.
Three things I would have liked to have seen in the book. One is some description of these six families, to take them at least a little bit out of the shadows of anonymity. For example, their age, racial composition (how many were interracial couples? and what races?), how long they were married, types of jobs or missions, number and genders of children, number of grandchildren. Two, a general account of the current status of each family, in terms of how many children are blessed or not-blessed, how many grandchildren, how far apart they live, perhaps other indicators. Three, for a future study–a large-scale survey of first generation blessed families in America with generalized questions, to complement this in-depth information from six families.
But not all things can be accomplished in one doctoral dissertation, and I laud Dr. Kiely for his achievement with this work, and laud Unification Theological Seminary for creating an environment for important research into the reality of this important global movement and its experience in the United States.
~Tyler Hendricks, Ph.D., Educator
Raising Godly children is no easy feat. In the world we live in today that is spiraling towards a free-sex and anti-religion culture, it is becoming increasingly challenging to instill faith-based values in the next generation. As a young Unificationist mother who is actively serving in ministry, this has been one of my greatest concerns, creating a family environment that cultivates faith and that will encourage my children to connect to God and hopefully accept the Unificationist faith.
In this effort, Dr. Kiely’s book “Unification Faith Parenting: 13 Best Practices” was a breath of fresh air. This book was healing and insightful. It truly delivered just what it set out to do, and that is to provide best practices based on a lifetime of experience to help Unificationist Parents guide their children to cultivate and maintain their faith throughout young adulthood amidst a culture that devalues it. This book addresses not only the best practices, but the pitfalls, growth and development of parenting in these six families. Through these families’ honesty, vulnerability and hard work, the next generation can have a much better foundation for the future in terms of faith based parenting. There are some gold nuggets that any parent or grandparent can learn from, regardless of their spiritual beliefs.
This book could have a substantial impact on parenting and is a valuable tool for parents wishing to raise their children in the Unificationist faith.
~Rev. Mari Curry, FFWPU Education Director, National Council President. Former Youth Pastor