CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 September 2017

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A good time for parents to learn a bit

The return from summer vacation to school for the beginning of a new academic year can be tough for students and the excitement of the beginning of autumn, which symbolises new life, can take a while to grab them.
 
But students are coming back to an education system that has had a tough year, as since this time one year ago, around 60 students in Hong Kong schools have committed suicide.
 
When a student takes their own life, what lies beneath the tip of the iceberg must be examined. School life can trap young people in anxiety and some of them have taken the ultimate step towards denying the value of their lives.
 
But even summer vacation is not all play and the pressure of holiday homework and constant questioning from parents about what they do when they come home detracts from the relaxation. Many parents have no choice but to push their children into extracurricular activities or study classes just to get then away from the addiction to electronic gadgets.
 
Reluctance on the faces of children heading off to school can lead parents to wonder what is happening to young people today. Why are they so unwilling, why so listless and why so lacklustre.
 
Complex questions, but Pope John Paul II gave some helpful advice in The Christian Family in the Modern World. The pope notes, “In the family, which is a community of persons, special attention must be devoted to the children by developing a profound esteem for their personal dignity, and a great respect and generous concern for their rights” (26).
 
He used three words, dignity, esteem and respect, which refer to the attitude of parents towards their children rather than the other way round. He advises parents whose children have lost interest in life to reflect on the esteem they express for their child as an individual.
 
A common joke about parents in Hong Kong picks out two words, always and never, which are frequently thrown at children when they forget something for even only a second time. “You are always like this” is a common chastisement and on top of that, “You never work hard” rolls off the tongue easily when examination results are not up to speed.
 
While this may be an exaggeration, parents tend to believe their children are a series of problems rather than independent individuals.
 
Pope John Paul offered useful wisdom. He wrote, “… excessive prosperity and the consumer mentality, paradoxically joined to a certain anguish and uncertainty about the future, deprive married couples of the generosity and courage needed for raising up new human life: thus life is often perceived not as a blessing, but as a danger from which to defend oneself” (6).
 
A mentality that fears change inhibits life.
 
God grants parents the wonderful and adventurous journey of bearing and raising children. Parents should have the courage to allow life to grow and to take considered risks so as to assist in its development.
 
The beginning of the school year is a good time for parents to learn a bit about their children as individuals and how to reaffirm them by entering into joy, anger, sorrow and fulfillment with their children. SE