Friday, May 25, 2012
Feast of Saint Bede the Venerable
Good morning. Parenting is a task that in many ways takes on a life of its own. Like a great many jobs the tasks are decided upon by others, and the tasks vary from day to day. There are some general required tasks that come with the job of parenting and one of these is to provide shelter from the elements. There are days we would prefer to be rather extreme in our efforts to shelter our children, preferring they have no exposure at all to a world which poses a great many threats, yet some guided exposure seems necessary in order to prepare them adequately for the reality of a world gone mad. In today’s Gospel Jesus charges us with attending to His sheep. As parents this command is carried out in our attending to the spiritual and emotional development of our children.
The task of parenting in years past was far less complicated, and for the most part was regulated from within and learned at the hands of preceding generations. Things today have become increasingly complicated with others outside the family system infringing upon the responsibilities and decision making traditionally determined by the parents. Much of these changes have come about as a result of parents abdicating their responsibilities, as stay at home mothering became to be seen as the antithesis to the feminist’s dream and tasks once viewed as belonging to parents increasingly got passed-off to schools and other interested government parties. Increasingly the instruction of social skills and development of decision making skills is being consigned to schools and other child care providers which lack the conformation of family which has traditionally met the challenge with a great deal of success. The changes in today’s family and the responsibility for parenting have increasingly placed demands upon our schools and others which they were never prepared or intended to undertake.
I must say that I am not encouraged by what I see for families in the future, and I'm rather pessimistic about any viable solution to the problem of parenting. I certainly do not view any increased involvement on the part of government as being the answer. It was after all government’s intrusions into the family which has led to many of the problems we now see with today’s children. What I do know is that we are beginning to increasingly see the results of permissive and diluted parental involvement, and something will need to change. The answer is indeed complex. This problem did not happen overnight. What I do know from our own personal experiences and years of professionally seeing what does work with families is that, as it has been from the beginning, insistence upon children honoring their parents will win out in the end. As Father Val Peter notes in his book,Love, Warmth, and Discipline: Lessons from Boys Town for Successful Parenting, parents need to be more pro-active and insist that children “honor their father and their mother—an insistence bolstered by prayer, warmth, and self-assurance” and he assures us this “will win out in the end.” Matthew Kelly, author of numerous books, including Building Better Families: A Practical Guide to Raising Amazing Children suggests that as parents we need to " Explore the faith, read great Catholic books, listen to great Catholic speakers." I'm guessing he includes himself among those "great Catholic speakers." We can look to the lives of the saints, and in particular Saint Bede whose life we celebrate today, for ways to live virtuously. Whatever the solution, if our children are going to develop the virtues, self-esteem, resilience, and decision making skills needed to sustain them throughout their lives we as parents are going to need to more effectively and deliberately respond to our Lord’s call to "Feed my lambs." Make a great day!
Today we recall the good life, gifts, and work of Saint Bede.
Posted by Donald Gatwood at 7:50 AM