Friday, March 21, 2014

Parental Bragging and Legacy

This post is featured on Catholic Stand.

I tolerate a lot of parental bragging.  I think its great when children know they’ve made their parents proud. I’m happy for my friends and family when their children excel in school, sports, and extra curricular activities, knowing the humongous sacrifices parents made to give these children golden opportunities.  I’m excited that the world’s future rests in talented hands because someday, one of these child prodigies will cure hunger, solve crime, end war, and eliminate e-mail scams and tornadoes altogether. Someday, when these young people are all rich and famous, I’ll be able to flash some bragging of my own: “Why, I knew Billy Bob Junior way back when he used to eat the Cheerios off the floor!”

But to be brutally honest, I’m not impressed with Billy Bob Junior’s achievements per se. What impress me are the children that humble parents rarely brag about. For instance, the ADD diagnosed teenager who cooks for her handicapped grandmother;  the four year old who shares all her toys with friend, foe and stranger; the stuttering six  year old who prays the rosary without being told or threatened;  the shy modestly dressed lovely tween who skips random modern dating as she waits for proper courtship; or the nine year old altar boy who carries the groceries for his mother and helps his little brother with schoolwork.

Of course, I know these children aren’t perfect. They have their moments, too. But when a precious virtue is gifted by God to a child and honed by his parents and siblings, that makes me want to give the entire family a standing ovation.  

“How’d you do that?” I want ask because I don’t have my parenting act together.  I dream of raising future saints but I know (and my confessor will emphatically nod his head) that I fall short.

The majority of humble parents don’t have a slew of know-it-all parenting advice and rarely pretend that they’ve got it all figured out.  So I watch them like a hungry frog eyes a mosquito.  And you know what their secret is? They practice at virtue.  They try to take Jesus’ advice, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Diane McKelva wraps up’ parenting 101 succinctly: “Become the person you want your child to be…children remember what they see.” In short, role modeling.

On the morning Mass of February 6, 2014, at Chapel of Santa Marta, the Church’s Holy Father, Pope Francis, focused his homily on leaving a legacy as parents.  With David’s story as backdrop, He invited us to ask ourselves:  “What legacy will I leave to those who come after me? Will I leave a legacy with my life? Have I done so much good that people want me as a father or mother?”. Perhaps I have not “planted a tree” or “written a book”, “but have I provided wisdom in life?”. The real “legacy is that of David” who on the verge of death told his son Solomon: “You are a strong and capable man. Obey the law of the Lord, your God, proceeding in his ways and executing his laws”.

Parenting has often made me wonder: If God were to speak of me to His friends the saints, (and pride were allowed in heaven), would all He have to show is my trophy from 4th grade?  I would rather that He didn’t feel the need to brag because my life is a living testimony of obedience to His laws, an echo of His love and trust in His mercy.   


8 kids and a business said...

This is a beautiful article, Annabelle. If I may, the fact that you are even thinking about parenting with virtue means that you are on the right track. Keep on doing what you're doing. Your family will be greatly enriched.

Mary N. said...

Amen, Anabelle, I am in complete agreement with you. I think as parents we need to take the focus off the external things and place them on the eternal things. It's very difficult to do because we live in a society that places so much focus on the externals. We are fighting an uphill battle.

I don't have my parenting act together either. I thought it would be much easier than it really is to help my daughter understand what's REALLY important in life. It's hard to parent children these days when the culture says one thing and the parents another. We've already run into problems in this area.

We definitely need Our Lady's
help today :) Thankfully, we have it! She is good at raising saints even if we are not!

Sorry, I just realized how long this comment was. I guess this means I've missed you :)

Anabelle Hazard said...

Terry, thank you. Hope you're having a blessed Lent.

Mary, I miss you too. I like the distinction between external things versus eternal. And yep, Our Lady supplies what we're short of.

April Powell said...

I am not good at responding to others blogs, but well said. :)

Marcia said...

Yes, in the very end, when we face our Creator, He will ask questions that are relevant to eternity rather than to the externals. Ouch, but thank you so much for the reminder!


Gina Guarnere said...

So much truth that my heart is heavy with regret.

How often I lack such virtue in my own parenting. :(