Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Society Makes Parenting Difficult

A columnist on the opinion page of the Catholic Times reflects on the news that about 12 percent of the  grammar,  middle, and high school students  need therapeutic help for their emotional health. 

The pressures to do well at school and the lack of conversation between parents and children is seen as the problem. This condition seems to be more prevalent with the middle school children than with high school students.

Children complain that parents get angry without much provocation and don't spend enough time with them, so they have no one to confide in and express their concerns, which makes their life more stressful than it should be. There is little to alleviate this pressure, and the impulses they have are often  expressed in strange ways. Last year in Korea, more than 200 children killed themselves, a sign that not all is well in the family.

The columnist recommends that parents deal with children the way priests deal with penitents in the confessional.  Even when he hears the confession of a murderer, he does not reproach the penitent; he listens  and gives the penance. In this way, when we leave the confessional we leave with a light heart, and that is the feeling the child should have-- Our Lord with the lost sheep has given us an example to follow.

The atmosphere in which children have to study and the constant competition makes it difficult for them  to have the proper disposition. Even after graduating from college, they do not have a bright future but the possibilities of  low-paying jobs and unemployment. Better than saying: "Just a little more patience. Do your best," it would be better to say: "It's been difficult, hasn't it? You have really had it rough."

When the child is faced with hopelessness, there will obviously be problems. To avoid this,  parents need to find out what is bothering the child by being attentive to changes in behavior, especially to unexplained mood swings, and always be ready to talk and offer help and encouragement.

The columnist has had opportunities to deal with children who have run away from home and is always surprised to learn that the parents had no inkling of what the child was thinking and feeling. When they find out, they take it very hard often shedding tears of remorse. The excuse of many parents is that they did not think the child was open to talking or did not think they needed to be concerned. If we are seriously interested in keeping children from running away, parents should be more aware of what their child is thinking, feeling and doing, and above all show them affection.

She concludes that it is natural for parents to have great expectations for their children but when this becomes all important the child will feel pressure. More important is to pray that they grow as  loving children of God.

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