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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, Professor of the School of Education and Psychology

Do the children know they have family duties?

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 09:20:00 +0000 Published in The Confidential

In postmodern society, there has been a proliferation of families in which children know all their rights and demand them, but are unaware that they also have family duties. The latter usually happens because parents declare them "liberated" from household chores so that they have more time to study: "You get to be the first in the class, we will take care of everything else". It also happens for other possible reasons: parents are not clear about what can be asked of their children, or they lack arguments to justify it, or they do not dare to demand it. This parental and filial omission will later fuel generational conflict in the family.

The children must be consistent with the fact that they live in a community, not in a free hotel or a shelter. Each child is not a single verse, but part of the same poem; he or she must feel linked to the other members of the community. In the family community the bonding is even greater than in another subject of communities (for example a community of neighbors). The family is a total community. It is a community of interpersonal life, made up of people united by bonds of love who grow together.

All family members educate and are educated; children learn from their parents and parents learn from their children. Living in a family community is demanding; there is no room for a comfortable, passive, individualistic and relaxed attitude. Each member is expected to make an effort to live with people who are different (in age, sex, subject character, tastes, etc.) and to take care of the needs of others. This subject of attitudes and behaviors keep the children in a habitual state of healthy tension that financial aid them in their maturation staff.

These possibilities of the family community can be taken advantage of and can be lost. The latter happens when parents reduce the home to a place of material provisioning or when they give their children everything done, seeing them only as needy and needy beings, and not as beings capable of contributing something to others. Some parents "hide" the economic problems of the family from their children so that they do not worry or suffer. To do so at an early age is prudence; to do so later is naivety.

Parents should make their children aware that the house is a joint task that is built together; it is like a cart driven from the front by them, but with the children pushing from the back. It is not admissible that the children travel comfortably seated in the cart, something quite frequent nowadays. It must be made clear to them that the family does not belong only to the parents; it also belongs to the children.

Children receive much from their family, especially from their parents; for this reason they should reciprocate with filial duties appropriate to their age. But in order to do so, it is necessary to put them on status to give and not only to receive.

Children are debtors of life before God and before their parents; therefore, they are expected to reciprocate with a natural love that establishes the bond of blood. It takes the form of being understanding, respectful and patient with them. It also means sparing their parents unpleasantness, dedicating time to them without haste and providing them with happy moments.

Children are indebted to their parents for the care they have received, both in body and spirit. It is up to them, therefore, to be docile and to take care of them in old age. All this contributes to the exercise of filial piety, a virtue derived from justice, which inclines children to treat their parents with respect, to pray for them and to give them the recognition due to them. This virtue is inculcated in our own nature and facilitates a better knowledge of our roots and our destiny.

Filial piety often increases as children learn the merit of founding a family and being a good parent against the current anti-family ideologies. Charles Péguy's testimony is very illustrative, both for the children and for the father and mother:

"There is only one adventurer in the modern world: the family man. The most desperate adventurers are nothing compared to him. Everything in the modern world is arrayed against that madman, that daring visionary, that audacious male who even dares, in his incredible daring, to have a wife and family. (...) The others suffer for themselves. He alone suffers through others (...) Those who have not lost a son do not know what pain is". (Clio I Cahiers, in Temporal and eternal, New York, 1958).