Thursday, 31 August 2017

Love Letter to Parents - Matters of Faith

Dear parents and parents to be...

Remember that you are parents to your kids, and that you are fully responsible for bringing up your kids not only in worldly matters, but especially also in spiritual matters. There are times you need to double your efforts and make sacrifices to be with your children to share the Word of God. Spending time on the Word of God with your kids is among the many opportunities you have to show your love of God, and your kids to follow your example.

To spare you the anguish and agony of what may come to pass one day, allow me to enlighten you on something which should be addressed early, so that you can take the necessary steps and precautions to rectify it before it happens to you, since prevention is better than cure.

Every once in a while, I visit families in BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities( and during other occasions. When I visit some families, elderly couples or single parents are sometimes left alone at home by themselves. I enquire them where are their children? The first thing they proudly talk about is the children's achievements and high status or income; and that many of their children stay overseas, some in other cities, some staying in different affluent or high-society areas.

I ask them do they come and visit? They reply that some of their children only come and visit once a month, some during long holidays, some once a year, some rarely, etc.; and the often heard excuse is that their children are so busy with their worldly lives, that they supposingly have little time for anything else (in Hokkien, "Boh Eng" or 忙碌, 没有閑暇時間 in Mandarin - which is translated as busy, no leisure time). Some of these elderly couples even lament that some or even all their children no longer practice their faith, or hardly go to church, or worse still, have abandoned their faith altogether and even joined some other faith, especially due to marriage.

I smile at them and tell them that you have given or even forced your children with all they need or might need to make their worldly life better in the future (tuition, sports, music), and that they spend hours in such activities in order to master them. But how much time do you and your children spend together with God by sharing the Word of God and participating at Sunday mass? They often say that they all have no time to pray family prayer together, or share the Word of God together, or even get involved in various church activities. Tuition, piano, swimming, dancing lessons, and many other worldly activities seem more important, and some parents are so kiasu (scared or don't want to lose), that they even have the audacity to send their children, in some cases children as young as 2 or 3 years old, for language classes, music classes, or some form of mind enrichment class, with hope and expectation that their children would have a head start in life or be one up over others, and as a result, faith-related activities seem to take a back seat.

I tell them that the idea of the "Family that prays together stay together" is very simple... You know very well that spending 5 mins in activities won't help your kids to master them, that's why they spend hours doing so. Then by spending barely 5 mins (or even less) with your kids to know the Word of God, will it help you or your kids to know God and His commands (such as responsibility of parents to kids, kids to parents, how we treat others, and the consequences of neglecting such commands and responsibilities)? Of course not! Since practice makes perfect, not only when it comes to worldly matters, but especially so in spiritual matters.

Many of them acknowledge their mistake, but by then it's too late. In Malay, "Nasi sudah jadi bubur." In English, Ït is no use crying over spilt milk." I pray for them and ask them to pray and ask for forgiveness from God, for pushing their children until they become accustomed to being slaves or subservient to worldly needs, and in doing so neglect their responsibilities as parents towards their children by bringing them up in Godly ways.

So parents... what would you do? REMEMBER; "little things we neglect now, become our biggest downfall in future, and may even mortally wound us spiritually." I find it amusing and baffling that, some parents demand and expect teachers of Religious Education in our Churches to be so dedicated about guiding their kids in Faith, and such parents themselves merely wash their hands off such an important duty. Why can't you parents cast aside your indifference, "tidak apa" or "don't care" attitude, and laziness, and do what you, as primary educators of your children, are supposed and expected to do?

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