Duties of Parents Towards Their Children

It has often made me marvel to think that, though human beings put such great effort into learning many things, parents often ignore one of their greatest responsibilities: learning how to raise their children properly.  While there is more than one right way to raise a child, there are definitely many wrong ways which ought to be avoided.  We parents have a moral obligation to raise our children well, which presupposes learning just how to do that.

Interestingly, in the exposition of the Fourth Commandment, which is commonly understood only in light of the duties of children towards their parents, The Catechism of the Council of Trent specifically addresses the Duties of Parents Towards Their Children:

As the law of God commands children to honour [sic], obey, and respect their parents so are there reciprocal duties which parents owe to their children. Parents are obliged to bring up their children in the knowledge and practice of religion, and to give them the best rules for the regulation of their lives; so that, instructed and trained in religion, they may serve God holily and constantly.

Deal with fewer tantrums in 3 days (or less!)

The Catechism then admonishes parents “to guard particularly against three things, in which they but too often transgress.”

In the first place, they are not by words or actions to exercise too much harshness towards their children. This is the instruction of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Colossians: Fathers, he says, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. For there is danger that the spirit of the child may be broken, and he become abject and fearful of everything. . . .

Should a fault be committed which requires reproof and chastisement, the parent should not, on the other hand, by undue indulgence, overlook its correction. Children are often spoiled by too much lenity and indulgence on the part of their parents. . . .

Finally, to avoid what is most shameful in the instruction and education of children, let them not propose to themselves aims that are unworthy. . . .

While we recognize that the Sacrament of Matrimony bestows upon us supernatural graces to assist us in our duties as parents in raising our children, we would be wise to likewise remember:

Vain is our prayer, vain our confidence in God, if we do not add our generous efforts to perform all our duties, to live up to our high vocation.  We can, and we should, hope for everything in the Name of Jesus, but He expects a constant effort on our part to be entirely faithful to Him.”

Divine Intimacy, Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., p. 525

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