Children’s upbringing is a difficult deed but the difficulty does not exempt parents from the responsibility. The future of society is placed in the hands of the children.
This gospel quote from Luke,“But wisdom is justified by all her children” (Lk 7:35), full of fervour and rich teachings, constitutes a special didactic codex, which must be well known to parents and teachers for the correct upbringing of children.
Our youth have enthusiasm and energy and many dreams. However, they do not have experience and they are therefore swept away by the outward glow of things, which very often is false. Hence, the danger exists that they will follow paths that do not lead to happiness or they might acquire habits that will lead them to disastrous passions and probably to destruction.
This is why parents and teachers must closely monitor the correct education of the youth. Of course, the child must have positive intellectual freedom. Children must feel that their elders take them into consideration, that they trust them, that they don’t stifle their personality, and they don’t deprive them of their freedom. But the children must also know clearly that nobody has absolute freedom (since true freedom is a teacher-disciple/spiritual father-son relationship) and therefore they cannot do whatever they want.
Besides the monitoring however, the children must be taught the truth so that they do not later become enslaved to lies, which in our times appear charming and tempting. The truth, pure and unadulterated is found in the law of God, which is the light, and the strength and the breath of our life. This law will lead the child to the path of virtue, love, honesty, sincerity and justice.
If, for whatever reason, teaching is not producing good results and the children begin to follow a dangerous path and erroneous course, then it is the duty of those who are in charge to pursue another means: control. It is not a show of love to forgive all the errors of children so that we do not upset them. The new so-called progressive notions that we hear, concerning the child living its life freely because the danger exists that we might inflict emotional scars on it with our control, are absolutely incorrect.
When we become ill, doctors do not hesitate to give us bitter drugs or to conduct dangerous operations, in order to restore our health to us. The medicine for the child’s behaviour and spiritual illness is control, observation, and the intense protest of the parent or the educator, even if it is accompanied by pain of the soul. But most importantly, always pray for your children so that Christ may enlighten them, so that you are not in their face too much.
There exist two basic prerequisites, however, on how control is to be carried out:
a) With tactfulness and love:
As a person the child will, at some stage, make mistakes. It is possible that their mistakes are of a serious nature. The parents or educators must intervene immediately but without threats, physical violence, anger and clashes. They must look into the soul of the child with love, showing that they too are in pain with the child. They must, under no circumstance, scold or take revenge or embarrass the child in front of others. If the child’s error is serious, the parents must cry with it. In this way, the child’s reaction is minimized and the hope of their improvement and therapy much greater.
b) But also with seriousness and prayer:
Many times, parents being carried away by extreme love for their children, are very forgiving and they allow serious issues to pass, the results of which will later be very grievous. An overabundance of love is not of any benefit. Control must exist. If the error is serious and repetitive, then control must occur with love but also with sternness and prayer. But the child will cry! Let him cry. These tears will later on become fragrances of virtue. The Apostle Paul was in pain to the extent of tears for the Churches he wrote to, but he did not keep quiet. He wrote the truth to them even if it was bitter.
Many people admit that they owe their correction and their virtuous character to the controls that their parents imposed on them, and of course their secret prayers. They may have been bitter then, but the measures taken were shown to be a saving grace, because they were corrected and thus they were saved.
It is said that on a street of ancient Athens, the cynical philosopher Diogenes met a small child with his teacher. The child took a stone and threw it to Diogenes, demonstrating in this way that it was ill-bred. Then the Philosopher, instead of reprimanding the child, gave a powerful slap to the child’s teacher.