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The Family and Parenting

Dorothy Riera

A few days ago I shared with my husband and children that I was about to write an article concerning today's family. My daughter, Melanie, who is 13 years old looked at me directly and without hesitation said that was a very difficult task. I did not understand her comment and I asked her to explain her statement. She immediately pointed out that today's family does not conform to our old traditional families. There are children that have only one parent. Some live with their grandparents. Some of my friends, she said, live with a parent and a step parent. Some children have deceased parents and some children live with parents of the same sex. I immediately realized how perceptive our young children can be. They are very aware that we cannot generalize the concept of the family in the 1990's.

Since the background of each family differs, we cannot make comparisons. Each family needs to determine which guidelines work in their specific situation. Even companies are trying to encourage its employees to be better parents. In a recent article in Business Week I read that Motorola has started a course for its employees on the difficult art of raising children. Each employee is required to take 40 hours in parenting classes. It also mailed out a booklet to every employee entitled "The role of the adult in the life of the child."

Nevertheless, my daughter did point out that in every family regardless of its components there needs to be the unmistakable qualities of love and trust amongst its members. A family thrives on these two qualities. If the trust part is broken by a member, the love is there for understanding, compassion, punishment and for giving the person another chance. If the love is broken, then trust plays a major role in recapturing that lost love. One must hope and believe that the person who has alienated his love from the family will find it again. Love is the quality that binds the family together. It is the quality that enhances our ability to forgive and to continue to live a life together in spite of our differences and our difficulties.

We all have different backgrounds. We all have different values and traditions. Yet, we are all bound by love and by trust. These are the qualities that should anchor our family together. They are the qualities that emanated from Jesus. His love for us took him to the Cross. His trust in God took him to the Resurrection. This is the legacy we should leave our children.

Thank you, Melanie, for sharing with me your opinions and your wonderful insight.

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