An inalienable right-duty.
Father and mother are by nature the first and inalienable educators of their children.
These days, one sometimes gets the impression that quite a few of them ignore this right-duty or are not fully aware of what they are doing.
But this kind of resistance is not difficult to understand.
And the reason is this: the paternal-maternal mission of educating a child is not at all easy. It is full of contrasts that appear irreconcilable and even more acute in our times than at other moments in history.
The paternal-maternal mission of educating is not easy.
Throughout the children’s entire existence, parents have to:
♥ Welcome and love all of their children just as they are, even when they don’t live up to our expectations, clash with our aspirations and convictions, or even when we find them difficult to get along with.
♥ Learn how to understand but also demand, without giving in too easily.
♥ Respect the children’s freedom and make it grow – overcoming all undue desires for possession and overprotection – yet also guide and correct them.
♥ Help them in their homework and other tasks, but without doing it for them or sparing them the formative effort and the satisfaction that comes with doing it, and that strengthens their self-knowledge, their self-esteem, and their capacity to get through life without always depending on their elders!
♥ And above all – and perhaps this the hardest today: have a lot of personal contact with each of their children. Just as a diamond can only be polished by a diamond, persons – and thus, each one of our children – grow and improve only through personal dealings. That is, children need close, open, and prolonged relationships with the ones who love them.
As Lukas says, “There is nothing that can replace the parents’ time, the family’s life together, or the children’s insertion in the lives of their parents.”
So parents have to learn how to be parents all on their own, and right off the bat!
Just as a diamond is only polished with diamonds,
people only improve through personal dealings.
Without prior training?
In no other career does professional training begin only after the applicant has reached a high-level position and has very delicate or high-risk responsibilities in his hands. No brick-layer, mechanic, graphic artist, or designer begins this way; nor does any doctor, architect, engineer, computer programmer, lawyer, soldier, politician, or business administrator.
Why should the career of parents be any different?
Is it perhaps because their responsibility is not as great as that of a conventional professional? One would think it is quite the opposite. In the end, educating is about applying all of the means within our grasp so that a person develops properly and is able to be happy. And is there anything more transcendent than that?
Could it be, then, because it is something more than a science? Although one could be in agreement with this statement, it is also true that inspiration and intuition are not enough for any art. Here too, the artist needs to acquire instruction, training, and practice… as we see in the artists who seem at first to work effortlessly: the more natural the masterpiece appears – sometimes prepared and grounded through skills – the more work went into it.
It’s worthwhile to learn to be parents.
Be good parents in order to act as such
On the other hand, learning the job of parent and educator does not consist in having a collection of pre-made recipes or solutions that can be instantly applied to the problems at hand. Nor is it a bunch of infallible techniques.
Such recipes and techniques do not exist.
Instead, there are principles or foundations of education that shed light on different situations. Parents should know them very well and interiorize them, even making them the thought of their thought and the life of their life, so that they can use them –almost without having to think about it – to face daily life.
Nor is it an easy or a comfortable task. It requires a lot of attention to the children, a lot of reflection and dialogue between the spouses… and a lot of sacrifice to set aside one’s own well-being – even what is necessary and not just desired – for the good of the children.
In short, it is impossible to educate well – to do good as parents – without making a serious effort to be good parents.
It is impossible to do good as parents
without seriously striving to be good parents.
All of this translates, inevitably, to a constant striving for personal improvement. For only the one who has sufficiently developed his own personal excellence has the essential strength and greatness to set aside his own interests and put everything he is and has at the service of others – in this case, the children (and the spouse, obviously, since the children are nourished by the parents’ reciprocal love).
Only in this way, putting their good ahead of our own, will we be capable of helping our children grow.
As in all the other circumstances of human life, in educating as well, our own efficacy grows insofar as we move the center of gravity from ourselves toward others. We educate well insofar as our attention, care, and interest move away from our own selves and focus only on the person of the child, on his real possibilities and on his limitations, in such a way that we effectively promote and maximize the former, while diminishing as much as possible the negative effect of the latter.
To educate, we have to forget ourselves
and focus all our attention on the person of each child.
For example, a father or a mother will only effectively help their children if – insofar as it is necessary – they know how to let go of an outing that they were looking forward to, or a time in front of the TV to watch their favorite show, or any other hobby that they enjoy… and in its place, even if it is hard, they dedicate that time to playing or talking with their son or daughter who needs it at that moment.
Besides, with that time of playing together or with that conversation, they will discover that their son or daughter has particular abilities – drawing comes easily to them, they communicate easily with others, and so on – and the parents will then be able to foster those talents. Or, perhaps, they will perceive that their child struggles to speak in public, or gets distracted more than she should, and they will also be able to apply the means, with affection and without any harshness, to make those activities easier and more enjoyable for the child.
When we forget ourselves and grow as persons, we will know our children better and be better able to help them.
The you of the beloved must always prevail over the self:
here is the golden rule of all educational work, of all of life… and of true happiness!
Having made this point clear, and without much further ado, the subsequent articles will offer a memorandum, as accessible and clear as possible, of the main criteria and suggestions about the art of arts, as education has been called.
(to be continued)
4.Ten principles and one key to educate correctly:
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