As we celebrated the 2nd World Day of Grandparents and Elders on Sunday, July 24th, we thought we'd take advantage and share a portion of Chapter Seven on Family from Stephen Gabriel's newest book Hope For Your Grandchildren: Talking to the Third Generation about What Matters.
My Dear Grandchildren,
Reflecting on family and family life after seventy years of life, I have a perspective that you could not have at this point in your life. So I'll share that perspective with you and encourage you to take it to heart and consider it as you navigate the sometimes-turbulent waters of your own family life.
Your nuclear family (Mom and Dad, brothers, and sisters) help provide you with an identity that should be a great source of security and peace. This is the school of love in which you are meant to thrive.
Your mother and father love you with a love that vou cannot possibly understand until you yourself are a parent. I remember when your grandmother and I were expecting our first child. I was in graduate school at the time, and we were excited and filled with anticipation. I'm not sure I can fully describe the
feeling. My life would never be the same. When he was born, I experienced a certain vulnerability. I felt my heart might explode. This wasn't just a function of experiencing something new. The love of a child has a character that is different from the love of anyone else. Regardless of the number of children we have, each child is unrepeatable and is the object of a unique love. And this love persists all our life. Remember this love is there in spite of the struggles your mom and dad have to be good parents. They're not perfect. They have defects just like you. So try to be patient with them when they lose their temper or seem not to listen or when you feel they simply don't understand you. They're trying. And remember that they love you more deeply than you can possibly grasp.
Although it may not always seem like it, your siblings are gifts from God. They truly are. They've been given to you to be your companions at home. And you have been given to each other to look out for each other outside of your home. They've also been given to you to help you to grow in virtue. They provide you with opportunities to grow in patience and generosity. Living in a family with your brothers and sisters pro- vides the setting for truly learning how to love. Love is a choice. It's not a feeling. We know that our love is real when it's sacrificial. When we love someone, we give of ourselves. So, when you cheerfully put up with an annoying brother or sister and treat him or her with kindness even though you might like to do something quite different, that's loving!