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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, , Professor Emeritus of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra.

Is it enough for the child to be a good student?

Sun, 27 Mar 2016 12:27:00 +0000 Published in Diari de Tarragona

It is very common for children to have, in fact, only one duty: to study. In some cases, following their parents' criteria:

-Son, the only thing we parents ask of you is that you bring us good grades in school. Everything else is taken care of by us. We don't want you to get distracted from studying by helping out at home."

In other cases against parental discretion:

Don't tell me that I'm comfortable or selfish because I'm only studying. Do you want me to stop being the first of the class?".

The decision to be taken will depend on the circumstances of each case (age, maturity, capacity and performance), but without forgetting a basic principle: the family and the home do not belong only to the parents, but also to the children, who must be open to the solidarity expected from all members of that community. 

The family is like a cart that has to be pulled by all its components. The parents have to ride in front of the cart, but the children cannot sit comfortably; they are expected to push from behind. 

The polarization of children in their studies makes it difficult for them to be good children and to prepare themselves for life. That is why they should not limit themselves to receiving. From an early age they should be put in situations of giving. When this is not done, it tends to create a mentality that is currently widespread: that all rights belong to the children, and all duties belong to the parents.

Dialogue between two young friends, according to Forges:

-Yesterday my mother was not at home and I was forced to fry an egg.

-How strong!

-Yes, thank goodness the emergency psychologist came right away.

 Good test of this status is the recent publication of a book by M. Válgoma with this degree scroll: "Parents without rights, children without duties".

The older children are the second responsible of the family. That is why it is unacceptable that some of them, after the age of majority, remain at home sine die at the expense of the parents when they could avoid it. For them, home is a permanent refuge. Parents are sometimes naive accomplices of this abuse. Some want to stop it but do not know how. A formula that usually gives result is that of the fable of "The condor and the branch".

"A king was given two small condors, because he enjoyed watching the flight of the birds. Soon one of them took flight, but the other remained seated on a branch, because he preferred to be assured of food. The king ordered to kill it, but a royal servant asked permission to make it fly. After he succeeded, the monarch asked him what he had done. The servant answered: "It was very easy, I cut off the branch".

Children should be aware of the natural relationship that unites them to their parents (filiation) and to their brothers and sisters (fraternity), and that this relationship demands to correspond to what they have received and to thank them with deeds, which are filial duties. The virtue of filial piety requires children to love, honor and respect their parents, which entails not leaving them alone in domestic chores. 

Parents are the progenitors, the co-authors with God of the life of their children. They give life to their children and sustain it with love. They seek above all the good of their children, their happiness. Children should reciprocate with a natural love that establishes the bond of blood; they are expected to esteem their parents and to be understanding, patient and grateful.

Parents prolong the life given to their children with both material and spiritual nourishment. Their educative responsibility is a dimension of their parenthood (being parents is not reduced to giving life, but includes properly guiding that life in the moral and spiritual aspect: to educate).

To support and educate their children, parents work and make sacrifices. The children (according to their age and capacity) should reciprocate by helping them in some aspect of the household work , avoiding overloading them, for example, keeping their room tidy and making their bed. In addition, they should take on chores (watering the plants, setting and clearing the table, taking out the garbage, etc.).

If you wait until the age of adolescence to ask them for this partnership, they will most likely not understand it. That is why you have to start in second childhood (from the age of six).

The exercise of filial piety does not end when the parents die, but when the children die; it involves keeping their memory alive, commemorating the anniversaries and never ceasing to pray for their souls.