During his general audience in St. Peter’s Square this week, Pope Francis stated that parents must be more involved with their children’s lives and must take an active role in their children’s education, writes Laura Leraci for the Catholic News Service.
In another in the series of talks about families, the Pope said the family’s”essential characteristic” is its “natural vocation to educate children so that they grow in responsibility for themselves and for others.”
“Experts” have told parents to withdraw their involvement in their children’s education, but, he says, this statement is “very grave.”
“‘Critical’ intellectuals of all types have silenced parents in a thousand ways to defend the younger generation from the damages — real or imagined — of education in the family,” he said. “The family has been accused, among other things, of authoritarianism, favoritism, conformism and affective repression that generates conflict.”
This, says the Pope, results in a divide between families and society and between families and schools, thus undermining mutual trust. To help his audience understand his meaning, he told a story about his own childhood. In fourth grade he said a bad word to his teacher, who immediately called his mother. When his mother arrived at school, she made him apologize to his teacher and then she disciplined him at home. Today, parents will sometimes reprimand a teacher who tries to discipline their child, he said.
He added that he was puzzled by the demands made by children and the fear that paralyzes parents who think they might make a mistake.
“Educating children is difficult for parents who see them only in the evening when they return home tired from work,” he said. “It is even more difficult for parents who are separated, who are weighed down by their circumstances.”
And to parents who are separated, the Pope said never to speak ill of the other parent. He explained that doing so was like making the children carry the weight of the separation or holding the children hostage against the other spouse. He quoted St. Paul in his letter to the Colossians when he said that children should obey their parents in all things and parents should not exasperate their children by “commanding in a bad way” so that children will not be discouraged.
This is “a wise rule,” said the Pope. He continued by reminding families to practice patience and to take pride in being their children’s primary educators.
The Vatican Radio reports that the Holy Father explained that Jesus himself was raised in a family, and our families can count on inpiration from him in the “difficult, but rewarding vocation of educating children.”
Francis has been focusing his Wednesday teachings on the family since the end of last fall, partly as a prelude to the World Day of Families in September and also because of October’s Synod of Bishops on the Family. Elise Harris, reporting for The Catholic News Agency, writes that Pope Francis stressed that educating and raising children in human values is the “backbone”of a healthy society., and that keeping the relationship between parents and children balanced and grounded in wisdom is imperative.