Parenting In Harmony
The father is the father; the mother is the mother.
Each one’s role is different; together they must harmonize. This is particularly essential when there is a question of the exercise of authority over the children.
The principal authority is centered in the father; the mother who is associated with him, shares this authority. Both have therefore, according to their respective roles, the mission to command; the father in a way that is not more harsh but more virile; the mother in a way that is not more easygoing—she ought to demand the same things the father requires and with the same firmness—but more gently expressed. Parental action must be common, harmonious, coordinated, directed to the same end.
Extremely unpleasant conditions are created if the mother, for example, tolerates an infraction of an order given by the father.
The father on his part should avoid too great sternness, an uncalled-for severity of tone or what is worse, cruelty.
The mother should guard against weakness and insufficient resistance to the tears of the child or the cute little ways he has discovered for avoiding punishment or side-tracking a command. She ought to be particularly cautious not to undermine paternal authority either by permitting the children to disobey his injunctions or, under pretext of tempering the father’s severity, by countermanding his orders.
It is from the father himself that she should secure the necessary relaxation of requirements if she feels he is being too rigid; never should she on her own change a decision that the father has given. Otherwise the children will soon play the father and mother against each other; they will know that they can have recourse to mamma when papa commands something and they will be able to disregard the order.
Father and mother both lose their authority in this way to their own great detriment. The wife discredits her husband in the eyes of the children and herself as well.
Never should the children sense the least discord between their parents, either in regard to their principles or their methods of training. Quick to exploit the rift, they will also be quick to get the upper hand. It is the ruination of obedience.
The mother can blame herself for working forcefully for its destruction. She is perfectly justified in trying to make the execution of the father’s orders more agreeable; that is quite another thing. But in this case she must justify the conduct of the father and not seem to blame him by softening the verdict.
Husband and wife are but one: he, the strength; she, the gentleness. The result is not an opposition of forces but a conjoining of forces; the formation of a single collective being, the couple.
Another point in this matter of obedience: Never let the children command the parents. How many parents, mothers especially, betray their mission!
Parents are not supposed to give orders indiscriminately but wisely; when they have done this, they should not go back on a command. To command little is the mark of a firm authority.
There should be no fussiness, no irritation, only calm firmness. The child, who becomes unnerved, and certainly not without cause, before a multiplicity of disconnected orders that fall upon him from all sides, submits before a gentle and unbending authority. Calmness steadies him and unyielding firmness unfailingly leads him to obey.
Adapted from Raoul Plus, S.J.’s Christ in the Home (Colorado Springs, CO: Gardener Brothers, 1951). This book is a treasure chest of advice for Catholics on the practical and spiritual concerns of raising a family.
DAILY QUOTE for January 24, 2021
SAINT OF THE DAY
St. Francis de Sales
Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a convent. Day after day, they took their meals together, they went to chapel together, and they prayed and sang together.