Parents have the duty of beginning their children's religious training as soon as possible. Parents have the duty of sending their child to a Catholic school whenever one is available. Careless parents have much to answer for before God if they send their children, to a non-Catholic school, and the child grows up in ignorance or hatred of the Catholic faith.
Parents must provide for the spiritual and bodily welfare of their children.
The fourth commandment requires parents to have their children, and care for them in body and soul. Their duties include provision for their children's religious and moral training, bodily needs, education, discipline, manners, etc.
Parents must provide a minor with food and clothing, guard him from sickness and accidents, and give him suitable play and exercise. It is the duty of parents to exercise personal supervision, and not leave everything to household help. God gave children to parents, not to nursemaids.
Likewise, those institutions such as nurseries and day care where even babies may be left all day, however good they may be, and even if they are under the supervision of Sisters, should be resorted to only for grave reasons.
It is the duty of Catholic parents to send their child to a Catholic School if it is affordable or available. Secular or non-Catholic schools where the Catholic religion is not taught may be tolerated only when the diocesan bishop gives permission on account of prevailing circumstances. In no case may a child be sent to anti-Catholic schools.
At home, the parents should supervise the child's studies. They should support the authority of the teacher, in order to teach the child proper respect for authority. It is not edifying for parents to criticize or ridicule the teacher in the child's presence.
Parents must provide for a child's future by giving him an education that will develop his mind and character. They should also enable him to acquire some training, trade, or profession by which he may later become self-supporting.
Parents who give a child all the food, candy, toys, and clothing he asks for only indulge him, and show false love. Girls should be made to dress with modesty. Parents have no obligation to support their grown-up children. It is a bad practice to continue supporting older children, for in that way they become lazy, depending on the parents.
Parents should begin early to give their child religious training.
1As soon as the child can speak, he should be taught the ordinary prayers, and told of God and holy things. It is a very praiseworthy custom to have family prayers, in which all of the family participate.
A child should be made to say his morning and night prayers regularly. He should be taught his catechism and prepared for Confession and first Holy Communion; he should be made to attend Mass, and perform all his religious duties faithfully.
Parents must exercise continual vigilance, to guard the child from moral evil.
As the child grows older, he should not be allowed excessive liberty, especially with regard to the company he keeps, and to staying out at night. Parents should always know where the child is, who his companions are, what he reads, what shows he sees.
Parents must correct the child's faults, taking care not to be either harsh or over-
Indulgent. They must act with justice as well as mercy. They must treat all their children equally, and show no favoritism.
Parents who fly into a rage about a fault one day and laugh at the same fault another day can hardly expect their child to respect them. Parents who are too "good" to correct, child, or punish a child who has committed grave faults are either stupid or lazy. They are bad parents, failing in their duties to God.
Parents must give good example to the child. Deeds are more powerful than words.
If the parents neglect the sacraments, Mass on Sundays, and holydays, and other religious duties, they cannot well expect their child to be faithful.
Some parents think that just because they send their child to a good Catholic school, they have no further responsibility over his training. However good a school, God did not give a child into its independent care, but into that of parents. Parents must train their children not only by precept, but also chiefly by example. By the fruit the tree is known.
When their child is grown up, parents should remember that their child is an individual whom God created for His own purposes, and that he has his own rights and privileges.
Parents should help their child accomplish God's purposes, as much as they can. They must never be an obstacle to the child, through false love.
In their child's choice of an occupation or profession, parents should act with wisdom and understanding; they should advise, but never force. It happens sometimes that a child shows a strong inclination for a certain study. This should be encouraged, for it is a sign of talent. If the child shows no special inclination, a mutual agreement and understanding should prevail.
If the child is strongly attracted to the study of farming or architecture, he should not be forced to become a lawyer, because his father is a lawyer, or because his parents wish to boast of a politician-son. How many are failures in their occupations today because their parents forced them into a calling distasteful to them!
Many parents out of pure caprice interfere with the practice of their child's profession or occupation, by preventing his acceptance of positions, by wishing him to stay home with them, etc.
Such parents need not be surprised if they find themselves burdened with the support of their grown-up children and their families. If you cut off the wings of a bird, it cannot fly.
In the choice of a state of life, which may make or mar the life of their child, parents should advise, but not interfere. If he wishes to marry, and they have any objection to the partner he has chosen, they may state their objections. If the objection is very serious, they may try to prevent the marriage, but never otherwise.
Parents should not be selfish. Many are so selfish that, wishing to keep their child to themselves, they can find no one in the whole world satisfactory as a partner for him. Parents should remember that the child is entitled to his own life. When they die, he should be able to exist without them.
Parents sin when the force their child to marry someone he does not care for.
Parents must not meddle in the affairs of their married children. This interference is a frequent source of disagreement between couples. Parents must be very careful of their attitude if their child chooses a religious vocation.
Next Thursday: The Fourth Commandment - Duties of Other Superiors