A Catholic Monthly Magazine

“Will you walk a little faster…?”

An extract from an article by Peter and Mary Bret

There was a time when parents were supreme beings-at least in the eyes of their children. Today, it seems many parents have reneged-they give their children their head, whilst they themselves wait around to pick up the pieces.

The pendulum seems to have taken an extreme swing from the restrictions and inhibitions of a generation past to almost total permissiveness. ... It will be interesting to see whether those young people who have been brought up the ‘play way’, who have seized every experience life has to offer, will be content to let their children do likewise.

It is understandable, that many parents-struggling to deal with the legion major and minor crises of child rearing - should feel a longing for the slower pace and simple norms of their own childhood. Even allowing for the most rosy hue suffusing a time past, it is surely true that life accelerates with each generation, that we live in a world of expanding expectations. If one word were needed to describe ... our times it could well be MORE - more knowledge, education, opportunity, money and ‘things’ - more, food, housing, jobs, culture; and as well, more generosity, concern, equality, justice and peace.

One theologian refers to the process as "rapidation" -a piece of jargon that has a suitably urgent ring. Nowhere is paternal yearning for a golden yesterday more real than in the area of religious and moral training, and again allowing for over simplification of the past, it's not too long ago when norms of conduct were as cut and dried as a bus time table and parents could be sure that the Church had the correct answer to every problem of human behaviour. Today nothing is quite so certain. We have a greater knowledge of human behaviour and maturation; a complex and sophisticated society generates equally complex and sophisticated problems for parents. Rearing based on "it was good enough for father" and the pink catechism will certainly not suffice...

We haven’t all the answers, any more than you have. But we do believe that, despite the changes, the conflicts and the turmoil of our world, despite the strife, the tension and the hate, basically our children still want the security which faith, love, a confident hope and a warm loyalty ensure. It seems to us we must strive to make a happy home, a place in which they can always be comforted and strengthened. Robert Frost calls it, “Something you somehow haven’t to deserve.” Our children might have knowledge and information in abundance, but from us they must learn attitudes and values. With us they must grow in love.    

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