Sunday, March 30, 2014

They Must Know They Are Loved: St. Don Bosco

A Salesian priest writes about an acquaintance who came to him for advice. A boy whose parents were working overseas was finding it difficult to adapt to the life in a new culture, and was sent to live with his grandmother back in Korea. He promised he would study hard to pass the qualification exams for college. But despite the promise, he showed no interest in studying, and spent most of his time with computer games and rarely went outside, living a very spiritless kind of life.

The grandmother, though disappointed by her grandson's lack of resolve in his studies, loved him dearly and wanted to respect his decision to choose the life he wanted to live. Deciding to find ways to help him, she went to a counseling center specializing in helping young people, and discussed the problem with them. When she tried to persuade him to give the counseling center a try, he told her that his situation was not one that needed counseling. 

In order to understand her grandson better, she scheduled regular meetings with the counselor. She had no intention to cure the grandson from the addiction, for at the time she did not realize he had an addiction problem.  What was important to her was to accept the grandson as he was. It wasn't easy, she said, but she never broke the emotional bond that tied her to her grandson. And when he finally began to feel her love for him, he opened up and revealed the difficulties he was having in his life. She then was able to speak to him about what was troubling her about living with him. Because of this ongoing dialogue and sharing their feelings about each other, he started to be more concerned with her feelings and with finding ways to please her.
The next time the priest met the grandmother she was filled with joy. The grandson had decided to begin  counseling for his addiction. Now serious about getting rid of the addiction, he was hoping for the best. How many more problems they will have the priest doesn't know. But both grandmother and grandson were hopeful for a successful resolution of the addiction. 

It took the grandmother some time to come to the point where she could accept the grandson's situation. This waiting, says the priest, was the sign of her love and respect for the grandson. 

Love, however, is not sufficient, according to St. Don Bosco. Love has to be felt when dealing with children. Almost all parents love their children but not all children feel the love of the parents. Love is often not shown in a way a child can understand, but given in a way the parents feel it should be given, in a way that pleases them. This love is a possessive love, the priest points out, the kind of love that controls and restricts. This kind of love has hidden within it the pressure that the child is mine and he or she is to like what I like.

Once a child perceives true love, they will make the effort to open themselves completely to the parents. This is the key to educating the young. Love that is felt, the priest concludes, should be the starting point when we are educating the young.

No comments:

Post a Comment