I have a very dear friend who is the mother of eight children. She is a talented, dedicated parent who is faith-filled, realistic and wise. All of her children are now young adults and she knows the limits of a parent’s reach but she has told me that she never stops teaching, modeling or sharing her values and thoughts about life with them.
One time she made a very wise statement about child-rearing when she said with a smile: “When a baby is born, it is a parent’s job to civilize her/him!” I chuckled and yet the more I thought about it, I realized that I agreed with her. From keeping them out of danger, to helping them understand the culture, we as parents have the opportunity to participate in the “civilization” of our children and thus the shaping of our world.
Our readings today remind us of the importance of using the lens of our faith by following God’s commandments which in turn, define our values and principles. If we are open to God’s movement in our lives, we embrace these values and they become the foundation of our life which we strive to pass on to the next generation.
Whether we have children of our own or have “parented” in other ways as trusted family members, teachers, or mentors, we know that these roles are significant in the lives of children, youth and young adults. Teaching and/or modeling the values of faith over the clamor and enticement of our culture is a tremendous challenge and often we are uncertain if the lessons can be heard.
A couple of years ago, our family traveled to Chicago to visit relatives. Our newly-married son and daughter-in-law were with us. One day during our visit, several of us went downtown to do some sightseeing. As we were walking, I noticed that our son and daughter-in-law were no longer with us. I assumed that they had turned into one of the shops and we continued our stroll.
A few minutes later, they caught up with us and I asked them where they had gone. My son said, “There was a homeless man lying on the sidewalk. I just couldn’t walk by. He told us that he was hungry so I gave him a sandwich and some money.” My daughter-in-law then added with a smile, “He does things like that all of the time. You should be proud of your son.” I felt my heart surge with joy. At that moment, my husband and I were given the opportunity to see how our son had transformed into an adult; living his life and making choices built upon care for others.
Last summer, our son and daughter-in-law were blessed with their first child. Their precious baby is another gift from God, gracing our family. I believe that these young parents will heed what is written in Deuteronomy today and spoken by Moses: “…take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.”
Someday someone will say to them, “You should be proud of your son.” The shaping of our world continues as we “civilize” each new generation and God walks with us every step of the way.
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