Teaching the Way of Love (TWL) is a program for Catholic parents that encourages and empowers them to embrace their role as the primary educators of their children, especially in the areas of moral and personal development.

Yes They Will Falter

Then he said, “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. The younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance... When he had freely spent everything he found himself in dire need. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
Luke 15:11-20

Spoiler alert; no matter how hard you try to guide your children through life and prepare their way to Heaven,
your children are going to falter and disappoint you. They are going to exercise their free will and make choices that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Despite your guidance and example, they may hang with undesirable friends, experiment with drugs and alcohol and/or become sexually active well before marriage. In some cases, the consequences from their poor choices may be minor and easily corrected. But in others, the results may be life-altering.

This reality – that every child is capable of sinning – causes parents to worry, lose sleep and feel totally helpless. Sin wounds human nature and injures a family’s harmony. It leads to isolation rather than unity and that can result in suspicion, doubt and secrecy. Sin has the power to separate a child from the love of a mother and father. It is real and its impact can be frightening.

Everyone knows that sin causes pain, but few people actually know what sin is or why it is so deadly. Sin is an offense against God. It turns one’s heart away from God and His love. Bad things are bound to happen when a person is separated from God who is the source of true love. The demise may not be immediate but it is inevitable.

If sin is the path to agony, why do we continue to do what is against God’s will? The simple answer is we have a fallen nature. Our fallen nature is the consequence of original sin which makes us prefer ourselves and our ways to God’s love and his ways. It makes us think that we can find what is right and good all by ourselves. God becomes unnecessary because we think we already have the right answers. Acting without God’s guidance moves us away from what is best for us. When we choose to place ourselves over God or do things against God, we sin.

Our fallen nature clouds our reasoning and distorts our ability to see an action for what it really is. Instead of perceiving sin as something deadly, we see sin as attractive and fun. This is called temptation; the act of enticement; the promise of a sheep that is really a wolf. It is the first step towards sin; the step that the devil hopes we will take. Just read the first three chapters of the Bible to see how the devil deceived our first parents in this way. If Adam and Eve could fall, so can we.

It is unrealistic to think that you are going to stop your child from making mistakes and from going against what is right and good. But it is absolutely realistic to think that you can moderate the magnitude of any mistakes through guidance and resolve. The goal is not to cover up the sin or deny that sin is possible. The goal is to address the sin and, by doing so, identify the life lesson that God intends you and your child to learn. By doing so, you help your child bear the fruit of personal responsibility and self-discipline.

One last point should be made. Parents must also remember that when a child falls, they must be there to help them get back up and move forward on the right path. Parents must never abandon their children, especially when times become rough and life stops making sense. It is exactly at this moment that parents must fortify themselves with the strength and power of God so that they love the sinner and detest the sin. Yes, they will falter. And, yes, you will help pull them through the darkness. God is counting on you to bring them back into his love and light.

Workbook

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