Thursday, November 12, 2015

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos) on Raising Children

Arabic original here.

Raising Children in the Family

Saint Porphyrios says, "Children's upbringing begins from the moment of their conception. The fetus hears and feels when he is in his mother's womb." A mother must pray much during the period of pregnancy. What sanctifies children and makes them good is their parents' life in the home. Children's behavior is directly connected to the state of the family.

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Prayer in the family, in the house and in the church makes a child feel secure because prayer goes into the heart. It is very useful for the family to gather together with the children in order to pray together. A child must be trained to participate with his parents in prayer, even if it is for only a little part or a hymn that he has learned by heart. It is very useful for a child to see his father and mother praying in front of him. This picture in childhood will not leave him during his entire life.

Children today need people who provide them with a model and with prayer. Everything happens through prayer, silence and love: much prayer and little talking for children. If we constantly give them advice, them we will become overbearing to them. Family should not pressure children in order to make them good by force. We must let God speak in their souls. In the Book of Wisdom, Solomon says, "One who watches for Wisdom (i.e., Christ) at dawn will not be disappointed, for she will be found sitting at the gate" (Wisdom of Solomon 6:14) that is, present near him. A good upbringing in the Lord from infancy causes children not to be influenced by any of the bad influences coming from their surroundings.

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There is no doubt that the priest has an important role in raising children spiritually, culturally and socially. Today children are absorbed with the lures of worldly things, with consumer society and with attractive modern technology. A priest must know in his wisdom how to guide a child along with his family, so that they will not drown in this consumerist social vortex. He must earn the family's trust, making him a spiritual father to every member of the family. Then they consult him in matters relating to the children and their problems at home, in church and at school. He must make use of knowledge of pedagogy and psychology relating to children and the family.

Here we want to call attention to and stress what what Saint Paisios advised about raising children, in terms of both family and priests. That is, providing the virtue of devotion (philotimia), which requires sacrifice, persistence and patience alongside instruction and guidance so that we may attain healing from all the maladies of sin.

So let us resemble the Lord Jesus Christ who " went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people" (Matthew 9:35).

By the grace of the Holy Spirit, this virtue of devotion makes the one who possesses it into a saint who is capable, by the healing power of the Lord Jesus, to comfort others, cause them to grow, and make them holy. 

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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