BETWEEN PARENTS AND CHILDREN
[continued from yesterday]
Since children have to remain with their parents for such a long time between being born and making a home for themselves the mutual duties should be clearly defined. And the Church has defined them. Speaking generally, the parents owe their children love and education, whilst the children owe their parents love, reverence, and obedience.
Of education I shall speak in a special chapter.
The love which ought to exist between parents and children is founded on the fact of generation. That act is the earthly analogy of the divine act of creation. The relationship between Creator and creature, together with all its beautiful implications of redemption, preservation, providence, and so forth is visualized for us in the invocation of the prayer of Christ: "Our Father who art in heaven."
This is the archtype of the relationship which should exist between earthly parents and their children.
Parents are certainly superiors over their children. But this superiority does not, as many of them seem to suppose, give them a right to treat their children harshly and inconsiderately. If the first attribute of the heavenly Father towards His earthly children is that of love, then the first duty of earthly parents to their offspring is that of love. Their children are flesh from their flesh, and, as such, nothing under God should be dearer to them. In so far as the children are made to feel this, so much more will they be able to appreciate the tenderness of the Fatherhood of God.
The habit of mind by which parents love their children constitutes the special virtue of pietas or dutifulness. Consequently, offences against it are sins. Parents, then, out of consideration for their own souls as well as the souls of their children will be ever on their guard against anger and loss of temper. This is difficult for mothers with large families. All the more reason why they should recognize the fact, and prepare for it by prayer and the Sacraments.
Again they will avoid the habit of always finding fault. "Go and see what Willie is doing and tell him he mustn't." The habit tends only to lessen the authority of, and respect and love due to parents.
On the other hand, they will be careful not to spoil the children by giving them all they ask for. Such indulgence is a sin against the virtue of dutifulness.
Above all things, they will not show favoritism. It would be too much to expect absolute equality in all cases. A mother who has had seven girls and then one boy would naturally give the boy little preferences. But preferences ought to be only such as the other children would willingly approve of. So long as one in the family is made to feel that he or she is not in the same favor as the others, he or she will ever be the cause of disturbance, and the blame will lie chiefly with the parents....
From Marriage and Parenthood, The Catholic Ideal
By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
Author of "Cords of Adam," "The Wayfarer's Vision," ETC.
Copyright, 1911, by Joseph F. Wagner, New York.