from Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., 1950’s

Confidence is necessary. Nothing is so sad as those chasms which divide parents and children, causing them to lead lives practically isolated from each other, with no contact of soul, no intimacy between them.

Difficult moments will come, temptations will arise, decisions will have to be made and action determined. If children have no confidence in their parents, to what dangers they will be exposed!

But this confidence is difficult to get. One important reason for the difficulty arises from the physical or moral temperament of the parents and of the children.

The parents must know how to vanquish their little ones’ fears, consent to their advances and not be afraid to give in.

Sometimes this confidence is blocked by other reasons which parents only too often overlook.

There are, for example, parents, who because they are not sufficiently supernatural, openly show more affection for one child than another or give fewer marks of affection to one child. The child who believes himself slighted may turn inward and become sullen and jealous.

Again there are parents who are unbalanced in their punishments or fail to be just.

There are others who are woefully ignorant of psychology and as a consequence seriously wound the self-respect of a child. He retaliates by closing up his heart.

A mother once laughed at a candid confidence her little boy revealed to her. He was hurt.

–“Papa,” he said, “I don’t love mamma anymore.”

–“What’s that! Is it possible? Why not?” –“Why?

—“Well, that’s just how it is. I don’t want to tell her anything anymore…ever anymore.”

The father tried in vain to reason with him but he remained obstinate.

–“No, that’s the end. I don’t love mamma anymore!”

It may have been mere caprice and doubtless it was; time would probably clear it up. Yet, who knows? Like all fragile things, the child’s heart is easily scarred.

And as with all things that have been marred it is not easy to restore the luster, to efface all the blemishes.

Parents who want their children’s confidence must know how to listen, to listen untiringly. They must be able to show interest in their triumphant little stories as well as in their grievances.

They may never ridicule them, never rebuff them through irritation or nervousness and never deceive them. They must know how to read their children without trying in any way to force an entry into their hearts or consciences; rather, they must be clever at inviting a confidence, dispelling a cloud, evoking a smile, creating a diversion in case of a mishap or tempest.

They must show understanding always and make the children feel that they can tell them everything. Not that they approve of everything, but they take everything into consideration; if then adjustments are called for they make them; if rewards are merited, they bestow them.

And when they must punish they do so with only the good of the child in mind so that, if the age of the child warrants it, they will explain the reason for their actions.

If in spite of all this, a child still persists in being withdrawn and uncommunicative, reserved as a hermit, there is nothing else to do but pray.

Parents should not grow discouraged. Of course they should try to discover whether this reticence is the result of temperament or conscience worries.

It might even be necessary for them to turn to someone else for help, someone who will be more successful because more competent.

In many cases this could be a priest. It is a great mistake for parents to want to be the only recipients of their children’s confidence.

The child, the adolescent must be able to confide in someone. If we are not the one, and someone else is, let us accept the fact humbly. Such renunciation is very meritorious especially for the mother.

There will be lives only if there are mothers, mothers who respond to their essential and divine vocation. “Give me, O my God, the grace through respect for You and for Your work, always to have a devotion to and a respect for life.. Grant me also the grace to be in Your Hands a not too unworthy instrument of Your creative power. Let me be ‘up-to-date’ whenever it is a question of enrolling a new name in the Book of Life.” – Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., 1950’s (afflink)

book suggestions

William Maher has given us a well-written biography of Fr. Emil Kapaun. Chaplain Kapaun was born in Kansas, grew up on a farm, and became a diocesan priest. He served as a chaplain in WWII and in Korea.

His heroic service to all the men he served with, not just Catholics, will never be forgotten….


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