Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Pastoral Care of Children

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Pastoral Care of Children

Article excerpt

The Pastoral Care of Children. By Daniel H. Grossoehme. Binghamton, NX: The Haworth Press, 1999. 160 pp. $74.95 (cloth); $21.95 (paper).

In the hospital where I was a chaplain, we had a specialty unit that treated children who were profoundly retarded or otherwise disabled from conditions such as thalidomide disfigurement or cocaine addiction at birth. The level of functioning was in every case so minimal that all the staff, doctors, nurses, therapists, and chaplains considered it a major accomplishment to get a smile of recognition. In that milieu it was easy and natural for me as the chaplain to concentrate my pastoral care on the families of patients and the treatment staff.

So Grossoehme's book, The Pastoral Care of Children, was highly intriguing to me, since my experience as a chaplain to children had not included much interaction with those same children. Grossoehme has written a highly readable and extremely useful handbook for providing appropriate care to children, from infants to late teens, who find themselves hospitalized. Grossoehme draws heavily on his own extensive experience as a chaplain in a children's hospital and, while other chaplains will certainly find much useful information, this book is aimed primarily at parish clergy and other pastoral caregivers, both lay and ordained, who are not hospital chaplains.

His thesis is that there is no other pastoral setting that raises as many questions about God's nature as that which deals with the health (and potential death) of children. He carefully outlines the uniqueness of pastoral care to children; how to engage them meaningfully in hospital and health conversations; the effective use of Scripture story in attempting to explain illness to children. He discusses different approaches to the patient for different age groups, and describes specific techniques for engaging acute settings such as in an emergency room and for chronic medical conditions. …

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