Teach your children well

Madona_of_mercyThe first installment in our series asking parents to reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy–this week “Instructing the Ignorant.”

LaTonya and Jerrell, married 19 years, with three children between 5 and 15, bring opposite personalities to parenting. LaTonya is a take-charge person, with strong opinions of how children should behave, do homework, and use their free time. Jerrell, a researcher, describes himself as a “laid-back scientist” not only in his career, but in parenting as well. Slow to direct the kids, he prefers to watch them learn things on their own. Both see “instructing the ignorant” as a work of mercy that applies both in their own family and in the greater world.

“While we don’t really use the word ‘ignorant,’ I think the spirit of what we’re trying to do is instruct our kids in the right way to live,” says Jerrell. “My wife and I have really different styles, but our goal is the same—to raise kids to be adults whose morality and decisions are guided by their faith.”

LaTonya agrees. “My approach is to head off problems with the kids; my husband’s is to discuss the consequences afterward,” she says. “I think the main thing is that we both realize that children can learn something from every situation, and it’s our job to make sure that learning takes place and that kids aren’t going through their lives without thought.”

While few parents consciously consider this work of mercy as they go through day-to-day life, parents, more than most people, intuitively understand its power. “Instruction helps people to see things from a different point of view and invites them to conversion and transformation,” writes Patricia M. Vinje in The Encyclopedia of Catholicism (HarperCollins). For parents, transformation is the goal of parenting—we spend 18 years transforming the helpless baby we receive into a young adult able to meet life on his or her own. Good instruction leads to beautiful transformation.  …continued next week

By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2014 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for   four years running. Here’s a sample issue.

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Image: Ravensburg Madonna of Mercy (1480s), Staatliche Museen, Berlin




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