Then Comes Baby: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Three Years of Parenthood
by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak
As Pope Francis reminds the faithful in Amoris Laetitia, “The Church is a family of families, constantly enriched by the lives of all those domestic churches” (no. 87). Domestic churches often need support and guidance in order to flourish, especially as married couples embark on the great adventure of parenthood. Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak’s book Then Comes Baby: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Three Years of Parenthood offers copious advice to new parents to help them navigate the early months and years with a new baby.
Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak draw from their experience parenting their own three children as well as from Dr. Popcak’s work as a family counselor. As coauthors of several marriage and parenting books and cohosts of a nationally syndicated radio show, More2Life, the Popcaks know firsthand the challenges of balancing marriage, work and children and they often share anecdotes from their great wealth of experience.
In the first few chapters, the Popcaks remind couples to embrace the great mission of family life. “The Church,” the Popcaks point out, “teaches that every family is called to witness to how—and how much—God loves all his children.” And while they acknowledge that parenting is not without struggles, the authors encourage new parents to truly enjoy their child in imitation of God the Father, who delights in His many children. The authors advocate attachment parenting, an approach to childrearing that includes breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping, baby wearing (using a sling or baby carrier to keep baby close), and practicing a constant attentiveness to the needs of the new baby. While recognizing that not all couples can practice all the elements of attachment parenting, the Popcaks ask couples to consider how they can incorporate as many of these elements into their family life as possible, because they believe this approach helps lay the foundation for a strong family and healthy relationship between parents and their children.
Then Comes Baby walks couples through the first three years of babyhood and early childhood, offering not only guidance on the baby’s routines, rituals, and developmental milestones, but also tips on caring for the mother and the parents’ marriage. At the end of these chapters, the Popcaks offer very practical suggestions on how to balance the needs of the whole family. Parents will find the game and play ideas for baby a helpful resource at every stage of development in those early years.
The book also addresses a very important topic many new parents are concerned with: work-life balance. As mostly work-from-home parents, the authors offer a unique perspective on how to prioritize the demands of their family while maintaining fulfilling, and sometimes demanding, professions. With great sensitivity to this particular subject, the Popcaks acknowledge that there are many ways to be a great Catholic family; the import common denominator is a recognition that all work must be at the service of family life.
The sections dedicated to the toddler years cover a wide range of topics including supporting safe toddler exploration, potty training, toddler discipline, and even advice on how to successfully navigate Mass with a toddler. The chapter entitled “When Is It Time For Your Next Baby?” will inspire couples to keep God at the center of their discernment as they prayerfully consider welcoming another child into their family. Finally, the Popcaks include a number of resources for new parents looking for more information and guidance on some of topics discussed in the book.
Imbued with humor and enthusiasm, Then Comes Baby: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Three Years of Parenthood cheers couples along the path of parenthood with ample support and guidance for those often demanding, yet incredibly rewarding early years of a new baby’s life. In particular, couples wishing to learn more about the principles of attachment parenting will find Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak’s perspective invaluable, and their personal stories filled with many pearls of wisdom.
About the reviewer
Kathleen O’Beirne is a wife, mother of five, a freelance writer and works as a volunteer in the Marriage Preparation Program for the Diocese of Arlington in Virginia.
Disclaimer: Book reviews do not imply and are not to be used as official endorsement by the USCCB of the work or those associated with the work. Book reviews are solely intended as a resource regarding publications that might be of interest to For Your Marriage visitors.