The Eight Beatitudes of Healthy Families
(Holy Family Sunday 2018)
Rather than assuming, projecting or bemoaning the fact that there are flaws and tensions in your own family-of-origin or in the families that we ourselves have fathered or mothered, or in our workplace or social networks, I’d like to propose eight homespun beatitudes or pearls of wisdom that I truly believe about BEING FAMILY:
1. Parents do not love all of their children equally. But I do think that most parents try to love each of their children appropriately, based on that child’s own unique personality and needs. Some children are more insecure from birth and need extra love. Some are disabled or handicapped and draw on a parent for more care. Others seem more independent and don’t crave as much affection. Parents try their best to love us not equally, but appropriately.
2. Yes, our mother or father may be the root cause of some of our pain, shortcomings, or dysfunctions. But at some point we have to move on. Knowing that they hurt us or made some mistakes is not a license to pout for the rest of our lives. Name it, deal with it, learn from it, and move on with your life.
3. Moms and Dads will always have a parental feeling toward their children, but, and here’s the learning, “You’ve gotta’ cut the apron strings!” You can’t control your adult child. You can’t make them change their ways. Let go! Your tendency to control may be at the core of
4. At some point honoring our mothers and fathers no longer means “obeying them” or “telling them everything that happens in our lives.” Put succinctly, “Flying from the nest is a good thing.” Learning to live with our parents adult-to-adult is a wonderful experience if we can manage the transition from being their little boy or girl.
5. Loving one’s relatives or friends is not identical with liking everybody or wanting to spend a lot of time together. Within the extended family or office complex or among our circle of friends, we do not all have to like each other in order to love and care about one another. Getting everyone under one roof for a meal or party is not always a good or an advisable thing. Love needs some breathing room, some elbow room.
6. Family tensions or squabbles may not be pleasant, but they may be the place where we learn the most – how to be patient, not to control, how to forgive, or how to humbly admit our mistakes and seek forgiveness. Hard lessons are learned in the crucible of real families.
7. We can only control the amount or measure of love we ‘give out.’ We cannot force or control the amount of love we will ‘get’ from others. So be generous and enjoy giving love, not counting on a specific return on your investment.
8. Mary said it to the angel and the Beatles sang it: “Let it be.” Sometimes Little Bo Peep’s advice is wise: “Leave them alone.” Or as A.A. folks phrase it, “Let go and let God.”
We each are a member of various HOLY FAMILIES, not perfect people or perfect families, but
real, potentially lovable, and watched over by God, every step of the way. That’s what H-O-L-Y means.
Fr. Dick Sparks, C.S.P.