New book applies Greek philosophy to modern parenting
Conor Gallagher studies Greek philosophy, but he does not live in the past. He strives to bring the eternal truths of Greek (and Christian) thinking to his present life as a husband and father of eight children.
Over the years, he has even picked up a small store of wisdom that he is now sharing in his insightful, funny and aphoristic book called If Aristotle’s Kid Had an iPod: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Parents. Don’t worry, it’s in English.
Gallagher, 33 years old, graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville, and holds a law degree from The Catholic University of America. He lives with his wife, Ashley – the mother of those eight children, ages 10, 9, 8, 6, 5, 3, 1 and 4 months – in Fort Mill, South Carolina. He is Vice President of Saint Benedict Press, a family business which bought TAN Books a few years ago. He philosophized with Fathers for Good about his book and the meaning of life.
Fathers for Good: How did you come up with the topic for this book? To borrow from the Greek, did you have a EUREKA moment?
Conor Gallagher: Like lots of young parents, I spent some time perusing Barnes & Noble, looking for a good book on parenting. All I found was a bunch of modern garbage, written by “experts” who didn’t know anything about human nature, virtue and vice, and true happiness. But during my philosophy studies in grad school, I found all these topics in the writings of Aristotle. Sure , the guy has been dead for around 2,300 years, but his understanding of human beings was spot on. So I would study Aristotle by day and look at my crazy rug-rats by night, and the answer was right in front of me: Aristotle is the answer to raising kids! This small insight informed my reading of Aristotle from then on. Before long, everything I read by Aristotle started applying to my kids. “Well,” I said to myself, “Why don’t I help parents understand Aristotle?” A few years later, I had a book!
FFG: What message does Aristotle (and the book) have for parents today?
Gallagher: The answer is simple: If you want to raise virtuous and happy kids, you have to understand their human nature. A “horse whisperer” understands the nature of a horse. A “dog whisperer” understands the nature of a dog. Well, if you want to be a “kid whisperer” you’ve got to understand the nature of a kid. Lucky for you, your kid has the same nature as you do. It is called human nature. God made it and it isn’t changing. The gadgets and gizmos of the 21st century might be new, but they don’t change human nature.
FFG: Tell us about your own family life. Do you speak Greek proverbs at the dinner table?
Gallagher: My family is awesome. My wife is beautiful, smart, fit, funny, a great cook, a good teacher (we homeschool). She is super-human. Most of the time, I am sub-human. My kids are like the Little Rascals. There is always a broken bone, a toad in someone's pocket, or a practical joke that scares my wife to death. But we have a ton of fun. We pray together. We try to eat together regularly. We try to live balanced lives. Aristotle would be proud (I hope). And yes, I do speak Greek proverbs at the dinner table. “It is better to suffer injustice than to commit it,” is very understandable, even for a 5-year-old. “The unexamined life is not worth living,” is understandable for an 8-year-old. “Virtue is the mean between extremes,” is understandable by kids of all ages. The problem is that adults don’t get it. The modern adult brain is so filled with junk that nothing good can fit. But a kid’s mind is like a blank canvas, waiting to be filled with beautiful things.
FFG: What is St. Benedict Press and how did you get involved?
Gallagher: I am blessed to work for the family business. My father started Saint Benedict Press and purchased TAN Books. I run the day-to-day operations. It is hard. It is exhausting. It is very much like any job. And yet, it is a great blessing. I love working with all this Catholic stuff. But if I don’t stop to smell the roses, I fail to appreciate it. It is all about perspective.
For more information, visit St. Benedict Press.