“Where are our children?” Question raised by Pope Francis in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia echoes the concern of several parents regarding their children especially the youth. The Pope was remindful of the deteriorating moral, spiritual and social standards of the society and exhorts the parents to be vigilant on the consequent replication of dangerous elements in the lives of the children.
Younger generations are in advantageous position as the technological advancements stands easily accessible to them than to any other people. Subsequently, they swipe to Watts App to say ‘Hi’ to a friend who sit next to them, continuously update “Status” boxes to express themselves, hovers around for likes and comments at Instagram, and enjoy added beauty of their faces with high resolution selfi-phones. Keeping in view of all these elements Pope elaborates the duties of parents in upbringing their children. “Who is providing them entertainment? Who are entering to their rooms through Television and other Electronic devices and with whom they are spending time?” With all its workable possibilities he prophesies that “vigilance is always necessary and neglect is never beneficial”. We cannot control every situation a child may experience or undergo. Call of the time demands not an installation of a GPRS radar with which we can trace every movement of the child and lead them on the dreaming single line tracks of our expectations. Quite often we tend to control where they are. Instead we must ensure where the child is in his/her decisions, attitudes and moral judgements and more importantly where his/her “soul is”. Child may be praying, helping you out in domestic works, learning, and speaking to you. This cannot be singlehandedly judged as a token of their faithfulness. Therefore Pope has the opinion that parents cannot completely delegate the moral formation of children to others.
While elaborating on the obligations of the parents, Bible always reminds us of the disciplinary upbringing of children (Prov. 19:18; 22:6; 23:13). Jesus breaks protocol to bless the little children (Mt 19:14). His comforting words amidst his suffering, “…weep for yourself and for your children” (Lk 23:28) in a way, echoes the immediate concern of parents to be put in for their children.
Parents who are eager to secure the fruitful future of their children with best possible education and lifelong possessions often invest zero efforts in their moral development. We have a brilliant boys and girls before us but how many call them righteous and upright. This is part of the reason why children who turns out with bright colours in competitive exams fails miserably in the ‘life examinations’ even without attempting considerably less difficult questions of everyday life. Therefore a continuous and friendly intervention of parents are requisite for our society.
Our youth encounters a highly conflicting world. Fear and pessimism engulfs their lives. The swooping winds of competition may scatter many to the sidelines. It is the duty of the parents to prepare their children to face the hard realities of life with happiness and confidence. There is an ample room for correction also in formation. Children who are corrected with love imbibe the feeling that they are respected, being cared and accepted of their abilities.
Care should be given to inculcate good manners and habits in the children. “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray” (Prov. 22:6).St Therese of Child Jesus would say, “to know how saints pray I always looked at my father’s face.” St John Marie Vianney recollects that he first experienced a thirst for holiness at the age of four when he went to Church hanging on his mother’s right hand. None might differ in the fact that how children behave at home ultimately frames their behaviour outside. Parents must clearly communicate the children that every desires and dreams are not accomplished and some dreams could be postponed for better and mature realizations.
History sings sagas of stretched hands and weeping eyes behind every prodigal return to prosperity. Let us tread their steps from pleasure seeking roads to truth seeking passages. Free up their ears from the diabolic noise of the earphones to the painful groaning of the multitudes in and around us. Let us lift their faces from I phones to the Heavenly Father.
Fr Sebastian Kallarackal CST