A father owes two obligations to his children: He is bound to provide for their corporal wants, and to educate them in the habits of virtue. It is not necessary to say anything else about the first obligation than there are some fathers more cruel than the most ferocious of wild beasts, for these squander away in eating, drinking and pleasure, all their property, or all the fruits of their industry, and allow their children to die of hunger. Let us discuss education, which is the subject of this article.
It is certain that a child's future good or bad conduct depends on his being brought up well or poorly. Nature itself teaches every parent to attend to the education of his offspring. God gives children to parents, not that they may assist the family, but that they may be brought up in the fear of God, and be directed in the way of eternal salvation. "We have," says St John Chrysostom, "a great deposit in children; let us attend to them with great care." Children have not been given to parents as a present, which they may dispose of as they please, but as a trust, for which, if lost through their negligence, they must render an account to God.
One of the great Fathers says that on the day of judgment, parents will have to render an account for all the sins of their children. So he who teaches his son to live well shall die a happy and tranquil death. "He that teaches his son ... when he died, he was not sorrowful, neither was he confounded before his enemies" (Eccl. 30:3, 5). And he will save his soul by means of his children, that is, by the virtuous education which he has given them. "She shall be saved through childbearing" (1 Tim. 2:15).
But on the other hand, a very uneasy and unhappy death will be the lot of those who have labored only to increase the possessions, or to multiply the honors of their family, or who have sought only to lead a life of ease and pleasure, but have not watched over the morals of their children. Saint Paul says that such parents are worse than infidels. "But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim. 5:8).
Were fathers or mothers to lead a life of piety and continual prayer, and to receive Holy Communion every day, they should be damned if they neglected the care of their children. (Read more.)Share