As the arrival of our first child grows nearer with each passing day, I feel the increasing weight of the responsibility that comes with raising a child in the Faith. Labor, delivery, learning to care for another human being seem like such small tasks in comparison to guiding a soul towards truth. My spiritual Father reminded me recently that the task has already begun, even now. As soon as this babe’s ears formed the task began. Every time I attend the services, my child attends them with me. Every morning and evening as I say my prayers, this child becomes familiar with them. The tones I use with my husband, even my thoughts. The choices I make no longer affect just me. Each time I skip out on prayers or a service I’m showing this child that something else is more important, a hobby, rest. Even now I’m building a foundation for my child, that starts with me. Today
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Elder Porphyrios on Nurturing Children:
“What saves and makes for good children is the life of the parents in the home. The parents need to devote themselves to the love of God. They need to become saints in their relations to their children through their mildness, patience, and love. They need to make a new start every day, with a fresh outlook, renewed enthusiasm and love for their children. And the joy that will come to them, the holiness that will visit them, will shower grace on their children. Generally the parents are to blame for the bad behavior of the children. And their behaviour is not improved by reprimands, disciplining, or strictness. If the parents do not pursue a life of holiness and if they don’t engage in spiritual struggle, they make great mistakes and transmit the faults they have within them. If the parents do not live a holy life and do not display love towards each other, the devil torments the parents with the reactions of the children. Love, harmony and understanding between parents are what are required for the children. This provides a great sense of security and certainty.”
The above selection is from Wounded by Love: The Life and Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios, trans. by John Raffan (Limni, Evia, GRE: Denise Harvey, Publisher, 2005), 196.