Let them stumble and stand on their own but support them. Give them freedom to decide but guide them. Let them think for themselves but always be there to answer questions. Let them try and experience success. And more so, to experience failures. For these things is what will build their character. And collectively as a generation they will build the future of our society.
You see, for the longest time, since mid-childhood, I had hated my father. By the time I had began to slowly understand God the Father’s unconditional love for me as I grew in love for Him, accepting his will in my family situation, I had begun to forgive my earthly father unconditionally as well. By the time I learned about the pathology of alcoholism and its effects on co-dependents (in AA and Al-Anon parlance, those persons who are in the sphere of the alcoholic: professional, social or familial), I had begun to heal. The emotional scars are rather deep though, as even if I can carry out a conversation with him, I still have occasional bursts of anger in arguments, these days filled with loathing and self-pity, and the obvious lack of outward affection towards him.
While many mothers may not be raising their children with their husbands or partners or their kids’ birth fathers (because of their circumstances and/or choices), for many of us, this is still the set-up we have: mom AND dad work together to bring up the kids and make sure they become productive citizens.
A good father provides a climate in the home that is conducive for spiritual life. No child is allowed to use the computer for pornography. Quarrels between siblings are settled. And the good father leads the family prayers, such as in praying the rosary or going to the church. And because his children does not only live inside the home, but goes out to play in the neighborhood and study in school, a good father must see to it that there are no occasions of sin in the neighborhood, in school, and in society in general. Thus, a good father participates in social and political organizations to bring about effective changes in society that would help him raise a Catholic family.
It is important for a woman to be able to relate with God the Father in her own spiritual life as well. That is the essence of divine filiation that springs from knowing you are loved for your own sake as a daughter of God, and at the same time you develop a personal relationship in prayer, gaining knowledge from your conversations with one who is All-Knowing.
A mother and a father are the child’s first glimpse of God. While the mother models the feminine side of God, the father models God the Father, or the masculine side of God. This is a tough call, but both parents are expected to be examples of God’s brand of love — committed, forgiving, and unconditional — even though they know they will always fall short.
Today’s world paints a picture of extremes, of fatherless homes or of abuse, of men who abdicate responsibility, of men who have little to no understanding of what responsibility is, of men who unleash aggression on their wives and children. On the other extreme we have Peter Pans, men who have never grown up and are perpetually tied to their wives’ apron strings, sometimes even their mothers’: a scary tug-o-war scenario played out in everyday life, with no winner in sight — not husband, wife, nor children. It is not a pretty picture. A non-dysfunctional family today seems almost unreachable, a fantasy for many.