Why do we place so much importance on parents in our society? After all, very few groups get their own holidays, but parents have two, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and we celebrate these day more than we do most other National Holidays, of which there are dozens.
First, it’s because of the impact that parents have on the lives of their children. If we think about ourselves, so much of who we are can be traced back to the influence of our parents, including big things like the values that we hold, our religion, and our political opinions, and everyday things, like the foods that we like and the way that we talk. Our parents help shape who we become through what they teach us and the example that they give by the way that they live their lives.
Parents have a very grave responsibility. They are responsible for the lives of their children. They have to keep them alive and healthy, educate them, and raise them to be successful in the world. Studies show that parenting has a huge impact on the physical, emotional, academic, and mental health of their children not only during childhood, but throughout their entire lives. Children raised with attentive and loving parents in a stable home tend to be healthier, do better in school, get better jobs, have better emotional health, have less legal trouble, and form healthier relationships of their own in adult life.
Parents also have responsibility for their children’s eternal life as well. Parents are entrusted with teaching their children the faith and how to life out the faith in their lives. The example that parent’s give can either help their children to grow in the faith or make it that much more difficult for them. A study done in Switzerland shows how important the parent’s faith life is to the children. The study showed that, if both parents attend church regularly, 33% of their children will end up as regular church-goers and 41% irregular, with the regaining 24% not going at all. However, if neither parent attends church, only 4% of their children will attend regularly and 15 % irregularly, with over 80% not attending at all. If the mother attends regularly but the father irregularly or not at all, then she helps give her children some connection to the Church, ensuring that a larger percentage attend occasionally. The big shock of the study, however, was in the influence of the father. If the father goes to Church regularly, he increases the chances that his children will attend Church regularly, helping them to develop a strong connection to the faith, even when the mother goes irregularly or not at all. As Robbe Low put it in an article on the study, “A non-practicing mother with a regular father will see a minimum of two-thirds of her children ending up a church. In contrast, a non-practicing father with a regular mother will see two-thirds of his children never darken the church door.” Men sometimes think of church as “women and children stuff,” but, just like a part of a mother’s job is to witness to the love and care that God has for each of us, part of a father’s job is to witness to Christ as the Good Shepherd, leading His flock. Don’t be afraid to take a leading role in the faith life of your family.
We are right to be grateful to our parents for everything they do for us, from feeding us and raising us, to teaching us about right and wrong, to helping us become the men and women that we are today. So I’d like everyone to stop and say a special prayer for your parents, asking God to bless them, whether they’re still with us or having already gone on to their final reward.
Next Week: On Deacons
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Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.