Some while back, I did a homily about the wounds that we carry with us in life. Sometimes we never heal and we suffer the effects of the wounds in so many ways. As I gave examples during the homily, one of the wounds that I talked about was the Father Wound. I said that there are grown men and women who suffer from a father wound in their hearts and minds. Father wounds caused by dads who left the children -- perhaps abandoning the marriage. Father wounds caused by addiction or abuse. And how well I remember this when I talked about those who had fathers who never learned to say they loved their kids. I happened to look over at a man sitting near enough that I could tell this: I saw tears running down his cheeks. Oh gosh could I understand. Oh gosh did I want to share with that fellow about how much God the Father loves us -- and that healing from wounds only comes about when we learn to accept the brokenness around us, pray for the healing of memories and the deceased or separated ones -- and then to move on. Easier said than done, for sure.
We are continually combatting the effects of original sin in our lives. Sometimes we are the broken ones -- and at times, the brokenness of others messes up a chunk of our lives. One kind of wound area that I know about for a couple reasons is the woundedness that happens when a child doesn’t have (enough) self-esteem or for some reason, doesn’t receive or ‘hear’ the praise and appreciation of those around the child. Some children may be deeply needy in this area even in the midst of a normal family environment.
Perhaps some parents praise their children a little too much praise or feel-good actions. Society sometimes seems to get a little overboard. For example, I just shake my head when I see school activities and sports that don’t give grades or winners. You may not agree - but I see this as foolishness in the name of making everyone feel good. When a football coach threw me into a defensive linebacker position one time -- it only took a couple downs for me to recognize that I needed much more training. I wasn’t an athlete then -- certainly not later or now :-).
Parents and teachers ought to make positive observations. How neat that a child hears and recognizes that s/he has prepared well, done well, learned well or tried exceptionally well. I think this is true in small things too. "Hey Eric, thanks for putting away the unused silverware -- that’s great."
I also believe gentle correction is important for later growth and function in society. One time when I was perhaps 6 or 7 years of age, my parents allowed me to stay with my grandparents for a while. At the supper table one night -- I reached my fork out to take the last pork sausage on the serving platter. "Wait a minute, Tommy. It’s polite to ask if anyone else is hungry our would like to split that with you." I pulled my fork back and said, "Would anyone like that last sausage?" Of course little freckled face Tommy finished that meat and has remembered that mild correction till this day.
I saw in a column by Mary Lou Gorman that ‘psychologists tell us that actions that are rewarded, even with a smile or a word, are actions that tend to be repeated.’
We have so many areas that tear us down in society that our children and even our young adults need to have the reinforcement of love and appreciation for good actions or wise decisions.
Father Larry Richards often brings up the type of man who says "I don’t need to tell my wife or kids I love them... they know it." And Father says, "Wham across the head. Don’t you dare let a day go by without telling those around you that you love them." And I include telling them about the good they’ve done.
Jesus notices the good things you do. It makes Him smile and His smile comes to you as grace and sometimes positive reinforcement. Our children are His children. Let’s treat them as Jesus treats us.
And in conclusion to this topic -- you may consider reading some of the writings of either St. Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower) or Catherine Doherty of Madonna House. These women teach ways and concepts for doing good even when it’s not noticed or appreciated. A little bit later in the raising of children or grandchildren -- the beauty of good deeds done and not noticed is so much more powerful and holy.
Happy Summering. Blessings.
Copyright 2010 Deacon Tom Fox
About the Author
Deacon Tom Fox and his wife Dee are co-hosts of the CATHOLIC VITAMINS Podcast for over 6 1/2 years. Tom has also been a member of the Catholic Mom columnists team for eight years, and was a regular contributor to the Catholic Moments Podcast for three years. Most recently, Deacon Tom has been leading a project to bring Catholic radio to the north central Arizona community where he and Dee reside. Blessings!