Loving parents love their children, not the sin that damages them

By Michaelyn Hein

Photo by Fancycrave (unsplash.com)

Any good parent knows that the more we love our children, the less we tolerate.

My four-year-old is currently having trouble understanding this concept. “Oh,” she responded yesterday, after I chided her for speaking rudely to her brother. “I guess you don’t love me, because you’re punishing me.”

“It’s because I love you that I’m correcting you,” I answered.

She knitted her brow in confusion. She was apparently still holding fiercely to the belief that anyone who loves her must accept her as she is, without question or criticism.

Our world today is much like my four-year-old. We live in a society that demands acceptance, and even encouragement, of gravely immoral choices. It is a society that requires tolerance of actions that on the surface appear harmless, but in actuality, hurt either the self or others and often, both.

In such a setting, our little ones grow up to be teenagers and adult children, who, sadly and rather often, make choices that we know will hurt them or others. And so, as good parents, we assert our displeasure with what we know will very likely damage them.

Still, when our children grow up, it is at times tempting to fall silent in the face of their perilous decisions. After all, they now have much more control over our relationship. At best, chiding our adult children might result in an ugly argument. At worst, they may threaten to cut us out of their lives indefinitely.

It’s frightening. What will they do? How will they react? Will they completely disregard our concerns? Will they turn away from us? To be honest, it’s sometimes alluring to keep the temporal peace and say little – or even nothing – when we see our loved ones walking the path to peril.

But, better parents than us have demonstrated that keeping quiet in such situations is not what good parents do.

At Fatima, our Blessed Mother did not stay silent. Ever the perfect mother, she saw her children on the road to perdition and, precisely because of her great love for us, she came to warn us of where our behavior would lead should we stay on the path we were following. Her warnings were an act of maternal mercy, for she knew that our Lord could no longer tolerate our very weighty sinfulness.

Her urgent desire to save our souls is evident in the fact that she showed mere children a vision of hell. Indeed, she pressingly cautioned, “If they do what I tell you, many souls will be saved…But, if they do not stop offending God, another even worse war will begin.” She went on to briefly assert that peace would come if her maternal requests were followed, but then she gave far more details about the terrors to come if they were not.

No, it’s not enjoyable to chide our children, but good parents know that it is necessary.

Long before our Blessed Mother, our Father in heaven showed His loving intolerance of His children’s dangerous choices. From the Garden to Gomorrah, God demonstrated his detest for sin and, specifically, His children losing their souls to it. From Mount Sinai to today, He sets limits and boundaries for us. As children, we’re tempted to cry, “That’s not fair! That’s not love!” Indeed, our world today resists in such a way, insisting that a loving God doesn’t punish His children or chain them within boundaries.

But, a good friend of mine responds to that rather succinctly. Our world insists we must be tolerant, and certainly some degree of this is important. “But,” she adds, “we cannot tolerate sin. To do so is to tolerate souls right to hell.” And that, we know, is not love.

What the world doesn’t see – and what we often miss – is that establishing limits is a loving thing to do, and that sometimes punishments save us from a worse fate.

Because of their great love for humanity, our Lord and Blessed Mother don’t shirk these sometimes-unpleasant duties that come with parenthood. Yes, they know that we might turn away. They realize we might rebel. Surely, they are saddened that we might ignore their parental advice completely. But they advise and admonish anyway, because the risk to our souls is too great not to do so. And the rewards to our souls, should we heed their warnings, are too marvelous to keep us from.

It’s trying work, this constant vigilance over not only our own souls, but others’, too. Through the messages of Fatima, however, Our Lady showed us that it is a necessary parental task.

As for my daughter, I am still working to help her understand on some basic level that because I love her, I want heaven for her – and that means that I cannot tolerate anything that would lead her to hell. With persistent prayer, let’s hope that our world will begin to understand this, too.

Michaelyn Hein is a freelance writer, wife and mother, and resides in Hopewell, NJ
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  1. Excellent piece. Thank you.


    • Thank you for your comment, Elizabeth. I’m glad you appreciated the article. God bless you!

  3. What a beautiful article you have written, and so desperately important for people who still have breath left in them. Thank you, and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Our Lord Jesus Christ Precious and Holy Name may our Eternal Father bless you and your family.

    • Gary, thank you so much for your kind words and blessing. I am grateful you enjoyed the article. May God bless you and Our Lady protect you and yours.

  4. thanks so much for such a great, interesting article. How do I approach my two grown sons who are not keeping their sacraments, (including attending Sunday Mass). One of them works every weekend but even before getting this job, he had stopped attending Mass. Any advice that you might have to offer is greatly appreciated.

  5. Yes, Our Lady recommended prayer for sinners (and ourselves, eh?).
    But She also insisted on penance…prayer, penance, and amendment of life.
    And St. Jacinta added: “Mortification and sacrifices greatly please Our Lord.”
    God bless!

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