A Letter For Parents and Children
Dear brothers and sisters,
Psalms 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
As I become steeped in Catholic faith it is inevitable that my blog posts will become increasingly tinged with Bible references and my religion. I do not really plan on apologizing it, and I only hope that my agnostic and atheist friends will be able to accept my conversion and continue to read my letters because at my core I am still the same person, and arguably better.
Today’s post is about parenting, and about the act of being a child (for which I suppose there is no correct term). They are both crucial and inextricably linked — there can be no child without a parent, no parent without a child.
To start off this post I will promise you, honeybugs, that I have loathed and despised my parents as much as the worst of you. I have cursed their names and disparaged them freely to any of my friends who cared to listen. In high school I swore to my mother that I would never allow her to set eyes on my future children. I promised to myself that at eighteen I would get out of that house and never look back.
There is a very real tragedy in the stories of too many children. This tragedy is that they are distanced from what is supposed to be a loving and kind relationship because of their parents’ dogmatism or ambition. People often fail to understand that 1 // they do not actually own their children, and that 2 // mothers, despite having carried a baby around in their womb for approximately nine months, are not necessarily entitled to anything from said baby. The relationship between a parent and a child, first and foremost, must be one of love and mutual respect, not of obligation or expected returns on an investment.
I am writing this letter because of a post I read on LINE, and at first I planned on defending the rights of parents. But as I write this letter I find that instead I am defending children, just as I have for over six years before the writing of this letter. Because that is where I have been led, that is what I shall write.
Being a child in this world is a very difficult responsibility. Often children are expected to carry the family name, to bestow and protect family honour, to raise family status, and to be THE BEST. Parents who cannot control their ambition and lust for material success often try to micromanage their childrens’ lives. Instead of valuing their children’s wellbeing, they value:
-a perfect future spouse
Too many parents measure love through dollars* and time. The more money and time spent on a child, the more they are loved. This is a wholly incorrect way of parenting and creates a wide rift between parent and child which is often insufficiently justified by the excuse: “this is how I was raised.”
I encourage you to remember that a disappointing past is never an excuse for a disappointing future.
Dear brothers and sisters, every human — whether they are 3 years old or LGBTQIA+ — has the right to feel loved and to be free from harm. The parent-child relationship is arguably the holiest of relationships because it directly mirrors the relationship of Jesus and the Father, who are united in perfect and gracious love.
Children are not the property of their parents. They are blessings bestowed by Allah and must be returned to him. As such, it is not correct and unfortunately inevitable for parents to live vicariously through their children or to abuse them. Parents are responsible for guiding their children with firm love and grace. This means that parents must understand (and I mean, really really understand) that their children are separate from them, with separate thoughts, feelings, and actions, and most importantly, boundaries. And this means that parents must understand that boundaries cannot be encroached upon. Emotional and physical boundaries exist to protect the individual soul within each person. Children whose emotional and physical boundaries are violated by their parents, who have not been given the gift of free will, who have never learned to say “no” — those children grow up to be destructive and heartbroken adults.
Despite the inherent immaturity of many minors’ (humans below the age of maturity) thoughts and feelings, they must be taken seriously. As a person who has suffered from depression and anxiety, I promise you: it is absolutely imperative that these be taken seriously. This routes back to my earlier discussion of boundaries. If a child’s feelings, thoughts, or sicknesses are invalidated and ignored, they will spiral out of control and result in an adulthood of fuzzy and violated boundaries. Parents, you have been given a great gift and a weighty responsibility. Respect your children. Each child from the Lord is different, with different strengths, weaknesses, wants, dreams, aspirations, and sicknesses. Even in one family different parenting styles must be needed. And you must have the strength and maturity to understand that you have a responsibility to your children and to God to respect those differences.
But my dear honeybugs who are still children: you must also love and accept your parents. Trust me. I know. I know that being a child is a very difficult and unappreciated responsibility. But they are the people to whom you have been entrusted, and they are humans (even if they do not seem to accept that fact).
Matthew 5:39 I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other:
Storing hatred and bitterness in your heart will not help you. It will not fix your position, it will not save you, and it will not make you feel any better. I know that it is difficult to communicate your needs to your parents, and hard to have patience. But please, I beseech you: wait. Wait. Although it is difficult to wait it is necessary because unfortunately in this world you are not allowed many rights as a child. (I know, because I once memorized the Texas laws about children). Hatred is (to use a cliché) a double-edged sword with the sharper end pointing at you. It will drain you. If you can, please, open your heart and try to understand that your parents are human and full of fault. You must understand, too, that as much as you hate them, you most likely cannot live without them. (I have tried to live on my own and I tell you, I failed miserably). That is the unshakeable fact many of you are facing, and for that my heart goes out to you. I am sorry, and I am praying for you always.
My second day of semester 2 has finished today and I am happy. I was moved to class B at my weeks-old request back in semester 1 and am honestly overjoyed to have Sir Fiter again as a teacher (this time for Marketing). I downloaded about 12 apps for Catholics and 18 for business updates. In case you were not aware I have a very bad habit of batch-downloading apps, trying them out, keeping the ones I like, deleting the rest, and then repeating the process. I do this whenever I have a good connection and space on my phone.
May you have a blessed day filled with the love of the Lord and the Virgin Mary, as well as my own insufficient love. I pray always that you be given a strong will and a humble heart full of love. May you be filled with peace and joy wherever you are in your world and your life.
Theodora Sarah Abigail
*insert your nation’s form of currency here