"..do we lead and teach and live by good, silent, natural, sincere EXAMPLE rather than by endless nagging and criticism and sermons? "
~ a reaction to "A Letter To Suzanne"
A Mother Speaks
Dear Father Juni,
My name is Mrs. XENIA J. CAÑADA.
I am a retired public school teacher and I am a mother of eight. I look forward to reading your column every Sunday. I was especially touched by your Mother’s Day piece entitled “A LETTER TO SUZANNE’’.
Please allow me to share a few of my thoughts and feelings with you and your readers.
Your letter is really masterful and beautiful in what you say, and how you say it.
I suppose there is a bit of selfish Suzanne in every child. But there is also a bit of the opposite of Suzanne in every child.
Do you remember, Father Juni, when you and I were growing up — there was a certain FATHER FLANAGAN, the founder of BOYS’ TOWN — it was his firm belief that there is NO bad boy — there is no bad boy — only bad environment, bad elders, bad authority figures, bad parents and bad teachers.
Even ‘Bad’ children are inherently good. It was HOW they were brought up that was bad. But in themselves, they are good.
There is no bad boy, there is no bad girl.
We may or we may not agree with Father Flanagan, but perhaps we should pause and really examine ourselves and see, in the presence of God, where we may have failed, and where we can improve, in helping make the Suzannes in our lives less bad, and more good.
Are we totally negative, or predominantly negative in our relationship with our children?
Do we only point out their mistakes and not their successes? Do we fail to praise them when they try to do their best ?
Do we tell them only that they disappoint us, and do not tell them that they delight us and make us proud, and make us happy by simply being themselves?
And do we lead and teach and live by good, silent, natural, sincere EXAMPLE rather than by endless nagging and criticism and sermons?
Do we decide together and do things together, and enjoy together? Do we encourage and respect participation? Or do we selfishly dominate and dictate? (I just noticed— everything I am saying about the parent and her children should also be said of the Priest and his congregation. And the Bishop and his flock.)
Do we REALLY believe that goodness and God are STILL present in all children, even PROBLEM children ?
That LOVE can still come forth and shine forth, that we are not totally bad, nor hopeless, but that our real self, our noblest self, is just waiting for its surfacing, its blossoming its healing its resurrection, to be made possible only by YOUR genuine faith and hope and love?
And do we really LISTEN? And do we WAIT ? To listen and to wait take a lot of humility, and patience, and respect, and faith, and love.
It requires a lot of time, and a lot of trust. But unless we really listen to our children, and wait for them, we consider them unimportant, not worthwhile enough.
We must always remember that the situation in our family, is NOT a war, we against them, and they against us. We are all together, all members of one family, and our mutual and fundamental connectedness is grounded on the fact that life and God have placed us together, that we are fundamentally with and for each other, and we are all gifts -- meant for each other, We achieve true greatness and real fulfillment within the context of the one family God has given us.
Finally, may I add a couple more insights, gained from a lifetime of mothering and a lifetime of teaching? Ma y I give some tips, some little suggestions that might help bring out the best and the noblest qualities and selves of our children and students?
They feel just like you and I feel.
I feel happy when I am thanked, when I am praised, when I am acknowledged and rewarded by my parent, my family, my teacher, and my boss my Priest.
I feel secure if I live within an atmosphere of faith.... if I pray together with my family. If my mother and my father sincerely and genuinely communicate with God and Jesus Christ; if they are habitually aware of the omnipresence of God and of the spiritual and the supernatural.
I feel accepted and affirmed if my uniqueness and differentness are accepted and honored and cherished by my parents and my loved ones.
And I feel great if I am reminded by daily EXAMPLE that the meaning of life is service and sharing, and helping those who need help.
And finally I am truly happy if the atmosphere of peace and forgiveness and acceptance and trust and LOVE do pervade and reign in the hearts of my mother and father and brother and sister—and Priest.
We cannot drag our children to heaven — we can only go ahead of them, and invite them in — very gently.
Thank you, Father Juni.
May God always bless you and guide you!
Mrs. Xenia J. Cañada
Mansilingan, Bacolod City