I follow Archbishop William Goh of Singapore in his daily readings. I thought today’s was a particularly good one for parents.
Here is the key section. You can read the whole piece here.
The future of humanity is dependent on whether our children have an ambience of a truly loving family, where parents are united in love and forgiveness; and where gospel-based values are not only taught but lived and practised. In the final analysis, what the child becomes would be dependent on the kind of formation and education they receive. Unfortunately, parents today see academic performance as the only value in education. We are more concerned about whether our children are enrolled in the top schools for academic performance rather than for the moral and religious values they impart. Success is reduced to getting good grades and not about formation in ethical and moral values. Without paying attention to the religious and moral upbringing of our children, we are grooming a generation without values, a body without a soul, one that is self-centered, materialistic and lacking virtues.
Today as we celebrate the Birthday of John the Baptist, we are reminded of our responsibility as parents. Every child is truly a gift of God to the world. As parents and guardians of children and those entrusted to look after young people, we have a duty to help each child to be truly a gift of God to the world.
This entails, first and foremost, helping them to realize the plan of God for them. We are all called even before we were born. Indeed, every child has a purpose in the plan of God. Our task is to help each child to fulfill God’s desire for them; not ours. As parents, we have a duty to be like Elizabeth who raised her child to become what God had called him to be.
So the first duty of parents is to lead their children to God. This is the most important duty of parents. Even if we have given them the best education to face the world, but if we fail to give them Jesus, we have failed miserably. The greatest gift we can give to anyone is Jesus; not toys, electronic gadgets, food or holidays! When we give them Jesus, we give them everything, purpose, mission, enthusiasm, peace, love and joy. When we lead them to God, they become loving and caring people. Those who know God will also love their neighbours. Just instructing them alone is not sufficient to give them the strength to love. We must give them Jesus so that they can be molded in His image and likeness.
Indeed, it is our task to help them regain the glory of God lost through sin. By giving them Jesus, they in turn will become the light of the world. They will become the messengers of the Lord, like John the Baptist. “It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” We must give our children purpose and a sense of mission or vocation in life.
How can we become God’s formators for our children? Being broken and wounded ourselves, we must, as parents and guardians, seek healing. We must face the fact that we are not perfect as parents. We too are in need of healing and reconciliation. In humility, we must admit that we too are seeking to grow in grace and in the love of God so that we can exercise the fatherhood and motherhood of God in our lives. We are wounded healers. It is vital that if we are to heal others, we must initiate the healing process ourselves. We must ask forgiveness from our children and our spouse.
Secondly, our children also need healing like us. They too are hurt, wounded, broken, bitter, angry and resentful with us and also with God. Many do not know how to express their hurts. In fact healing them is more challenging as they are unable to articulate their pain, since most of these pains are repressed in their sub-conscious. They do not even want to talk about them as they lack trust in people, since their very parents whom they trust so much have betrayed them. So when these are all bottled up, no healing can take place. For young people, we have to be extremely patient and tolerant. Before we can get them to open up, we need to regain their confidence, trust and love.
How then can this process be helped? We must pray for the inner healing of such individuals. Besides inner healing, another important area of healing is inter-generational healing. The basis for this healing is rooted in the fact that we are somehow inter-related. What we are today are very much determined and conditioned by the genes and traits we have inherited and the environment we have been formed.
If we have tried our best as parents to raise our children in the faith, then we can just surrender them to God and leave them to His mercy. We know we are not inadequate as parents and we should not blame ourselves too much for our children going wayward. Society has a great part to be blamed too and this is not within our control. We can only do what we can. And so like the Suffering Servant, let us take courage and confidence in God for He said, “I have exhausted myself for nothing; and all the while my cause was with the Lord, my reward with my God. I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord, my God was my strength.” Yes, the psalmist says, “O Lord, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar.”