Father Tom: Lessons parents can learn from third-graders

religion | Apr 24, 2015 | By Martin Barillas

In one of his regular video chats at Spero News, Father Tom Bartolomeo spoke about some the questions that parents most frequently asked about their adult children. Father Tom described a scenario, for instance, in which an adult son in his late 20s is still living with his parents, and sulkily stays in his room. The parents wonder what they should do about him since they now want to sell their home and move to a warmer clime out of state.

Father Tom, who has founded FamilyAndChild - something he calls an "association of family associations" - that is intended to aid in healing family and community relationships, described another situation in which a mother and daughter disagree over the modesty or immodesty of the daughter's dress. Both of the preceding situations, said the priest, appear to be irresolvable.

In response, Father Tom said that the problem to be confronted is that the relationships were much too late in developing. "Of all living creatures, there is none so slow in developing, so vulnerable, as a human being." Babies are blank slates, he said, on which are written experiences that will largely determine their adult futures. He spoke about a recent news story in which an elementary school teacher asked each of her third-grade students to write a note to describe themselves. For example, one child wrote: "I wish my teacher knew that my reading log is not signed because my mother is not around a lot," another wrote "I wish my teacher knew I have no one to play with," while another said he had no pencils at home for completing his homework. 

Father Tom asked if the children had not asked their parents about the issues raised in the letters, why didn't they? Rather than rushing to judgement, Father Tom pointed to the example set by Jesus Christ in the Gospels, who used parables to suggest the truth to his listeners rather than telling them exactly what to do to repair damaged relationships. Finally, Father Tom said to address the issues raised above by parents - or similar issues - that there must be a discussion among parents and children about "getting through this life in a sincere holy way and, hopefully, ending your life in a better world to come."

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.

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