World Parents’ Day

World Parents’ Day

1 June is World Parents’ Day, a time to remember the importance of parents as the first and fundamental educators of children.

World Parents’ Day was established by the United Nations in 2012 with the resolution A/RES/66/292 to celebrate parents from all over the world, of every race, culture and profession of faith, remembering their sacrifices and commitment to cultivating the relationship with their children and to raise them better.

It may seem trivial, almost obvious that parents are the first educators of their children, the future adults of tomorrow’s world.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Whoever educates a child, whoever assumes the responsibility of the adult he will become, has to sustain a very heavy and delicate commitment, for the child himself, but also for the whole community. We are talking about biological parents, but also adoptive parents.

Yet the profound crisis that has swept modern society in recent decades has shaken the importance of the parental figure. After all, on closer inspection, it is the very concept of the family that has entered into crisis, due to a whole series of tensions and centrifugal forces that have increasingly alienated individuals from the real family nucleus. It is the fault if you can say so, of the economic boom, which has led to greater well-being, to the detriment of greater commitment of women in the world of work. As a result, less time to take care of children and less time to do so in the first place.

To this, we add social and thought changes, which have evolved.

The greater emancipation of women, for example, has led to a renewed desire for individual personal affirmation, outside the family to which they belong. The patriarchal family model, with pre-established roles imposed without the possibility of appeal from a generational legacy, is decidedly close to modern women. If a woman wants to get out of a family or sentimental situation that does not satisfy her, or, worse, harms her, she can almost always do so now, or at least she often has the economic tools to be independent.

Then we have to consider the change in male and female roles, which on the one hand has allowed a freer and more spontaneous expression of one’s interiority but has generated a certain confusion in our society that has been based for centuries on traditional patterns. The sexual liberation of the 60s led to a greater interference of pleasure in the context of couple relationships, unravelling a secular condition for which only men were granted certain freedoms.

But children also began to play a different role in relationships. Now relationships within the family are no longer tied to a hierarchy that presupposed blind obedience and due respect. Parents must know how to gain the trust of their children and create a relationship with them made of mutual love and respect, no longer being able to rely solely on the bond of blood.

Marital instability, the lack of trust between spouses, the ease with which men and women throw in the towel, surrendering to the first difficulties and resorting to divorce, rather than fighting to save a marriage that became too uncomfortable too soon, lead to a progressive and inexorable impoverishment of the concept of family.

What about the kids? Nervous, apathetic, demotivated and unable to recognise and appreciate the value of material things, because too often they have been used to buffer the lack of time or ability on the part of parents to face commitments and problems. The existential anguish that once seized adolescents now comes early, too early, and as birds pushed out of the nest early, without a place to return to, without firm points of reference, new men and new women enter the world full of uncertainty and fragility.

But when a child is born, a parent is also born.

I like this phrase, which is very true. Beyond the economic and social changes of our time, although the world is a difficult place to live, devoured by consumerism and superficiality, or dominated by the most desperate need, among the less fortunate people, we like to think that being parents can still mean something fundamental and unique.

This is why World Parents’ Day is celebrated every year, to remember and honour these people who have the future of our world in their hands, and who work every day for all of us. Yes, they work, because being a parent is like a job, often more tiring than many others, and never paid, perhaps because it is really invaluable.

We are talking about someone who has the task and duty to transmit the right values to children, to help them build future models of life respectful of human ethics, nourished by justice, respect, gratitude and love.

This is no small task.

Parents are like the roots of the tree of life, which we talked about in a previous article. Here, in addition to representing since ancient times a symbol of vitality and renewal, the tree of life also expresses a deep, inseparable bond, and, in the context of human relationships, the concept of the family, where parents constitute the solid roots and children the luxuriant branches full of flowers and new fruits. Giving a jewel or an object that recalls the Tree of Life is therefore a gesture of good wishes for any family.

tree of life

Read more:

The meaning of the Tree of Life
All religions, since the origins of mankind, are somehow tied to trees. We already explored this subject…

Parents in the Bible

We have said that the role of family and parents has profoundly changed in recent decades. But how has the concept of parents and family evolved in the Bible? What has been God’s plan for Mother and Father from the beginning?

Wanting to dwell on the pairing “Bible parents”, that the concept of family has deep roots we understand it by going to read Genesis, where we find this phrase: “For this reason, a man will leave his mother and father and will join his wife, and the two will be one flesh” (Gen 2:24). This is what happens when a man and a woman get married: they leave their parents’ house to create a family of their own.

