by Rev. Fulgence Meyer, 1924, Plain Talks on Marriage
There are parents who in regard to their children are very delinquent in the necessary vigilance. They are like the idols mentioned in the Bible: “They have mouths and speak not; they have eyes and see not; they have ears and hear not; they have noses and smell not; they have hands and feel not; they have feet and walk not” (Ps. 113, 6, 6, 7).
Their children practically do as they please, without let or hindrance of their parents. They go where and with whom they like. They stay out as long as they choose. They read whatever they fancy.
When, then, they become involved in some scandal, say the son or daughter becomes an unwedded father or mother, the parents throw up their hands in horror. They grow terribly indignant, and exclaim that they cannot understand why such a disgrace should ever have befallen their family.
But often they are more guilty than the child. They were mature in years and had the experience of life; had they watched properly and prudently over their children, their going and coming, and had they used kindness and firmness upon them according to their needs, the lapse would likely have been avoided. After it has taken place it is too late to wax indignant.
When the girl is in dire distress, and faces ostracism and disdain on the part of the cold and cruel world, and that from many apparently respectable people who in their private lives may be immensely worse than she has been, it is not the time for her parents to increase her mental tortures by apathy and severity, and thus perhaps to drive her to a worse crime than her first offense, namely to abortion and, possibly, suicide.
But then it is the part of sensible and conscientious parents to take her back to their hearts in warm and generous sympathy, forgiveness and love, and to tender her in her delicate condition every protection and assistance.
The Black Sheep
Of course, if without any recourse to sinful practices the matter can be kept secret, it must be done for the girl’s and the family’s sake. If it cannot be concealed, the girl and the family should bear the consequent disgrace with humble patience and resignation to God’s providence, and in the spirit of compunction and atonement for sin.
There are many worse sins done in public and in private, which the world does not visit with its scorn and excommunication, but which are nevertheless grosser and more damnable in the sight of God.
Whilst the parents are often as much or more at fault than the child that goes wrong, it must yet be admitted that sometimes the best parents, in spite of all their good efforts in the interest of their children’s education, are afflicted with a wayward child that brings shame upon the family and overwhelms the hearts of the parents with bitterness.
This is one of the mysteries of the inscrutable providence of God, which it is given us devotedly to adore, but never to fathom in this life.
Still it is good for all parents to remember that eternal vigilance is the price they are asked to pay for the welfare and felicity of their children.
In addition to this it is consoling for good parents of bad children to reflect that, even as the winter wheat that is covered with snow seems hopelessly dead and gone, but soon comes to view again under the sun’s glow, so, too, a boy or a girl that has grown bad, and appears to be desperately lost to virtue and to God, is of a sudden touched by God’s grace and the warmth of the parents’ love, and rises and thrives again unto goodness and holiness of life.
“I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth.” — John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
Photo: Solemn Mass of Exposition for the Forty Hours’ Devotion on March 12, 2013 at the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in London.
Photo credit: Charles Cole
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kathy wiens said:
I can’t help but think of how the world has changed. Not for the good either. To think of many public high schools that have daycares for the children of the unmarried students. How we see pregnant unmarried girls and women walking around looking totally unashamed.
There is definitely a place for shame, but that has been done away with. Without shame of sin where will repentance, and contrition come from?
It’s not hard to see how the world has become as it is. This is why I spend many hours in prayer, the Holy Sacraments, and daily Mass. It’s my only hope.
Thank you for your contribution of a light in the darkness dear lady.
Excellent reading! Wow, it reflects the movie, Unplanned, that came out…. Very good reminder for me for parents, thank you.
I’m sorry, missed my quote tag. The quote ends after the first sentence.
On the young lady, she may be very much embarrassed and repentant to one degree or another. I am not sure one would have to say what she did, as the baby would show itself sooner or later. Now the young man or older, if he is not interested in the life he began, it would seem necessary for at least a discreet warning to protect future other girls who he could seduce without parents knowledge.
This is hard because if you are the parent of a child that grew up badly, what do you say? There is repentance too, if something happened during teenage years but there was repentance, would it need to keep being stated to everyone they met?
On other issues this is hard too, how far do you let your kids that you want to grow in the Faith and love Catholic tradition and practices, be with others that show or manifest behavior that is not fitting? When I was young and we were with others in a Catholic community and some kids were bratty, or talked back to parents, these were things that my Dad would bring up to say, “hey did you see that little boy or girl act that way to his parents, was that good behavior? Is that how we should treat them? Is that how Our Lord would want us to act?” this opened the door to discussion of other inappropriate behavior don’t trust a “friend” who lies, don’t go to secret places, stay in the open, etc. As kids we didn’t always have to know what someone had done, but it was enough that Daddy had said don’t go anywhere with that kid or adult. As we got older, we did talk about alot and discussed problems, but some things still slipped through the crack, as I explained before with friends from college who were nice humanists, but morally deficient.
This is a hard job to teach children, future adults, to be as Our Lord said, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves.” How far do you let innocent little ones be around ones(especially public school kids or kids whose parents allow them to have most of the world in the house)? My daughter was seven and went to a company picnic, she met a little girl about ten, and they spent a few hours together playing or talking, and we kept an eye on the situation especially my husband. Every time he would check on them, the older girl would suddenly stop talking, but our daughter would just keep talking about what they had said. Now that older girl said a couple times she hated school, not violently, but with a sarcastic snobby air. The Monday after this happened – up to this time our daughter hadn’t loved school but was learning at a steady pace – she started the day whinny horribly about having to do school. It was awful, very very frustrating! She got many talks and discipline and it took all of two weeks to get her to understand, you don’t act that way or treat your parents that way.
It is a very hard job. You don’t want to be so strident that there isn’t some freedom, and sometimes you see a kid act badly, its a one time thing, so you need to have leniency too. 😉
Yes, a very hard job indeed! An active participation in their training backed up by much prayer is what is needed. And even then, we will not be perfect. But it is not to discourage. If we are vigilant, in spite of the mistakes, we will look back knowing we did the best we can. And we will see much good fruit!