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Reflections (1)

         Do they have parents?

                                                               Marcel Goffart, cicm

In the springtime of last year, March 2016, we planned a parents’ meeting. “Oh no, said a teacher, you bring those problem-people together and they will fight!” But after a discussion we agreed to do so.

After a few months, during summer, we invited the parents. But of course, they would come single. Some are divorced, some are widows, some ran away from home with their child, and some are grand-mothers, living alone, caring for their grand-children. Maybe a few could come as a pair, mother and father.

Expectations and concern of parents

In fact, there were only five people who came. Not many? A good start! We learned a lot about their expectations and frustrations. One mother complained: “When Wei Wei my son comes home from your care-center, he has never finished his home-work and gets bad grades in school!”

Our teacher explained: “When I push him to work, he gets blocked, stares at the wall and starts crying. So, first I chat with him until he feels my concern, and then I ask him to write only the first paragraph, or to solve only the first Math-assignment. I don’t mention the next.” The mother replied: “That is why he never finishes!” The teacher answered: “Better to finish a part, than to get nervous and mix everything up, write mistakes and get home frustrated.” What the teacher did not say but thought to herself is: “At home they call him stupid and useless. They don’t cuddle him, nor congratulate him for some job well done.”

After a few words, the mother could reluctantly accept the teacher’s view. At least this mother is concerned with her child. She will learn more. But she, like her son, feels the pressure of a single-parent home.

Another mother said: “My girl A-Ren was very shy before and was afraid of me, and even hid from me. After she came to our Saint Theresa Care Center for some time, she could tell stories about how she fought with a boy here. Now we often talk together.”

Concern for their human growth

I was happy to learn that our children improve their relations at home, even when we ourselves do not see it happening. Our “Children-After-School-Activity-Center” can help the children improve at school, but what we are more working at is their wholesome human growth, their happiness though living in a wounded family, their understanding of real moral values and even religious values: “God is a loving God.” So they get the courage to face social and economic shortages.

While school and home may think that the value of a child is in his/her school-results, we, our teachers and I know that in a broken family the first need is to regain happiness through, at least, some love and so get the courage as to accept the limits of daily life, and to keep one’s self esteem. School results can come later!

In our Care-Center we see the children confront other children, all different from each other: some are lovely, some violent, some are talkative and some shy. By and by, they learned to accept each other, refrain from fighting and so indirectly to accept their already wounded parents.

The only father in the meeting started to cry while sharing his concerns: “My two little sons are doing well at school and, in your After-School-Class, as you know. But I am alone to lead my family. After my wife divorced me, she went to a small restaurant to work for herself, and to send money abroad to her own family.

I come home at night very late and still have to check whether my sick father has been duly cared for. I never see my children at night: they are already sleeping. In the morning, I prepare breakfast and we eat together. This is my happiest time of the day. And then I go to work again.” 

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