Thursday, April 15, 2010

Discernment of a Vocation and Your Parents

Q - The parents of many young men and women my age do not share the same knowledge or understanding of the discernment of God's will for one's vocation as their children. This is particularly true for the discernment of religious life (the Lord knows my mother does not like the idea of me becoming a priest). Being that you are a parent, how would you advise that children speak with their parents about such things, be it the discernment of married or priestly life?

A - Thanks for the question. This can definitely be a touchy subject and sometimes there seem to be conflicting things to think about.

1 - we have to honor our parents - Commandment #4 demands it.

2 - we have to honor God above all people.

So, if you find yourself hesitant to talk to your parents about what you think God may want for you, place it in God's hands and be not afraid.

God has a plan for your life that is more adventurous, more amazing, and more fulfilling than any we could ever draw up. But, do we believe this? Only partially. Fear comes when we do not trust that God's plans could include conflict.

Another way of bluntly putting it is this - don't fear talking to your parents about such things, but rather fear a lack of trust or faith.

With that being said, there are better ways of approaching this subject. No matter what, you are still your parents' child. While in college most parents will still see you as stuck somewhere between a teen and a full-blown adult. They don't quite know how to react to you or treat you. So, you have to tread lightly. Don't throw it in their faces by saying something rude, for example - "MOM, THIS IS GOD'S WILL!!!"

Also, don't presume that you are going to teach or guide your parents into learning about discernment. But, on the other hand, you want to let them know you aren't taking final vows or getting ordained tomorrow - rather it is just another step in figuring out God's will for your life.

You do want to be respectful and truly listen to any concerns they have. Don't just dismiss their concerns either, but take them to prayer and to your spiritual director. Make sure you see where they are coming from and their intent is to help you and desire your good - as they understand it.

Remain calm and patient. Don't disturb them while talking. Try to explain your view if you get a chance and if they are open to it - pray with them.

You are their baby. They love you. They want what is best for you. It is difficult to watch time pass and their baby grow up. Just think about how they used to hold you (as this pic shows I did with my youngest a few short years ago). For many parents it is hard to let go of the dreams they have made for your life. Give them time to do so if they struggle with this.

I hope this helps.


Terrie said...

But, there also are many parents who are praying for their children to be open to a religious vocation. We have to be careful not to be too pushy. So, I just pray for my children to be open to the vocation that God is calling them to.

Defend Us In Battle said...

Good to see this "topic" coming up on blogs. I think that open conversation and prayer are key elements to these conversations, just as they are key elements in discernment overall.