Our children are constantly faced with moral dilemmas. As soon as they step out of the house, they are exposed to a world that provide easy remedies, material lures, false realities and information, and pathways that lead to a life away from the grace of God. Unknowingly, in the confines of our homes, we may have also welcomed outside influences through various forms of media.
Children are quick to learn through observation and are quite impressionable. Soon, posters are up on their walls of people they deem admirable. Soon, we hear names spoken during the dinner table of people who, in some way, have inspired them. Positive role models are certainly needed but this title is loosely given and the meaning vaguely defined.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends discussing role models with our children by identifying the qualities they admire in their role models, proving examples of people in the community that are a good influence to others and sharing our own role models and why we look up to them. Parents are encouraged to be good role models and should intervene when negative role models influence their children. It is important to emphasize that role models who embrace inappropriate behavior, violence, racism, sexism, and drug and alcohol abuse are not acceptable
As parents, we are blessed with the opportunity of being their first role models. When we became parents, we accepted the responsibility of raising our children in the best possible way and this includes modeling positive character traits that help them grow into good people. Goodness cannot be separated from God as all goodness comes from him. Faith plays an important part in parenting. From our faith, we can expand our children’s role models from where love begins, the Blessed Trinity and then witness how this love transforms people, the Blessed Mary and the communion of saints.
Our children can see our faith transform us. It is not that we aim for perfection as there is no one on earth, aside from the Blessed Mother, that can claim to have lived a perfect existence, a life without the stain of sin. However, having our children see how we fail and get back up again is, in itself, a valuable life lesson. They see how one can redeem himself and rise up stronger and better. In a spiritual point of view, teaching them the importance of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is a wonderful way to show humility, taking responsibility for one’s actions, and then making amends. The greater lesson, I think, comes from them realizing how God is waiting, ever-willing to forgive them and unconditionally loves them.
Since perfection isn’t the goal, let us use the gift of parenthood to guide our actions and to live our lives closer in the ways of God. In turn, our children see goodness in their interactions with us and emulate this goodness in their relationship with others. While our children seek role models, let us find parent models for ourselves as well. St. Joseph and and the Blessed Mother are always there to guide us.
Our children are living in a world that challenges goodness and holiness in all fronts and we, as adults, encounter the same experiences today only in different forms. Let us pray for our families, that we be given the strength to rise above these challenges with love. Let us pray for our children, that they may grow in the light of God and for ourselves, that we may keep them in God’s light by creating a faith-filled home.
A Prayer for the Family Composed by St. Mother Teresa
you have given us the model of life
in the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Help us, O Loving Father,
to make our family another Nazareth
where love, peace and joy reign.
May it be deeply contemplative,
revived with joy.
Help us to stay together in joy
and sorrow in family prayer.
Teach us to see Jesus in the members of our families,
especially in their distressing disguise.
May the eucharistic heart of Jesus
make our hearts humble like his
and help us to carry out our family duties
in a holy way.
May we love one another
as God loves each one of us,
more and more each day,
and forgive each other’s faults
as you forgive our sins.
Help us, O Loving Father,
to take whatever you give
and give whatever you take with a big smile.
Immaculate Heart of Mary,
cause of our joy, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels,
be always with us,
guide and protect us.