Mar. 6, 2017

FAMILY MORALITY AND PROPER PARENTING

FAMILY MORALITY AND PROPER PARENTING

This week’s reflection will focus a little more on family morality and the daunting tasks of being parents. Taking parents to task within this first week of Lent is imperative since they form the bedrock upon which childhood and human developments anchor. There’s certainly no way we could shy away from parental responsibility and still expect society to produce quality leaders. Parents not only take the blame for non-performance but also praise for productive training of kids. So, the role of parents in upbringing of children cannot be overemphasized. According to Pope Francis, “Parents always influence the moral development of their children, for better or for worse. It follows that they should take up this essential role and carry it out consciously, enthusiastically, reasonably and appropriately” (Amoris Laetitia, 259). So our work here is more of encouragement, inspiration and motivation for parents taking cognizance of the craze in today’s society.

When we speak of family morality, we mean good ethical and moral standards; morality based on principles of love, justice and goodness. In this case, it’s not necessarily about the church one takes his/her kids to attend. One thing is clear though; the presence of God has great and indispensable influence in forming one’s morality. However, because of our religious and spiritual upbringing, our morality is mostly informed by, and connected to our religious background. For instance, when I write, it’s mostly from my Christian, then catholic viewpoints. I’m guided by Christian morality which is the basis of my faith. A Muslim thinks and acts from her faith background, so also a Hindu or a Jew. But beyond these differences of faith, there is also an objective morality that guides every person as creatures of God within the same society. “Thou shall not kill”, for instance, falls within this category of morality.

In his encyclical Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul 11 states, “The Church knows that the issue of morality is one which deeply touches every person; it involves all people, even those who do not know Christ and his Gospel or God himself. She knows that it is precisely on the path of the moral life that the way of salvation is open to all. The Second Vatican Council clearly recalled this when it stated that "those who without any fault do not know anything about Christ or his Church, yet who search for God with a sincere heart and under the influence of grace, try to put into effect the will of God as known to them through the dictate of conscience... can obtain eternal salvation". The Council added: "Nor does divine Providence deny the helps that are necessary for salvation to those who, through no fault of their own, have not yet attained to the express recognition of God, yet who strive, not without divine grace, to lead an upright life. For whatever goodness and truth is found in them is considered by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel and bestowed by him who enlightens everyone that they may in the end have life" (Veritatis Splendor, 3; cf. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 16).

Here, we need to accentuate the dictates of conscience. Conscience is the subjective moral judge in every human being which enables the individual to know and to choose what is good and to avoid what is evil. Consciences are formed by different moral authorities- parents or guardians, teachers, church leaders and other superiors. The laws also help to inform our consciences. The moral authorities help us mostly to make moral decisions as we grow up from infancy to adulthood. At each point in our human development, there is always someone who guides and directs the person on the course of right action, who assists to develop one’s certain conscience. Once formed, a certain conscience passes judgement without fear of error. Parents are pivotal in the formation of conscience. They teach the child to talk, walk, eat, sleep, wake, pray, sing, and even greet. If we take our reference from Pope John Paul 11’s statement above, that the issue of morality is one which deeply touches every person, then we see family morality as the responsibility of parents irrespective of religious affiliations. Every other moral authority comes after parents.

Family morality therefore, calls to question the roles and responsibilities of parents in proper upbringing of children, and what challenges they face. The old Scriptural passage maintains, “Train a child in the way he/she should go; when he/she grows old, he/she will never depart from it” (Prov.22:6). Family morality is about making your children responsible, reasonable and conscientious in order to insert productively into the public morality. This week, we’ll reflect on few aspects of what family morality is all about. What can parents do to be more parents? What does it mean for parents to be supportive of their children? Can parents be firm and loving at the same time? Does giving enough time to kids matter? Does getting them to church make any difference? Sometimes you do your best, yet your children do what they like. Do you simply give up?