By Msgr. Jonas Achacoso, JCD
Pope Francis outlined some interesting points about the essential role of parents towards better education of their children.
In his pastoral exhortation “The Joy of Love” — or Amoris Laetitia — which he encourages us to review and reflect on in its fifth anniversary and on the occasion of the Year of the Family under the patronage of St. Joseph, the Roman Pontiff offers important advice on how parents should carry out such tremendous responsibility.
Upon its release, this papal document was shrouded with controversy on some points in Chapter 8, relegating the important message in the other chapters to the sides.
Let us revisit Chapter 7 of the said exhortation for some valuable guidance to parents when they are also to begin a new school year.
In the introduction of this chapter, the Pope uses these four adverbs: “consciously, appropriately, reasonably and enthusiastically.”
I actually rearrange the order of these adverbs to form an acronym to read: C-A-R-E.
How should parents carry out their role towards better education?
Consciously. Pope Francis advocates for necessary vigilance and cautions that neglect is never beneficial. Care must be taken to prepare their children to confront all the risks that life would bring. Vigilance, however, should not be to the point of obsession.
Obsessiveness on having full control is not helpful and therefore should be avoided.
“What is most important is the ability to lovingly help them grow in freedom, maturity, overall discipline and real autonomy. … The real question, then, is not where our children are physically, or whom they are with at any given time, but rather where they are existentially, where they stand in terms of their convictions, goals, desires and dreams.”
Appropriately. Proper education is not only filling up the minds with knowledge but also shaping up the will, fostering good habits and natural inclination to goodness.
“A good ethical education includes showing a person that it is in his own interest to do what is right … Good habits need to be developed.”
Reasonably. As education is primarily the responsibility of the parents, they should not rely solely on the school for the fulfilment of this task. Parents’ obligations can never be delegated completely.
“This means that parents, as educators, are responsible, by their affection and example, for instilling in their children trust and loving respect. When children no longer feel that, for all their faults, they are important to their parents, or that their parents are sincerely concerned about them, this causes deep hurt and many difficulties along their path to maturity. This physical or emotional absence creates greater hurt than any scolding which a child may receive for doing something wrong.”
Enthusiastically. Enthusiasm is a vital sign we give to highlight the importance and value of things.
Parents should be enthusiastic in “encouraging the responsible use of the freedom to face issues with good sense and intelligence. It involves forming persons who readily understand that their own lives, and the life of the community, are in their hands and that freedom is itself a great gift.”
At the beginning of the school year, the excitement for parents is not anymore in having a new set of school supplies.
Their concern is something else and at a different level.
The Pope’s advice is a sure guide and an assurance of the church’s willingness to help parents to carry out their primary task.
Msgr. Achacoso is the author of ‘Due Process in Church Administration’ (2018), recipient of Arcangelo Ranaudo Award (Vatican City), and Administrator of Corpus Christi Church in Woodside