Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 13, 2009
Husbands, wives must care for each other
Michael and Catherine Pakaluk offered tips for having a strong family life.
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
The relationship between husband and wife requires about the same amount of time to maintain as the relationship with God, says an American professor.
Couples, however, usually neglect their own relationship "because of the demands of service to the children," laments Dr. Michael Pakaluk, an author and professor of philosophy at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences in Arlington, Va.
Speaking at the Catholic Family Life Conference July 2-5, Pakaluk said husband and wife have to take care of each other because they are the foundation of friendship in the family.
Pakaluk spoke about the role of friendship in the family. His wife Catherine, a Catholic writer and lecturer, served as his "sidekick."
To maintain a healthy relationship, married couples must talk often, have something like a recollection once a month, spend a day together once a month, go on a date once a week and get away alone once a year.
In the talk, the Pakaluks identified three different kinds of friendships in the family: the association of the husband and the wife, the association of the children and the association of the parents with the children.
Each of these friendships has their own nature and each has to be given its own attention.
FRIENDSHIPS WITH A CHILD
Friendship between parents and children is difficult.
"You really can't be friends with a young child because there is no equality," Michael Pakaluk said. "(Moreover) the child doesn't understand. It's not supposed to understand. You are supposed to give instructions and say 'Do this because I say so.'"
The Pakaluks said a lot of mistakes are made by parents trying to be friends with their kids. "That's going to backfire (because) it's impossible for the parents to exercise the authority that they need to exercise."
As the children become young adults it's easier to form a friendship with them.
"You have raised a good child if he becomes a good friend as an adult," Michael Pakaluk said. "But it has to start with the parents leading the way and giving instructions and very clear directions."
When children are small, "you don't give reasons" for your decisions, the Pakaluks recommend.
"But as the child gets older you give more and more reasons. And that's the right way for a child to obey a parent," Michael said. "As the child gets older you give more and more reasons until eventually you are going to be dealing with a young adult.
A STEP AHEAD
"When you raise a child you have to have in mind the adult you want your child to be. So be a step ahead, always giving a little bit more responsibility to the child."
If you treat the child as younger than he or she is, you get rebellion and resentment. "Be a step ahead treating the child a little bit older than he really is."
Another goal is fostering friendship of children among themselves. "You are successful not only if they are your friends but if your children are friends with one another," Michael Pakaluk said. "Like everything else, it doesn't happen automatically. First of all, you have to tell them about it, like it's a virtue: We want you to be friends."
Children have to know how friendships are formed. "Friendships are formed by doing acts of kindness for other people, by accepting their burdens as if they were your own burdens, by not offending them, by not being obnoxious towards them. This has to be part of parental instruction."
When kids are quite little they share nothing in common, except for love for their parents, noted Catherine Pakaluk. "Parents don't understand that. They want their children to be close but maybe they are not close."
When parents are not close or argue a lot, the children pick sides, which can create divisions between children that the parents don't intend, she said.
"The parents really need to strive for unity. Of course, they are going to have disagreements but as much as possible they have to take that field or argument and disagreement away from the presence of the children."