January 18, 2018
There comes a time when parents simply want some quiet time to themselves. Handling the rigors of parenthood can take a physical and spiritual toll. This is something almost every parent goes through. It’s not sinful for a parent to seek a retreat or respite from their children. What can lead this desire toward the stages of sinful behavior is the intention of deliberately isolating ourselves from caring and teaching our children, which is a subtle but troubling trend I’ve witnessed over the last several years. What I mean here is a gradual separation of the spiritual, emotional, physical, and psychological relationship between parent and child.
Whether the reason is work, current family structure, or the distractions of daily living, the intimate relationship between parent and child appears to be gradually eroding. By nature, children desire to be near their parents. It’s part of the protective nurturing process all children seek. When this parent-child structure is interrupted the alternatives may not always be spiritually healthy.
The Catechism reminds us “the Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit . . . The relationships within the family bring an affinity of feelings, affections, and interests, arising above all from the members’ respect for one another. The family is a privileged community called to achieve a sharing of thought and common deliberation by the spouses as well as their eager cooperation as parents in the children’s upbringing” (2204-2205).
The Sin of Isolation
Our identity as parents rests in our understanding and willful intent to place Jesus Christ at the center of everything we do, especially our parenting. Every time a parent asks, “What should I do about my son?” I immediately tell them to first be genuinely present. It’s very important that a child knows his father and mother are both spiritually and physically present. The ease by which one can fall into the sin of isolation from children is why the virtue of presence is so important. When isolation occurs, the child will often direct his attention toward something that draws his desire away from his family, replacing it with another outlet, typically one involving social media.
St. John Paul II reminded us the family finds its identity (what it is) and its mission (what it can and should do) in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer (Familiaris Consortio, 17). Our actions as parents are therefore to re-echo Christ. One facet of this action is to bring Christ into the home in prayer. When we invite and initiate a relationship with Christ within the home it strengthens the family unit and provides a spiritual base by which the family can withstand the sin of isolation. Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. . . Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule (CCC 2222-2223).
Addressing the Sin of Isolation
A sound and practical way of avoiding the sin of isolation is by being present to our children — especially in prayer. This act of love dispels any temptation to isolate ourselves from our children because we see them as authentic gifts from God.
One of the surest ways to dispel parental isolation is through the practice of intercessory prayer. Simply put, pray on behalf of your children and offer them to Christ. The gift of intercessory prayer is that it allows you to always be present with your child which is exactly what our parental call is all about.
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Marlon De La Torre, is the Director of Catechesis for the Diocese of Fort Worth and writes articles on catechesis, evangelization, and Christian spirtuality at KnowingIsDoing.org.
There comes a time when parents simply want some quiet time to themselves. Handling the rigors of parenthood can take a physical and spiritual toll. What can lead this desire toward the stages of sinful behavior is the intention of deliberately isolating ourselves from caring and teaching our children, which is a subtle but troubling trend I’ve witnessed over the last several years.