There’s no denying about it. No matter how much we try, we can never thank our parents enough. Through them and through their love, we come into being. They are actually the ones used by God to put us into existence. Thus, they are our first link to God. Seeing them is like seeing God right behind them.
They are the first ones to have authority over us in this world. And they exercise that authority with such tenderness and affection that we do not even realize that authority is exercised over us. We are not even aware that we are obeying and following them, especially when we are still very small.
Parents should then realize that their authority is no laughing matter at all. Their authority over us is always a participation in the authority of God as St. Paul once said. (cfr. Rom 13, 1) They have to be aware that they have to exercise their authority the way God would exercise it over us.
And in our case, as their children, since our parents gave birth to us and put us to life, their authority over us has a wider and deeper coverage than that of the other authorities we have in life.
Parents have to realize that their authority over us does not spring simply because of their biological relation to us. That’s because from that biological basis arise many other and more important aspects of their authority. It’s not limited to the physical, material, emotional. It goes to the spiritual and supernatural aspects of our life.
Thus, our parents as our first authority here on earth are also our first teachers. And they teach us not only how to smile, speak, walk, eat properly, especially when we are still small, but also how to think, reason out, react and behave in the different situations in life as we grow up.
But there is one aspect of their being teacher to us that they should be ready to carry out. And that is to teach us how to develop our spiritual life, how to be not only truly human but also truly Christian, a firm believer and lover of God and of everyone else.
More than the schools and the churches, more than the teachers and priests and nuns, who only play a subsidiary and supporting role in the education and formation of children, it is the parents who should help their children acquire the spiritual and supernatural life proper to all of us.
For this reason, they have to be ready to teach their children about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church and the sacraments, the commandments and morality, and especially about prayer. They have to see to it that their children are truly learning these things properly.
And more than teaching by words, they have to teach by their deeds and example. The guidance and accompaniment they give to their children should not just be physical and material, not even simply emotional and intellectual, though these are already a tall order. They have to provide the appropriate moral and spiritual guidance and accompaniment to their children.
For sure, parents need to be given due formation for this delicate task of theirs. So, they should be the first ones to realize that they have to look for that formation. They should not take this matter for granted.
On the part of the schools, churches, LGUs, NGOs, etc., they should also contribute in this concern by providing the appropriate programs for this purpose. There should be an active campaign to involve as many parents as possible in these programs.
At the moment, there is truly a great need for ongoing formation programs for parents, given the galloping developments we have around. We are now before an increasingly complicated challenge in the world insofar as the formation of parents and children are concerned.
Fr. Roy Cimagala is the Chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise, Talamban, Cebu City (email@example.com)./WDJ