But let’s take a step back, to Adam and Eve, our forefathers.

story of adam and eve

Read more:

The story of Adam and Eve
Who does not know the story of Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman?…

From the beginning, God founded the development of humanity on the concept of the family. Whether we consider the priestly tradition, according to which man and woman were created at the same time (Gen 1:26-28), or whether we follow the Jahwist tradition, according to which woman was created by a rib of man (Gen 2:18-25), in both cases man and woman were created to complete each other, to be together, to be fruitful and to populate the earth. Something went wrong, as we know. Adam and Eve sinned, and to exonerate themselves before God they accused each other. Not a good start for the first family in history, especially if we think about what happened next to Abel and Cain, their first children! It is as if original sin had corrupted the idea of God, and it will be necessary to wait for Noah and his model family to witness a new possibility granted by the Almighty to man. Noah had a wife and three children, and for this reason, God judged him «just» and saved him from the flood “with the entire family” (Gen 7:1). Indeed, turning to Noah, he again encouraged him and his sons to fill the earth: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1; cf. 1.28).

The family plays a fundamental role in the whole Bible.
Consider Sarah and Abraham, who at first try to overcome the fruitlessness of their marriage by looking outside of it for a son, and then return to trust in God.

Take Jacob, from whose descendants the twelve tribes of Israel were born. An exemplary family? Not, considering what the brothers did to Joseph, Jacob’s beloved son, although even this misfortune is part of God’s plan.

abrahams lineage

Read more:

Abraham’s lineage until Jesus
The lineage of Abraham, or the genealogy of Jesus, has a fundamental importance in the history of Christianity…

What about King David? A great king, but certainly not an exemplary husband and father…

But in the Bible, there are also examples of families without blemish, dominated by love, fidelity and above all by devotion to their children and their upbringing. In the book of Tobiah, a model of marriage and family life is affirmed in the name of honesty and respect. This is how he and Sarah turn to God asking him to bless their union: “You made Adam and Eve his wife so that she might help and support him. From these two all mankind was born. You said: It is not good for man to be alone; let us help him like him. Now not for lust I take this relative of mine, but with rectitude of intention. Deign to have mercy on me and her and to bring us together in old age». And she said with him, «Amen, amen!»” (Tb 8:6-8)

Or again Tobiah’s exhortation to his son to honour him and his mother, as well as God: “He called his son and said to him: «If I die, give me a decent burial; honour your mother and do not abandon her all the days of her life; do what is pleasing to her and do not give her any cause for sadness. Remember, my son, that she saw many dangers for thee when thou was in her womb: and when she is dead, bury her by me in one grave. When he dies, give him a burial with me in the same tomb.” (Tb 4:3-4)

Coming to the New Testament, Jesus continued to carry forward the fundamental values of marriage and the family constituted by the indissoluble union of man and woman, as it was in God’s plan from the beginning. To this is added the elevation of marriage to a sacrament.

It is also evident the importance of the family example provided by the Holy Family, consisting of St. Joseph, Our Lady and the Child Jesus. A family that embodies a daily life made of respect, love and care for children, who must grow up loved and in harmony, facing together with parents’ joys and hardships, worries and expectations, and above all respect for the Law of God.

Over time, this fundamental family model will be united in the sacred texts with the concept of love between Christ and the Church, as the culmination and vindication of God’s plan to which every other human relationship is subjected: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord because this is right… And you, fathers, do not exasperate your children, but raise in the discipline and teachings of the Lord.”(Eph 6:1-4).

The Ten Commandments

Of course, in a discourse on the family and the relationship with parents in the Bible, we cannot ignore the 10 commandments and, in particular, the Fourth: honour your mother and father.

It is the Commandment that opens the second Tablet of the Law, that is, the first of the commandments that deal with charity towards others.

What God imposes on those who want to follow the Way is clear: those who have begotten us must be loved, first of all, because they are closer to us than anyone else. It is useless to love others, distant people, if we cannot love those who are so close to us.

Parents are not only to be loved, but they are also to be ‘honoured’, that is to say, elevated to an even greater depth of love and devotion. This is precisely because of all they have done for us since they gave us life. It is not enough to love them, we must respect them and obey them, not as we obey those we fear, but always out of love.

And of course, the children must take care of them when old or sick, they need it, closing a perfect circle of love willed by God and by the nature of life itself.

Parenting Phrases

Many sentences have been written about the family, about the need to love and respect parents. We have chosen some that we particularly like around the Internet, to celebrate World Parents’ Day in our way.

“Honour your mother and father, so that you may live long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you”. (Exodus 20:12)

The Apostle teaches: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and your mother”: this is the first commandment associated with a promise: “that you may be happy and enjoy a long life on earth” (Eph 6:1-3).

Anyone who attacks his father or his mother shall be surely put to death. (Exodus 21:15)

“Dear parents, help your children to discover the love of Jesus! This will make them strong and courageous”. (Pope Francis to mark World Parents’ Day 2019)

Hear, my son, the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the teaching of thy mother. (Proverbs 1:8-9)

“The most important thing parents can teach their children is how to move forward without them.” (F. A. Clark)