While conducting a retreat at one of the parishes in Delhi, for a special session for the couples, the children were sent to another hall. The religious sister of our team was entrusted the responsibility to take their class. After the retreat, when we rejoined, I saw some sort of uneasiness on the face of the sister. I asked her “are you alright? Is there anything wrong?” She said “No Father, I am okay’’. I have never observed her so over the most recent four years of our service together. She had turned pale. As I comprehended she was not fine, I again asked her “Sister, what has happened?” Then she shared about how the children were ‘taking care of’ her in the past one hour. She, being an advocate and social activist was even instrumental by remaining with outstretched hands in front of the bulldozers to overcome the endeavour by the land mafia and their Goondas to demolish a ghetto. “Father, I took out all the tricks which I had, yet…” A Sister stands helpless and not being able to control 30 odd kids!

A retreat was going on in the centre. The first day itself, guidelines are given for the comfortable stay of the participants in the centre. If someone finds it hard to tail, they are permitted to backpedal. This is for the participants so that they may not have any disturbance.. I needed to caution three boys who came from same parish, a few times. On the third day, out of sheer helplessness, when I called up their parents to send them back, a ‘loving’ dad responded “Aren’t we sending them there for their rectification?” Then I got a couple of guidelines too which I should keep in my mind so that they may proceed in the retreat till the end! What they themselves couldn’t do in the past 15 years, they wish it should happen within 4 days in the retreat centre. This is how the miracles happen!

Tune into the news we hear nowadays. A fourteen year old boy along with his companions gang raped a four year old girl and burned her, a student shot his teacher, a dad sexually molesting his daughter for years, a teacher being punished for punishing students…. These are only indications about where the new generation is heading to.

When parents bring their children for counselling, I have often felt two things. Firstly, It’s late and secondly, it is the parents who need counselling rather than children. The anxiety of the parents is more than that of the children giving exams. Over care and superfluous security is leading children to be juvenile. Not knowing how to show respect or treat those who come home or whom they meet. Not having the quality to confront the smallest crisis. It turns to frustration, depression and finally suicide. If pampering is more it is a problem and if love is less, then also it is a problem. A mother is bringing her son studying in 11th standard to the retreat with an offer… She would give him a mobile worth Rs 24,000 for attending the retreat! The four year old boy is an addict of masturbation, the repercussion of his dad not switching off the porn site after seeing it on the smart phone. It can be deleted from the mobile, but by laying on of hands or by sprinkling Holy water, will it be erased for ever from his brain?

While on his journey to Golgotha, Jesus was not soothing the women of Jerusalem, rather he told them to cry for their children and themselves. Surely a time is coming when we hear “Blessed are the barren”. Jesus gave a warning (cfr Lk 23:28). The Holy Bible and the Church teach about responsible parenthood. The Psalmist reminds us to see our children as a heritage from the Lord and a reward from heaven. “Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Ps 127:3). The word of God says that we should not hesitate in punishing our kids and thereby we save them from hell (cfr Prov 23:13, 14).

When a plant is sown, it needs water, sunlight, and manure for its growth. All these are mandated needs. The absence of any one of these will result in stunted growth. If given in excess also, it is not good… It will rot. The freedom given before the age of maturity or forcefully grabbing the freedom and facilities we let our children to ‘rot’.
There are parents who try to teach the kids a ‘lesson’. Also, there are parents who pour out their problems on to the kids. And, those who are afraid to say ‘No’ to their kids are indeed destroying them. Effective parenting will help the kids differentiate between good and bad and control their character. This control originates not from the fear of being caught, but out of self-respect and respect towards others.

God didn’t save the world through a miracle. He became a human child and on the lap of poverty, amidst struggles, he grew up working hard, in the favour of God and men. He wandered doing good, facing all slander and stalemates. He enjoyed good friendships and celebrations. Where it should be questioned He raised His voice. And, in places where he should maintain silence, it was as that of a lamb. He was deserted by his dear ones, betrayed and he died on the cross without blaming anyone – A Just Father and a grace filled Mother. Lived a life accepting all the realities of life and confronted them. He said “Learn from me” (cfr Matt 11:29). There are still lessons to be learned by the parents and children from the ‘Way of the Cross’. It’s not enough to teach children to recite ‘Hail Mary’ but they ought to be taught to live looking at her. Let there be families laden with the joy of resurrection!