The great values of life—the faith—are passed on only "in the local dialect," that is to say, in the language of the family.
Pope Francis recently visited a parish of his Diocese of Rome, where he took time to spontaneously answer the questions of some of the faithful.
Check out this response he gave to a dad who asked about raising children in the faith.
Children, sons and daughters who grow up, [with] the family, but without the family… At home, the dad is up to his ears in work… The mom, who works, is also very busy… And the children grow up a bit on their own, isn’t that the case? Sometimes the grandmother and the grandfather are there, the grandparents who help so much. Grandparents help, they are a treasure — an applause for grandparents! — This world puts grandparents on the list of things to throw away, because this is a throw-away culture. Whatever isn’t productive, isn’t useful, is discarded. Grandparents are old, and they are discarded. “No, no! Grandparents receive a pension, and I need…” Ah, for self-interest! When this is involved, grandparents are worth something. Never write off grandparents! This, as a side note.
Now, the problem: When children grow up alone, but not due to the ill will of their parents, but because there’s work, the need to work… And they grow up without that dialog with their parents. The great values of life—the faith—are passed on only “in the local dialect,” that is to say, in the language of the family.
Yes, they will learn many things, but that faith that your mom and your dad and your grandparents teach you, that wisdom of life that you learn as a child, and that which is passed on at home, that which will make you strong, is the one you learn “in the local dialect,” if you live the dialect of your home. Yes, at school you learn many things, good things, values, but the fundamental things are learned “in the local dialect,” they are passed on “in the local dialect.” It’s important that we look for the way to help parents so they can talk with their children.
A parent once told me, “When I leave for work in the morning, the children are asleep. When I come back at night, they are asleep.” And only on Sunday—he talks with them on Sunday. But that’s the way this culture is: it’s a slave driver, and work occupies your whole life.
This is why it’s important that grandparents form part of the family, that they help dad and mom to be present with their children, that children don’t grow up alone. Not because they will do bad things. No, no. But they will grow up weak. It’s a “vitamin” problem! It’s a problem of the vitamins that the family provides, that make you grow up strong. …
I have a custom: when I hear the confession of a dad or a mom with children that are more or less young—even those that are older, but above all the little ones—I ask if they play with their children. Values are also transmitted while playing. “But, do you have time to throw yourself down on the floor and do something there with your son, with your daughter?” This is important, it shouldn’t be omitted! “But, I come home tired… I don’t know, I like to watch TV…” But, play with your children! “It’s boring…” No, learn. This is a very important criterion!
A dad and mom who know how to play: waste time with the kids. It’s true that children always ask the same things: “Why?… why?” When they are at the age of “why” they give you a headache with so many questions. But we need to know how to answer, know how to talk, know how to waste time with our children. This is the “dialect” of love, that makes all the values and the faith be passed on. Please, work for this. The core of love is the family. What is not learned in the family, will be difficult to learn outside of it.
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