We said this morning that we all need a spiritual father and mother. The mother has an affective disposition, she is always with open arms. The figure of the father is necessarily bound to the law. This is easy for us to understand. The mother and child are attached, first she has to hold the child in the womb, or else she loses the child, then she holds him on her lap, but then the mother wants to hold the child at home. The father puts a limit on the connection between the mother and the child, without breaking this connection.
Sometimes we think that the father comes in to separate the son from the mother, but the father’s role is the balance, and that makes our children grow in balance. There is a crisis in society today, nobody wants to be a father, nobody wants to have a limit. But someone needs to take the burden of setting limits, and we know how much that is needed.
It is important to you that you are a father, to assume this mission of being the ‘law,’ of setting the limit. Another important thing: Even where there is no biological father, someone needs to assume the role of father, and must be male. It is part of God’s design that within the royal family, the male figure is the one who sets the boundary, and one must assume the reality of the father.
How to put these limits? It is important to understand this limit, and for this the father needs a fundamental virtue, magnanimity, which means “Great Soul.” The father must be magnanimous.
The father should not worry about small defects in his child, but about big ones. You should not fill your child’s life with tiny rules, because too many tiny rules erode the authority of the father. The mother is responsible for the little rules, and that is exactly why her mother’s authority wears off, and when she wants to give a big order, and because her authority is already worn out, she says, well then I’ll talk to your father .
Why is that? It is natural for the child to have more complicity with the mother because they lived together for nine months. A tip to parents. An excellent educator said, ‘Do not give more than one order a month, do not explain too much.’ Do not order too much, order only important things. There is a wisdom there of not spending the authority of the father. It’s like a knife if you use it too much, it becomes dull. And when you need it it will not work.
The tendency of children is to want the freedom of adults, but they do not want the responsibilities of adults. If your father does not set the rules do not worry, because society will put limits on you.
“It is important for you that you are a father, to assume this mission of being ‘law,’ of being a limit”
But we can not be alone in the “no”, we have to be creative. If you cut the internet, the trip, what are you putting in place? Because if the young man is not on the internet what he is going to do, he will not want to “talk” to the air.
You may not have planned to have a child at another time, but God has planned your child, and you now have the child, so know that from now on your life is changed. You need to spend time with him, and if you do not want him to stay all day on the internet, spend time with him. Everyone wants to hug, but nobody wants to take time to drive home the goal (in soccer). Do you want a good son? Spend time with him. If you do not have the time, well then it’s because you put other priorities ahead, you need to have alternatives, or else you do not complain. Go to the movies with your son, to the park, you need to invest time. It is also necessary to give little responsibility to him.
The father does not blackmail, it is the mother who, when the son says to leave, cries. His father says, “The front door is over there”. This is the father figure. You want to do what you want with your money, but if you live in your parents’ house and you pay nothing? It’s wrong. If you want adult freedom you must take responsibility.
You were created in God’s law, you rebel in your teens, you leave home. Often those who do not have the courage to leave the house, then leave spiritually, live with the sullen face. In fact he is a coward, does not have the courage to leave the house, he only feels free when he is away from home. He wants freedom, but he does not want responsibilities. And if he leaves the house, and what happens to him as with the prodigal son, he will remember that the door of the house will be open.
It is important that he has a place, a home to return to. Go back to the education you received as a child. And how many of us got this as a child? Perhaps you hated going to Mass, but nowadays you say, ‘It’s good that my parents educated me in the Catholic faith, how good that I have a home to go back to, like’ Prodigal Son ‘.
Nobody wants to be a father, nobody wants to be a limit. Any football club has a law, but no one in the Church wants it to have a law.
And you as parent and as mother how are you going to raise your children? So you say, ‘but my son does not want to go to Mass!’ See what happens, your son was born, you do not say, I will not teach any language, neither Portuguese nor English, when he grows up he decides if he wants to speak Portuguese or English or whatever language he wants. No one does this, you live in Brazil, everyone speaks Portuguese so you will learn to speak Portuguese.
While your child is in your home he will be Catholic, when he grows up, he is a young adult, if he wants to change, he changes.
How do we regain authority? Obey God. When people realize that you are the first to obey God, then people will begin to respect you as authority.
Transcript and adaptation: Célia Grego
Fr. Paulo Ricardo Azevedo, Jr.