The School of Humanity

They divided up the lot fair and square and began playing happily together. This drove our son bananas! He wanted all the dinosaurs, now, and only in his formations. He ended up screaming his signature phrase, “Christopher do it!” while Daddy escorted him out for a reprimand. It was nearly killing him to share. Up to that point, it had been easy to share with six month-old Peter, who was content to chew on whatever toy Christopher deigned to bring him, which of course was never the one Christopher wanted at the moment.

We experienced first-hand why John Paul II says the family is “the first and irreplaceable school of social life,” and why Vatican II calls the family a “school of deeper humanity.” On our drive home, mortified by the behavior of our Family Life Toddler, we both agreed: He needs more brothers and sisters. Let's get that enrollment up.

The Church is so right when she calls us to be “generous in the service of life.” We've realized before how beneficial this teaching is for married couples, encouraging selflessness and trust in God, but we're just beginning to learn how good it is for our children. That's why the Holy Father, on his first visit to the U.S., said to all of us parents:

“Decisions about the number of children and the sacrifices to be made for them must not be taken only with a view to adding to comfort or preserving a peaceful existence … it is certainly less serious to deny children certain comforts or material advantages than to deprive them of the presence of brothers and sisters.”

Furthermore, the Church tells us that an openness to life is a key to fostering vocations: “A lack of vocations follows from the breakdown of the family, yet where parents are generous in welcoming life, children will be more likely to be generous when it comes to the question of offering themselves to God” (Truth and Meaning #34).

Something else to consider… All parents agonize over how best to discuss and encourage chastity in their teenagers. We're thinking about the teen years already, and we still have 10 more years to go. In the church document The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, an excellent guide by the Pontifical Council for the Family on proper chastity education, we're reminded that chastity formation begins in the very early years. “Chastity cannot exist without the capacity to renounce self, to make sacrifices, and to wait.” What child has not had to renounce self, make sacrifices, and wait for a sibling on almost a daily basis? Sounds exactly like what happens when a new baby enters the family!

Being generous in the service of life can also mean being open to adoption or foster care. There are so many children in need! What a perfect way for couples who are childless, who have grown children, or who have been blessed financially to respond to the Church's call.

The kicker to our trip was that when we were on our way out the door, the eldest son gave Christopher one of his dinosaurs to take home. Our son's eyes widened in disbelief. We could almost hear his little brain thinking, “He's actually giving me one of his dinosaurs? This does not compute!”

Yes, enrollment needs to go up in our little School of Deeper Humanity. We'll keep you posted.

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