By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
June 1, the world will observe Global Day of Parents. As the UN states: “The Global Day provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents in all parts of the world for their selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship…
“Emphasizing the critical role of parents in the rearing of children, the Global Day of Parents recognizes also that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children. For the full and harmonious development of their personality, children should grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.
“The central goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the world leaders in 2015, focus on ending poverty, promoting shared economic prosperity, social development and people’s well-being while protecting the environment. Families remain at the centre of social life ensuring the well-being of their members, educating and socializing children and youth and caring for young and old. In particular, family-oriented policies can contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 1 to 5 relating to doing away with poverty and hunger; ensuring healthy lives and promoting of well-being for all ages; ensuring educational opportunities throughout the lifespan and achieving gender equality.”
Being a parent is the most important job in the world. Parents want to give their children the best they can. Yet, many have no choice but to work long hours, often away from home, to support their families.
Parents need time to give their child the best start in life. And it is about time governments and businesses supported them by investing in family-friendly policies that help parents do just that.
Pope Francis has rightly said that parents are “co-creators with and of God’s love”. As their children, we have a moral imperative to do as our 4th Commandment states: “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you” (Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16). The role of parenting has a divine origin.
Read our Catechism: 2197–2257 about the duties of parents, children, society etc. Paragraph 2214 states: “The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood (Eph 3:14). This is the foundation of the honour owed to parents…It is required by God’s commandment (Ex 20:12).
Paragraph 2200 of our Catechism states: “Respecting this commandment provides, along with spiritual fruits, temporal fruits of peace and prosperity. Conversely, failure to observe it brings great harm to communities and to individuals.”
Pope Francis highlights some of this harm when he said: “The relationship between parents and children, which the prophets often refer to in order to speak of the relationship of covenant between God and his people, has become unnatural here. Parents’ educational goals aim at helping [their children] grow in freedom, at making them responsible, capable of performing good deeds for themselves and for others. Instead, because of sin, freedom becomes the pretence of autonomy, a claim of pride, and pride leads to opposition and the illusion of self-sufficiency.”
Paragraph 2218 teaches that adult children have a duty to honour their parents by providing “material and moral support in old age and in times of illness, loneliness, or distress.”
Sadly, we live in a time when selfishness, moral relativism, individualism, and greed stand as obstacles in the way of right relationships between many parents and their children.
I recall last year having to intervene in a dispute between a son and his mother. Shortly after his father died, the son started bullying his mother to transfer her house to him so that he could live there with his family. He promised to put her in a ‘good’ home. She refused. For months he terrorised her.
One day her neighbour called asking if I could assist. This was a man whose parents had raised him with love and care and had sacrificed to send him abroad to study. Hopefully, now that her daughter has returned from abroad to live with her, he will desist from seeking to oust his mother from her home.
And then there was the woman whose three stepsons set fire to her home to drive her out when her husband died. She won her case in court, but still lives in fear.
Parents, put God at the centre of your family life; nurture Christian values at home; maintain constant communication with your children; build right relationships within and outside your home; balance work and home life.
Love for others, and especially for the poor, is made concrete by promoting justice. (58)
Pope St John Paul II, Centesimus Annus (The Hundredth Year)
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee