Be a role model

Without doubt, children copy their parents’ behaviour. This places a huge responsibility on parents. Therefore, parents must not only teach but also practice what they teach their children. The same principle applies in matters of faith.

By Robert and Joyce

The world over is adjusting to the “new-normal” situation post-COVID that has allowed for more interactions. This year, activities were very much welcome as we interacted more with extended family through functions, visits with friends, other social gatherings as well as easing of restrictions during Mass and local Christian community meetings. Closer interaction meant time to appreciate changes amongst friends and families – home re-locations, change of schooling for children, different work routines and other subtle changes in overall lifestyles.

One key matter we have come to appreciate through renewed interactions is that parenting challenges are not unique and present themselves in one form or another. To the outside world, our children may appear so well behaved and responsible and challenges we are undergoing with parenting may be hidden from others. It is no different for us; friends and family will admire our children and when they witness us reprimand them, they will feel we are being too hard on them. This is particularly true with grandparents.

As parents, we demand more from our children. Rightfully (or not), we hope they will not make mistakes similar to those we did at their age and place them in positions to excel as best as we can despite their protestations. We want to deposit in the children all the knowledge and experience we have accumulated. We can easily become overbearing and it may at times appear that we are not being heard. Frustrating!

In our family journey, we have realized that children and the youth in our families learn from what they see us doing. It sounds like a cliché until it happens to you. The routines we establish each day, how we relate to each other as spouses and to those around us leaves a lasting impression more than instructions given to your children. With this understanding, we have grown even more conscious of how we act and the choices we make as a family. On matters of faith, we make sure to include daily prayer and intentions of gratitude to God and the needs of the community around us. Our greetings include a word of blessing.

This year’s theme of youth celebrations is “Mary arose and went with haste” (Lk. 1.39). Pope Francis’ accompanying message mentions that we can fall into unhealthy haste which can drive us to live superficially and to take everything lightly. Sometimes we can be dismissive of our children’s needs that may seem trivial or overlook a problem hoping it disappears over time. We learnt the hard way that such an attitude will only exacerbate challenges. Parents cannot rest their commitment or concern. We need to give children room to make mistakes, but they should be under our keen watch. They see the patience and personal investment with which we handle them and they are able to discern Christian values.

As they grow older, one of the joys is when they are able to recount how well you handled a situation they were facing and even seek your advice. We take such opportunity to bring them closer to Christ and are quick to explain to them that what we do is based on Christian values. We take the example of our Mother Mary to forget ourselves and place the needs of our children and youth first, with the assurance that they will follow by example and be drawn towards Christ. And just like her cousin Elizabeth, we invite the Mother of God to come help in our homes each time we recite the Rosary as a family. Be blessed!

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