Elizabeth Scalia has written an insightful article at First Things, http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/10/when-no-one-wants-to-raise-the-parents.

She makes the point that we must, as adults with offspring, act as grownups and live for our children. Of course, we are all ill-equipped for this when we begin. Nearly all of us manage if we try. Some become quite good at it.

“A parent becomes [a parent] within the act of learning to be a family-unit, amid the constantly changing dynamics of individuals advancing through life-stages together. One could argue that as parents raise the children, the children, quite paradoxically, raise the parents. When parents resist being raised, families break down and collapse.”

We learn while we do, and one of the most important things we must know from the very beginning is that we are each individuals. We each are that special one. From the beginning, we are in a relationship with our child. Mothers have a relationship distinct from fathers. Mother knows the child from conception. Mother is affected by the child directly from the beginning and much more than Father.

For both, though, the fact is that parenting is a relationship more than anything else. A family is the members of the family acting independently and cooperatively, each unique and truly accountable only to God.

Families work best when each member faithfully works to fulfill his role in loving respect, being mindful of personal responsibility.

Doesn’t all of society work the same?

Ms. Scalia discusses the situation in Japan a little, pointing out that a lack of religious sanction for marriage and family is a factor in young people choosing to not marry (and not have children). There is, of course, a lot more to it. A researcher mentions earthquakes. I rather doubt that is a significant factor.

She points out:

“Unmentioned within the piece is any notion that marriage and family—far from being simply one more life choice among many—is a true vocation, one capable of bringing depths of meaning and fulfillment that go beyond the satisfactions of work and friends.”

Amen.

I’m a daddy first. I’m not sure anything else would matter without family.

From a book by Tim and Sue Muldoon Six Sacred Rules for Families: A Spirituality for the Home, she quotes, “Family life is a crucible of letting go of our egos,” they write. “It is critical that parents model for children what it means to live compassionately, to practice obvious acts that show children how to choose to participate in building a Kingdom larger than oneself.”

Ms. Scalia goes on to make this important point:

“What happens to a society in which no one wishes to be a parent, to abandon ego in order to model compassion and sacrifice in a way that forms healthy adults and, by extension, healthy nations? If we put adulthood into suspense and choose to live like perpetual college students—focused on the self to a profoundly exclusionary degree—will the political class become the de facto adults in our society? If so, what values will they model?”

The members of our political class, of most stripes, are becoming our societal parents. Considering that power corrupts, they are becoming tyrannical parents, and he that has eyes can see. I know firsthand that it is love that keeps me from playing tyrant over my family. It is only a genuine interest in the well-being of each individual that restrains me. I force myself to act with respect and consideration, allowing choice and freedom in nearly all circumstances because I know it is right, because I know it is the only thing that can work in the end. Only God is judge, and He treats us that way. How can I do otherwise without sinning?

Perhaps I can convey a mental picture: Our current President as Mommie Dearest.

Ms. Scalia closes with this statement, “It takes a true parent—a mature, selfless one—to know that modeling humane behavior to a child both edifies and teaches, while demanding it of them creates resistance.” And she goes on to warn that we might be seeing signs in our society that something is terribly wrong.

“To each his own,” is a powerful statement. We use it tritely to mean almost anything, but it states a truth. We each actually own certain things, certain unalienable Rights, and certain properties, and certain things that must be considered property, and each must be appropriately protected. We parents must remember this in our daily lives, on the microscale. As a society, we must remember in the whole, on the macroscale. We each must stand up and be the adults we are, and we must accept the reality of its consequences.

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