By Dr. Samuel Torres
Parenting has never been an exact science. It does not come with a manual, or a set of requirements effectively preparing one for the myriad of possible events or circumstances for which parents find themselves as they navigate parenting waters. Because God gives each beautiful child a soul, we understand our responsibility is immense. Once a parent, one is always a parent.
Against the backdrop of a world that seems to grow increasingly more confusing for our children, we assess the need for support and affirmation for them, and in our roles as parents. The gravity of today’s reality can often leave us feeling as though we are not prepared or inadequate to meet the challenges of what many children are facing when influenced by social media, peers and modern world ideas about identity and individual rights. This is where parents need and must realize how important their support is for their children.
My wife and I raised three children and have one grandchild, with another grandchild on the way. I often think of the world they will be living in. I know my example, my faith, my dedication to my family, and my values, may be under scrutiny and even appear old-fashioned to some. They are tried and true; passed down over many generations of those who have survived difficult times. They are rooted in a church community and family that always created a safe and welcoming place to call home.
Parents are the primary educators for their children. If you don’t think they’re listening or watching you, check back in about 10 years. History tells us they will likely model you. The choices you make now are impacting them in ways you may not see. They may be arguing with you about going to Mass or curfew times. They might be receding into a quiet world or chattering away with silliness. Their choices may annoy you and make you worry. Your responses to all of these things are reflecting back to them, who they are.
My children were educated in the Catholic School environment through the university experience. I didn’t do it because I wanted to send them to a good college, or because they would be the starter on their sports team or have a chance at school leadership. They did those things and of course I can proudly say they had those opportunities.
As difficult as it was to pay tuitions and argue at the dinner table about homework and values, I mainly did it for the support I received from the community. I knew the support of the school community would embrace my children each day. This wasn’t fancy words and teachers pushing paper. Support looked like frequent Mass, daily prayer, and retreats. Support looked like personal accountability in academics, and sports. Mostly, support for me and my children existed in the relationship between us and the teachers or coaches they interacted with each day.
Along the way, we found our way. Our family existed within the support of a faith-filled community. It wasn’t a perfect journey. A few scraped knees along the way afforded opportunities to get up and keep going. It was an example I am very grateful for and very glad I stayed the course in providing for them.
When a community embraces its children, it is richly blessed. Neither parents nor children are perfect. The journey becomes the manual, and therefore is a life work. We can’t go backwards but can bring what we are learning forward into the present and future. Our commitment to doing the best we can in each day can be our prayer. The power of this prayer is realized when our children witness our belief that life is worth living, especially when celebrated in a faith community. Each Catholic school represents a beautiful mosaic of talents and givers, students and parents, faculty and administrators striving to be a living prayer for God. This is exciting, and enlivens our families, invigorating them for the journey. Our daily prayer unlocks the graces that can chase away fear or doubt. Most importantly, as parents we increase our confidence to be the best parent of our ability. We are supported by the values and prayer life of our school communities.
May God grant you the grace to create a masterpiece for Him in your family! I thank Him for the school communities supporting you and your children.
Dr. Samuel Torres is Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Bernardino.