COLLEGE PARK, MD –
Last week we searched for where to find family success.
There are some important follow-up points related to the topic. Let’s pick up right where we left off.
While physical tasks are nice to fulfill for our parents, we can’t lose sight of the bigger task we must fulfill to properly care for them: playing our role.
Some time ago we looked at three roles we play at various points in our lives: spectator, gladiator, and commentator.
The greatest gift we can give to ourselves and the world is to play the proper role at the proper time. It sounds easy, and when a family is clicking on all cylinders it can be, but it requires great investment in one another in order to get to that point.
Once children (spectators at first) come of age, they must be willing to accept their role in the arena as gladiators.
Parents must invest in their children in order to prepare them for the arena, and, importantly, be willing to retire from the arena to the commentators’ booth when the time for succession approaches.
This is a transition; it takes time. It must start before the need is acute, so that once it is the leadership transfer can come to its culmination steadily and without a need for extreme measures.
Both parties play a role in the (success)ion of the family. If one party refuses to play their role they leave a great hole and vulnerability in the family structure.
If a child comes of age and refuses to take up his or her role as gladiator in the arena of life, he or she will be leaving their parents to keep fighting the battle when they are no longer in a position to do so effectively.
The result is usually arrested development for the family in that scenario. The family stops growing properly and ends up in an immature state.
If parents do not exit the arena when it is time to pass the baton to their children, the arena will be filled with too many gladiators and no clear leaders. This scenario usually ends up in mutiny.
The children that were never passed the reigns of leadership will resent it and the family will fight itself instead of the productive battles of life that lead to growth and succession.
If one or both of those scenarios occur, filial piety is very hard to achieve.
Children in these scenarios turn to fulfilling individual goals and desires in the absence of a family structure to fit into.
Parents in these situations are left fending for themselves, with no agents to do their bidding in the arena during the twilight of their lives.
Both parents and children must understand that the injunction to treat our parents well is not a license for parents to guilt-trip children or for children to just blindly “obey” their parents.
It is rather the key to a healthy family. Our well-being and happiness very much depend on it.
We have no choice but to get ahead of the curve on this issue and set our families up for success. Sadly, most families today are not succeeding between generations and the diaspora of individualism is growing larger and larger.
It is a difficult topic because we cannot solve it on our own. It requires buy-in from all members of a family.
If God doesn’t will for that buy-in among all our family members, we should keep striving to set affairs right and beg for Him to open the door of acceptance to us if He has chosen not to open the door of obedience.
What striving looks like differs from situation to situation. It is not always pretty, but it is always worth it.
Let’s take stock of the direction our family is moving in and make sure we are all playing our roles for success.
That success starts and ends with filial piety, and the achievement of that lofty goal is a two-way street between parents and children.