Marriage and being Parents
Marriage and being Parents : A Few Thoughts
It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him (Gen 1: 18). God, realizing that it is not good for man to be alone created eve and brought her to Adam and he named her woman. God created man and woman to be in a relationship that results in the institution of the family. Did God ask Adam for his preference/likes/dislikes/conditions of a woman to be in a relationship with him? Adam did not place any conditions before God, he accepted the companion God provided him with and they both lived as one flesh. When we fast forward to the institution of marriage in our modern times, how is marriage and marrying partners perceived? Don’t we hear of numerous requirements and conditions to be met with: height, weight, education, wealth, etc.? Both the marrying parties place not only lot of conditions but quite a few of these unions fall apart when they confront challenges and problems of life. To accept and love one’s spouse unconditionally (in spite of differences) as a gift from God is what will keep a marriage together.
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh (Gen 1:24). God understood that living alone is not good for a man or a woman and so He created them for each other; to live together and to be of one flesh. But we tend to take the easy route: living alone is joyful than arguing and putting with each other. In the vision of the Bible, in spite disagreements, a couple would still live together and try to sort out their issues but in our times we find the easy path to walk out at the slightest sign of a disagreement. Level of tolerance seems to be at the lowest ebb. Tolerance in married life is not a onetime act. It has to continue till the end for a successful marriage.
God said to man to leave behind everything and to live with his wife. It’s the beginning of a new family. What is needed is a healthy balance and distance between their own family and others even if it means their own parents. Living with one’s parents seems to be of the past. Today most couples live far from their parents. The couple should try to sort out their differences before allowing others to sort out their issues. If our parents and elders cannot be part of a solution it is better to leave the couple to sort out their issues. At times because of a false sense of family status and ego we cause more damage to the marriage than being of help. A good parent will counsel her son/daughter that in any relationship there will always be issues and challenges but will support them to find a solution to their problems and move on in their life rather than adding fuel to the fire.
For example, some parents wrongly interpret the words of St. Paul when he says that a woman should obey her husband and therefore should be subjective to him. For some it becomes demeaning of a man if he considers his spouse to be his equal. Parents must realize that just as their son leaves everything behind to form his new family so too the girl leaves her family (and all the comforts she has grown up with) to be with him. What is true for him is equally true for her too. Rather than criticizing and complaining it will be helpful to support them to sort out their issues. It all depends upon our perspective: the way we feel for our daughter should be the way we feel for our daughter in law too; not to have different standards to measure and to judge.
The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him (Proverbs: 23:24). As parents what do we expect for our children? There is nothing wrong and wishing that they live with prosperity but that monetary prosperity and material comforts alone are not what we pass onto our children. As parents our prime responsibility is to bring up our children in righteousness and wisdom. It has to begin with us parents setting an example. We cannot expect our children to live a life of holiness when we ourselves don’t live a life of righteousness. What is needed is a life of witness. What values are we passing on? Wanting to live like the Jones, that we belong to a selected social class? Sad to see young parents slogging between two to three jobs to provide a life of material comfort to their children but fail to give them their “presence.” It is becoming a social pattern where work and money have become a priority to maintain social standards and to pay the EMI (Equated Monthly Installment). Where does God fit into our family life? First and foremost our vocation as parents is to bring up our children in the paths of righteousness and wisdom.
Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise (Proverbs 15:31). Let us also remember that it is the duty and the responsibility of the parents to correct and discipline their children when they err and walk the forbidden path. It is not a question of letting them live a life as they please and that anything goes. While it is true that home is where charity begins but home is also the first place where seeds of faith and moral values take root. When we pass on the faith to them we are taking a promise to bring them up in faith and moral values. Our responsibility is not just to provide food and clothing but first and foremost to bring them up in the path of righteousness and holiness. Hence, disciplining a child when needed is part of being a good parent. Before we can demand of our children we ourselves need to be just and right. If not we have no moral authority to demand of our children the same. Parents do not forget that home is the first place where they will be exposed and schooled in faith, hope, and charity. Are we ready? Time to think and act.