“After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, `You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” The Gospel, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
On January 9, in his homily following the reading of the Gospel, the priest at the mass I attended noted that when God declared his approval for his son, Jesus had not yet performed any miracles or, in fact, had much of a resume. None of that mattered. What God made clear was his love, his unconditional love, for his son.
What a lesson for parents! We should love our children for who they are, not for what they have accomplished. We need that reminder now more than ever.
Our children are suffering and have been for more than two years while our nation, in fact, the world, battles a pandemic. Social animals, young people have spent more time out of the classroom, learning virtually, separated from their friends. No matter where they are in school, important milestones are being missed. There are fewer chances to perform in a play or show a college coach athletic ability. Graduation parties? Proms? Not like the celebrations we remember.
College is not the learning and social experience so many students anticipated. Imagine taking out those huge college loans only to sit in front of a computer to take classes remotely. Interaction with other students? Professors? Lost. A recent article in the New York Times said that colleges across the country are facing a mental health crisis, with “a troubling spate of suicides.”
Let’s not forget about young adults, those who began careers only to find those opportunities slip away. Buying a house? Getting married? Having children? Goals that once seemed a given now are out of reach.
Each day I hear about children, no matter if they are GenX, Millennial, or GenZ, who are depressed, anxious, afraid. With gaps in the learning process, whether in the classroom or the workplace, these young people are falling behind. They worry about graduating, getting into law, medical, or business school, landing that first job, being let go rather than being given a promotion. Those who have been working on the front lines during Covid – in the health care and service industries – are exhausted. Many have already quit, while others are reevaluating their career choices.
As so many of us know, parenting never ends. And the old adage, “small children, small problems, big children, big problems,” still holds. As older adults, we are under pressure and stressed out, too, so it’s difficult to get through the day ourselves, let alone worry about our children. But that’s what we need to do now. We need to remind our children that they are loved for themselves and that we are there for them.
The moment doesn’t need to be dramatic, no booming voice from heaven. We can offer reassurance in a phone call or text. We can do more listening rather than talking. We can put aside our own expectations for our children and focus on what truly matters – loving them unconditionally knowing deep in our hearts that they are doing the best they can during truly horrific times. That accomplishment itself is a true miracle.
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