Modeling Mutuality & Equality


The Relationship Between Parents and Children

"It may sound strange to speak of the relationship between parents and children in terms of hospitality. But it belongs to the center of the Christian message that children are not properties to own and rule over, but gifts to cherish and care for. Our children are our most important guests, who enter into our home, ask for careful attention, stay for a while and then leave to follow their own way….

They have their own style, their own rhythm and their own capacities for good and evil. They cannot be explained by looking at their parents....

Children carry a promise with them, a hidden treasure that has to be led into the open through education. . in a hospitable home. It takes much time and patience to make the little stranger feel at home, and it is realistic to say that parents have to learn to love their children....It comes forth out of a relationship which has to grow and deepen....

What parents can offer is a home, a place that is receptive but also has the safe boundaries within which their children can develop and discover what is helpful and what is harmful. There their children can ask questions without fear, and can experiment with life without taking the risk of rejection....

The hospitable home indeed is the place where father, mother and children can reveal their talents to each other, become present to each other as members of the same human family, and support each other in their common struggles to live and make live.

The awareness that children are guests can be a liberating awareness, because many parent suffer from deep guilt feelings toward their children, thinking that they are responsible for everything their sons or daughters do....But children are not properties we can control as a puppeteer controls his puppets, or train, as a lion tamer trains his lions. They are guests we have to respond to, not possessions we are responsible for....

We keep reminding ourselves that they are just guests who have their own destination, which we do not know or dictate, we might be able to let them go in peace and with our blessing. A good host is not only able to receive his guests with honor and offer them all the care they need, but also able to let them go when their time to leave has come."   

-Henri Nouwen

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Many people don't grow up because true maturity isn't about marveling over one's powers. It is about becoming like Christ who came not to be served, but to serve.