My heart goes out to the parents of today. Should their children choose a ‘wrong path,’ they get the blame. . Should the children do badly at school, the parents are to be blamed; should they have engaged themselves in a fight or be rude to someone, the parents are to be blamed; should they become drug addicts, of course the parents; should they be expelled from school, surely the parents …and so the story goes. There was a time I was just as guilty and being freshly ordained as a young priest did not help. However, today I thank God for having learnt. Experience is really the greatest teacher. When are we going to stop? Yes, it is true that some parents seem to be irresponsible and do a terrible job. Yes, it is true. However, are not the majority of parents today responsible individuals who take a keen interest in their children’s welfare?
Should there be doubt, well let us just look around. Are the delinquent ones in majority in our neighbourhood today? Can we find responsible children today in our neighbourhoods and schools? Even if only one should be found, their parents should be acknowledged. The world keeps “producing” a multiplicity of responsible and integrated children. Then, if this is so the question remains. Where have they learnt to be responsible? It did not creep up naturally in the night into our children. Someone must have shouldered the responsibility. Our parents, of course whether adopted or natural or another significant other shouldered this responsibility to “parent” these children.
I am not condoning ‘irresponsible parenthood,” for this in itself is against the natural thrust of “nature “and “nurturing.” However, I am trying to say that we need to “big up” our parents. We need to congratulate them on a job well done; for their task is not an easy one. It can be so demanding. I mean so demanding. My heart goes out to the parents who have to juggle a 9 to 5 job and still ensure that their children have acquired the skills that will enable them to contribute meaningfully to the demands of our society today. The truth is most of them do succeed.
Here, I want to take some time to single out our single parents; whether they are male or female. I cannot imagine what you go through daily. It is unimaginable. I think to put it simply you know how to “stretch” not only that dollar bill, but most importantly you know how to stretch yourself…(I wonder how you do it) to ensure that these children of yours will and will follow a path that is conducive to the acceptable norms and values of our world. I congratulate you. You deserve a bow.
I commend also the men and women with no children of their own, who because of “love only” have been moved to the process of adoption. Here something beautiful happens which is too easily forgotten. Two things occur here. The child receives parents only because o f love. This child has been chosen only because of love. I was moved when some time ago I listened to a television programme where an adopted mother was giving her experience. She said words to the effect that when she met the child for her, she knew; for she felt something moved in her guts. This is profound. Adopted parents we salute you. You have given a child an opportunity to be …to be in a family. The reverse is also true as one of my friends recently reminded me. The adopted child gives an opportunity to these parents to become…yes to become parents; a gift and an honour they would not have had otherwise. It is a “process of complementary formation enshrined in love.”
Sometimes I wonder if the demand placed on parents today is not too overwhelming. Why do I say so? Well, it is simple. We sometimes and often refer to the ‘gift of parenting’ as though it were exempted or “cut off’ from society. We make reference to our parents in a way that puts them away from other human beings. It is almost as though they lived on another planet other than earth, even another universe. We sometimes fail to realise that these parents are humans, living in our world. Yes living in our world; the one in which we continue to indulge and participate. The type of society present will be reflected in the quality of ‘parent-hood,” and the parents themselves will influence the society in which they live.
We are all responsible. In the final analysis, it is not about casting blame. This is too simplistic an approach. It is about coming together in dialogue and with a spirit of “openness” to chart a way forward. It is all about having faith in us, in ourselves to find effective solutions for us. It is about finding the solutions’ within’ and not ‘without’; for we are capable and have always been as humans to find amicable solutions. We have this capacity given by God to solve issues.
I think there is nothing that can devastate the heart of parents as to see their children proceed unto a path of destruction. This must be terrible to parents. To see your child “self-destruct’ in the face of your own “state of powerlessness.” This sate or “being able to do nothing” must be like a stabbing of the heart to the parents. This always reminds me of Mary standing powerless at the foot of the cross, being powerless to save her son from death. How quickly we glide over these events of life. It is really those who work in the kitchen who feel the heat. After you have put all your efforts – best as you have known to care for your children and to end up with this result… – it must be a “cross” that is worn every day. In spite of this, these parents can continue to be parents to others. This is commendable.
It is of importance to remember that we live in a pluralistic world, where no “man’ is an island or can even become an island. What we do as individuals or groups have an effect on the entire whole. Therefore, society has an effect on our parents, for they themselves make up this very society. My grandmother and mother taught me this phrase; “blood cannot come from stones,” meaning the kind of society we have today, will be reflected in the qualities of our parents. The reverse is also true. These same parents influence the society in which they or we live. It is a complementary process. Parents are intrinsically “part and parcel” of the society in which they live. They influence the society, and the reverse is true. So where do we go from there? I do not have the answers. I just want to begin a process of reflection. I would like to end this article with a series of questions directed at the reflective process;
What are the structures available today to assist parents in their noble parenting task?
Do we put too much of our attention at the negative aspects of “parenting” instead of accentuating the positives?
Do we give enough recognition to “parenting” as a country or nation?
In addition to “mothers” and “fathers” day what are the other means of acknowledging our parent informing them that their “role” is appreciated and indispensible?
In conclusion, let me reaffirm that this article is by no means exhaustive to the concept of parenting. This is only one aspect. There are many other aspects. However, I believe this “thought” probably can help in our reflection, a reflection geared truly at congratulating our parents on a job well done, in spite of it all.
May God help us all as we form our parents….