Good Parenting is Hard (Parenthood)

Good Parenting is Hard

By: Felix A. Montelara, The

I want to spend a few minutes talking about parenthood.  I refer you to the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32.  You all know the story: a young man requests his inheritance from his father and strikes out on his own, living a life of excess until he squanders every cent.  He sells himself into servitude, yet even then he doesn’t even eat as well as the pigs he cares for.  In the cold, hard world, no one helps him.  Amonzon Book coverFinally, he decides to go and repent to his father, and ask that he become one of his servants.  When the father sees him, he rejoices and commands that a giant feast be held in his honor, and he dresses him in find clothes.  The father, according to Luke 15:24 says, 24 “’for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’”  Can you imagine how hard it was for this father to say that?  I wonder to myself, would I have said that?  Or would I have slipped in an, “I told you so” or an “I knew this would happen?”  Let’s be honest- parenting is hard, and we parents are as imperfect as our kids.  We raise our children the best we can, but they grow up and make their own decisions and mistakes.  The real lesson about parenthood here is this:  the father in this story did a good job with this young man, because at the end of all of his failure he knew enough to be humble and go home to where the love was.  And what a strong man was the father, to recognize that the lesson was already learned- and the moment called for acceptance, not admonishment.  If only all parents and children would spend a little more time contemplating this story, which is as pertinent today as ever.  Maybe by doing so we could have a few less mistakes, and a few more happy endings.  I think Jesus was making the point that God the Ultimate Father treats us in the same way- when we go to him with our mistakes he welcomes, accepts, and forgives us.  Shouldn’t we try to do the same?  This reminds me of when Jesus stopped the stoning of the woman by saying, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  We parents have made our fair share of mistakes.  Let’s rejoice when our kids actually come to us for forgiveness. It means that we did something right.

Luke 15:11-32

Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

The Parable of the Prodigal and His Brother

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons; 12 and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. 15 So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have fed on[a] the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[b] 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; 23 and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”