Pope Francis addressed parents during his weekly audience Wednesday, strongly emphasizing that it is their role to educate their children, not that of “intellectual critics” who may try to take the place of parents, ousting them from their proper role.
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis told parents their role in the education of their children is “an essential characteristic” of the family. The pope was strongly critical of so-called experts who have “silenced” parents in their roles as heads of their families and disciplinarians due to fears, whether real or fabricated.
The pope continued that such “intellectual critics” have formed a wedge between parents and their own children, “even in the most delicate and personal aspects of their lives.” This state of affairs, said the pontiff, has led to a situation in which parents are even afraid to discipline their own children, leaving this important aspect of parenting to the experts instead.
Furthermore, the pope said the problem of parents spending less time with their children has led to schools taking on a more prominent role in their lives, even in the formation of their values and philosophy of life.
Though the pontiff encouraged a positive working relationship between parents and teachers, he clearly urged parents to embrace what he considers to be their primary responsibility of raising their children.
Recalling an event in his own life when, as a child, he said an inappropriate word to his teacher, the pope said that when his mother was told of the incident, she went to the school and made him apologize to his teacher, and then later disciplined him when they returned home. The pope said this situation would not even occur today, since parents often disapprove of teachers who attempt to discipline students for misbehavior.
According to the English-language summary of his address, Pope Francis said it is “the vocation of families to educate their children, to raise them in the profound human values which are the backbone of a healthy society.”
“Our children need sure guidance in the process of growing in responsibility for themselves and others,” he added.