Few would deny the joy that arrives when a child is born. They are identified as a gift from God. We find ourselves if not unconsciously pinning our hopes for the future upon their precious innocent lives. When sorrow comes, we do not expect it for we naively think that life’s order is that the old live and die, and the young come after and live and die. The reality is that life expectancy is not guaranteed to any of us. What may be even more heartbreaking is when sorrow comes in a different way to us by way of a child. A wise proverb says, “He who becomes the father of a fool grieves. The father of a fool has no joy.” The first word refers to a ‘dullard,’ whether spiritual, intellectual, or moral. The second focuses on moral folly, one who lives as if there is no God. It is sad to have a foolish child.
Parents of children who go against their upbringing indeed find only bitterness and disappointment. Another proverb stresses the impact having a foolish child has on the mother: “A foolish child is a grief to his father and sorrow to her who bore him.” Even Socrates agreed, “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; and they show disrespect for their elders, and love to chatter in places of exercise. They no longer rise when others enter a room. They contradict their parents; they chatter before company; they gobble up their food and they terrorize their teachers.” (5th cent.) Why does this happen? There are many reasons; some are attributed to home environment, and some, to influences outside the home. In the end, just as the child shall not bear the guilt (consequences maybe) of the parents choices, neither shall the parents bear the guilt of the child’s choices. We each are responsible for our own.
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