The Latin verb ducere from which “to educate” comes from means “to guide.” The word is also related to educere, which means “drawing something forth.” The goal of education can be found in its’ etymology. Education is to guide the individual and draw out the best from him.
We are born totally dependent on the care of our parents. We come into the world with an inherent dignity and begin a journey to full perfection. The journey is all about development and that is what education brings to us.
The situation we have today in which many parents do not see themselves as the primary educators of their children is unfortunate. They see the school teacher and the church as the main educators. The consequence is the many ills we have in the society today. It is the duty and the right of parents to educate their children. They are indeed the first and principal educators of their children. This means that the family is the most important place for the growth and development of the child. A lot of parents are having the notion that their major obligation is only to provide the material needs of their children. They do this neglecting the child’s moral and intellectual formation. In the process the child is deformed and ends up without character. Every parent should work against this.
The educational role of parents is so important that a satisfactory substitute is almost impossible to provide. The parents’ duty and right to educate their children should never be appropriated. Neither can it be completely delegated to others. The ills we see in the society are calling for parents to reclaim and own their role as the primary educators of their children.
The church, the school, and other groups assist the parents in their duty to educate. Theirs is a help not a substitute. Both parents are to be active in their task and none should carry it out half-heartedly, or worse still, relinquish it. The sacrament of matrimony is such that God gives the grace to make up for the unavoidable absence of either of the spouses.
Our freedom is God-given. It should however be exercised with responsibility. Children should be educated about this. In doing that, parents should bear in mind that children learn more effectively by what they see and experience in the home than by what they are told. A worthy goal of their education is to balance discipline with freedom. Pope Benedict XVI said, “If no standard of behaviour and rule of life is applied even in small daily matters, the character is not formed and the person will not be ready to face the trials that will come in the future.” We know that intelligent and schooled individuals who abuse their freedom pose a menace to the society. Successful education should impart the right use of freedom. A child should be formed interiorly for the proper exercise of freedom. This strengthens his personality and makes him mature, secure, and free. He is enabled with the strength of character to go against the current when necessary.
Parents should also pass on their faith in God. Faith is a bond with God. The Christian life offers the path to happiness and frees us from the sadness of existing without God. It is by totally entrusting ourselves to God that we find true freedom.
The importance of parents properly educating their children cannot be overemphasized. When they fail in this responsibility of forming their children, others will do it. Children learn more than ever from the social media today. This should urge parents to teach good values fearlessly. For example, when parents insist on honesty and service leading with their example, a child learns that such values are not trivial matters. But when parents fail to insist on those values, the child will not take them seriously and may conclude that since his parents do not practice them, they belong to the past.
Bringing up a child properly formed is a supernatural task. With the grace of God, parents can do it successfully.