I have been struggling with a lot of anger lately. Not anger at the many teenagers who come in and out of my life, but at their parents. We live in a world of immediate gratification. A “me first” mentality and parents are not immune from it. Many of the teens I work with come from difficult home situations, some from downright abusive or neglectful situations. As a parent myself, I do understand how hard the job of parenting can be, but transversely, I cannot fathom how some parents do not consider the needs of their own children!
My anger started out as a reaction to the behavior of these parents. One parent locked his teenage son out in the cold, another continued a relationship when it was clearly not the best thing for her children, still another does not pay attention to the needs expressed by his child. What started out for me as righteous anger quickly dissolved into a completely sinful state. I had to figure out an appropriate way to deal with these complicated situations.
1. Go to Confession and reveal my own sinfulness. I have to start with Confession and prayer if I want to be an effective minister to the children entrusted in my care.
2. Change the things I can. I can contacted the Diocese and seek advice about how to help a child who may be in serious harm. As a teacher, I cannot ignore a bad situation and hope that someone else will have the nerve to get involved. As a volunteer of the Church, however, I should not act on my own without specific advice and direction of those in authority over me.
3. Pray for the parents, my students and my own prideful nature. Sacred Scripture reminds us that, “Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous and for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God.” 1Peter 3:18 Who am I to judge other parents? I do not know their hearts and perhaps I do not have all the information. I may not understand their particular circumstances, and I should give them the benefit of the doubt. While I may not be able to change things with my words; my actions and my prayers may bring about change.
4. “Let the little children come to me.” Matt 19:14 As a Christian, I have an obligation to live the example of Christ. I can help these children feel loved and welcomed for whatever time I have with them. I can be available to them, listen to them and assist them when they need help.