When our son was seven, I held his hand as we walked on a frozen road with his little brothers when he broke away from me and ran ahead. He was so quick, I could only watch in terror and call out, “Wait! Be careful!” By the grace of God he was safe, but it was a defining moment for me as a mother. I realized I wouldn’t be able to protect him forever.
Our children are plunging into a future where we cannot follow them. Before children let go of our hands and run off, their parents and everyone else who loves them, hope to equip them for the journey. We have so much to tell them, if they would only slow down and listen. We try to pass on the traditions of our faith, our holiday customs, our family stories, our favorite recipes, and all our hard-won lessons in life and love. Before they go, we want to give them a sense of security, yet also encourage them to wrestle with new challenges. We want to teach them to be kind, to be respectful of others, and to express themselves honestly. If it were not for the children, why would we care to make anything that lasts? Because of them, we want to build a better world, a cleaner environment, and a more welcoming Church. Before we are gone, we yearn for some assurance that they will carry our values into the next generation. It won’t be enough to just lecture them, though. We must leave them a legacy of faith, hope, and love that they have experienced in words as well as life.
More than what we say, it is how we live and the kind of people we are that makes a difference to our children. If they see that we ourselves are praying, loving, respecting, and learning, then they will be more likely to grow up that way, too.
Our son is now a father of twins, and they have given him many heart-stopping moments already, making their own mistakes, and running blithely into their own futures. I am smiling as I watch him try to keep up with them, and I know that our merciful God is also just.
Dr. Lauri Przybsyz is the Coordinator for Marriage and Family Life for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.Sign Up for Our E-Newsletter!