“Since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them… in conformity with their moral and religious convictions”
Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality
Parents are the first and primary educators of their children. They are in the best position because they know their children best. This responsibility is given by God and should be considered a privilege. Today there are many pressures upon children and families in this regard. Many parents are not aware of the level of influence they have in their children’s life. Serious problems arise when parents are disconnected from their children.
The call to love is more powerful than the imposition of fear. If you love somebody, you want to do what is best for the other person. Some children have low self-esteem. The need to be built up emotionally can happen by the simple words, “You look beautiful” or “I love you.”
Sometimes in society there is a complete loss of healthy touch – either too much emphasis or a complete phobia of it. We all have a need for human touch. Mother Theresa was aware of the need to be touched by others frequently, especially the elderly. With a healthy sense of human touch, one is given the sense of being protected.
Some men need good male role models. When they are given a tangible and physical role model they realise it is possible to be virtuous. Without a solid role model, they can find the wrong group of friends and not have a clear reference point of what it is to be a man. Every young person needs a man who gives him support and affirmation so that he can come to a healthy sense of self identity and know how to relate to other men.
Prayer is of utmost importance for families. If we ask God for something he will shower us with gifts. Saint Augustine of Hippo was a badly behaved child, but when he grew up he learnt how to be a saint. The prayers of another saint (his mother) was important in helping him get to this state. Parents do not need to blame themselves when children veer off in undesirable directions. God is the best parent in the universe. He gave his children free will, and look what happened! St Francis said be patient with the whole world, but first of all with yourself.
It is important to be a parent first and not a friend of your child. Parents do not need to have the fear of being rejected by their children. It is important to keep tabs on the friends of your children make and note who they spend time with. It is good to have good communication with the parents of their friends. You do not hear many ‘thank yous’ as a parent. Your newly born baby is not going to thank you for changing his nappy. Your children are not going to thank you on a regular basis. It is important to do what is best for your children rather than succumb to their own desires.
Internet safety is essential in securing the purity of your family. If you put your computer in a communal area of your house it can help prevent an occasion of sin on the internet. Parents need to learn how to check the internet history properly on the computer. Putting a filter on your computer can provide priceless protection.
Parents can learn a lot from the parenting network of other parents at school and in the community. The parents of children’s friends can share the same values. Children learn a great deal from personal example. As humans learn by imitation, personal example happens by osmosis in the home.
You do not need perfection to have authority as a parent. Parents should have an authentic interest in their children without interrogation. The power of listening can do tremendous good.
The most important and best thing you can do for your children is to show the great love between husband and wife because the image of the love of God is then present.