10 Books Every Orthodox Parent Should Read

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Orthodox parents: you have quite the undertaking. You are responsible for raising your children in the Faith and helping them on their path to salvation in Christ. Fortunately, you are not alone! There are many fantastic resources out there to help you. In this post, we share our top 10 book recommendations for Orthodox parents, in no particular order. 🙂

Note: the best resource available to you is your priest! He knows you and your family personally and will be a great source of wisdom for you should you have questions about parenting. And if he cannot give you a direct answer, chances are he knows of a resource that you could benefit from.

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1. The Orthodox Study Bible

This one should go without saying, but unfortunately, there are far too many “Orthodox” Christians who know the Bible quite poorly. If you hope to raise your children to be faithful Orthodox adults, then you must read the Scriptures and understanding the Church’s Traditional interpretation of those Scriptures.

Your children will look to you as an example first and foremost; if they see you neglect the Scripture and never read it, what kind of message will that send them? What do you think they will do, when it comes time to make a decision on their own?

If your parish offers a Bible Study, consider attending. And if they don’t have one, ask your priest if hosting a Bible Study one night a week is something he would consider. Become intimate with the Scripture. Study it with fervor, because in it you will find infinite wisdom not just for your own salvation, but for the salvation of the rest of your family.

2. Blueprints for the Little Church

Written by Elissa Bjeletich and Caleb Shoemaker, this book is a practical guide that helps Orthodox families integrate the life of the Church into the home. MORE MORE MORE

Related: How To Engage Your Children In Church

It focuses on three major elements of the faith: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  I found many helpful tips  and ideas that I can implement into our little church right away.  A fantastic resource for Orthodox Christians!

3. Fasting as a Family

While there are many books out there about fasting in the Orthodox Tradition, there aren’t very many that actually give advice for how to handle the fast with children in the house! Author Melissa Naasko, mother of 11 children, walks you through all the steps toward preparing for a successful fast. Stocking the pantry, meal planning, working with a tighter food budget. She even talks about different options you can employ if someone in the family has a dietary restriction.

This resource is a must for every Orthodox parent who wants to be faithful to the fasting Traditions of the Church.

4. Parenting Toward the Kingdom: Orthodox Christian Principles of Child-Rearing

One of our favorites, this book by Dr. Philip Mamalakis helps parents keep our ultimate goal in mind: the salvation of our children, and of ourselves. In the book, Mamalakis offers practical solutions for how to respond more and react less, how to discipline effectively, and how to truly make our home into a little church.

We find this one particularly edifying because Dr. Mamalakis draws on his own experiences with his children, illustrating how we should (and should not, in some cases) handle misbehavior and insubordination. Every parent (and couple) should read this!

5. On Marriage and Family Life

Written by St. John Chrysostom, this collection of sermons speaks beautifully about the proper dynamics between husband and wife in a healthy Orthodox Christian marriage, and between parents and children in the home. His advice is timeless, his words holding just as much relevance for Orthodox couples today as they did during the fourth century.

Read this together with your spouse. Reflect on the things you are doing well and on the things you could do better. If your children are old enough, read to them the passages in which St. John Chrysostom speaks of their proper behavior in the home and elsewhere. The words of the Saints can be such an inspiration, if we take the time to read them!

6. The Ascetic Lives of Mothers

This prayer book is perfect for mothers, whether they work or stay at home with their children. It can be hard to find time to pray when raising a family. The author, Annalisa Boyd, acknowledges this first and foremost! In the book, she explores the myriad circumstances mothers might encounter in daily life with their children and provides prayers and spiritual encouragement for each situation.

One thing we especially enjoyed was her inclusion of prayers for stepmothers, adoptive mothers, and godmothers. The burdens they often carry are of a completely different nature and should not be forgotten.

7. Know the Faith

Written by Father Michael Shanbour, this book is a must-read for any Orthodox parent. Whether you were baptized as an infant or converted later in life, understanding the fundamental concepts of the Orthodox Faith is essential if we hope for our children to follow the Faith and embrace it in adulthood.

Aimed at a Western audience, the book grounds the major tenets of Orthodoxy in Scripture and in patristic theology. Additionally, it compares Orthodox teachings on each topic with what Roman Catholics and Protestants believe. From the view of the Church and salvation, to icons and Eucharistic practices, Father Michael goes through all the basics for us.

Reading this book will provide you with the tools to talk about your Faith, with your spouse, your children, and others around you.

8. Building An Orthodox Christian Marriage

Building an Orthodox Marriage takes a close look at the theological background of marriage, offering it to readers in an accessible, applicable way. The book delves also into the prayers and liturgical actions of the wedding service itself, explaining their meaning and significance. Finally, the book ends with pastoral guidance for Orthodox couples, whether engaged, newly married, or those who are seeking to enrich their marriage.

No matter where you are as a couple, this book is an indispensable resource. And if you are struggling, it could very well save your marriage!

9. Raising Them Right: A Saint’s Advice on Raising Children

This small book contains the writings of Saint Theophan the Recluse, a beloved Saint in the Orthodox Church. Saint Theophan had the talent to communicate the wisdom of the Fathers to laypeople in terms they could understand. In this small book, he does likewise, providing both practical and spiritual insight into various aspects of parenting.

Of particular interest to many parents will be his passages on guiding the spiritual and psychological development of children through their adolescent years. Saint Theophan’s words, though written over two centuries ago, are still incredibly relevant to Orthodox Christian parents today. Give this one a read, and keep it with you when you need reminders during those challenging moments with your children!

10. Any Orthodox Prayer Book

Last, but certainly not least, every Orthodox parent needs a prayer book. Prayer books help guide both the family and its individual members in prayer throughout the day and whatever situations we might encounter. There are many different versions of Orthodox prayer books out there, so don’t be afraid to try a few different ones to find one that works best for you and/or your family.

At a minimum, try to read the morning and evening prayers every day. If you can pray together as a family, that is certainly best. But it is okay if everyone prays on their own or in smaller groups, if your situation requires it.

Extra: Podcasts on Orthodox Parenting

When you are on the go, or when you have chores around the house, here are a few great podcasts for Orthodox parents that you may find helpful:

What are your favorite Orthodox resources for parents? Share in the comments below!

Keep Reading: Keeping the Orthodox Faith Alive At Home

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