Parenthood as a Charism
By Phillip Garside
All of us know the “parent-child relationship” from the child’s end. The target audience of this blog would do well to remember that their charism and gift to the church is to know that relationship from the parent’s end. It is our gift to experience all of the misfires and victories of parenthood and then impart that experience to every aspect of the church that uses the paternal and maternal analogy.
For example, the ordained have a foundational analogy of fatherhood bound to their vocation, but the vast majority have only ever known natural parenthood from the child’s point of view. As parents, it seems clear that our children’s experiences of nurturing and protection are quickly overshadowed by their experience of discipline and restrictions. “You’re always telling me what to do!!” is one of my children’s favorite refrains.
For those who grow to never have children of their own, this formative experience of parenthood as harsh disciplinarian may be hard to disassociate from.
The celibate ordained cannot learn the depth of parental compassion from intuition and experience. They will not experience the effect it has on a relationship when one party is an utterly dependent being, which has sprung from the other’s body. They must be “instructed” as to what parenthood truly involves. The process of this instruction is as longitudinal as the process of learning to be a good parent itself.
The sum is this – form good friendships with the ordained. Our vocations form a complex web of mutual edification.