Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One of "Those Parents"

One of “Those Parents”

          “If that was my child, he’d never act like that!”  “I would never allow my daughter to behave that way!”  How many times have we been out in public, watched a five-year-old ball of terror, and thought these things?  I’m sure I have, more than once.  Of course, that was all before I became a parent myself.
          Now I am a parent, and my kids are sometimes “those kids.”  I mean, they can really be “those kids.”  Trust me.  The good news is that it has made it much easier for me to resist rashly judging other parents desperately struggling to maintain control (or is it sanity?).  The bad news is that now there is a new temptation.
          Now the temptation is not to look like “that parent.”  I know what people must be thinking when my son is sitting outside a supermarket on a curb throwing a tantrum, or running down the aisle of the library while I’m trying to check out his books.
          Believe it or not, I’m quite a strict parent.  And the fact is, I have children with some special needs.  It’s been a learning process, but with a lot of prayer, and some occasional patience, we have turned many corners.  But there are times you wouldn’t know it to see us.
          This new temptation is called human respect.  It’s that weakness that makes us concerned about how we appear in the eyes of others, rather than how we truly are, in the Eyes of God.  It’s that temptation to lose patience in public, so I can prove to all those anonymous eyes that I don’t tolerate such behavior either.
          Sometimes it takes the opposite effect, and tempts me to go too easy, or look the other way, so I don’t look like an ogre.  I’ll admit, there have been times when I have responded to one of my children based more on how I would appear to others than what my children really needed.
          I wonder, though, when I die, and stand before God, will He take into consideration the opinions of those random strangers who were exposed to my family for five minutes at Target?  Or will He be more interested in whether I was willing to bear the stares and whisperings of the crowd for the sake of my children?  Is it my duty to look virtuous according to the world’s standards, or to train my children to be virtuous according to God’s standards?
          God gave our children, His children, to us.  This is no task to take lightly.  If we are to be worthy of it, we have to set aside our temptations to human respect.  Jesus wasn’t concerned with what other people thought when He hung dying on the Cross for our sake.  We must, with God’s Grace, take up our own crosses for the sake of our own children.