the parents prayer

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Most Loving Father, the example of parenthood, teach us what to give and what to withhold. 
Show us when to reprove and when to praise. 
Make us gentle and considerate yet firm and watchful. 
Keep us from weak indulgence, or from great severity. 
Give us the courage to be disliked sometimes by our children, when we must do necessary things which are displeasing in their eyes. 
Give us the imagination to enter into their world in order to understand and guide them. 
Give us all the virtues we need to lead them by word and example in the path of righteousness.


This prayer lives among my favorite writings on parenting. 

I appreciate the measured nature of the prayer - this is not a prayer for redemption or perfection, but a plain request for help in finding balance. And then it gives parents a simple, largely secular framework for finding that sweet spot - between indulgence and severity, between wonder and necessary displeasure. You don't have to be Catholic to find this advice useful. At least I didn't have to be Catholic to find this advice useful. 

Of course, I'd add a few more tidbits...

Free us from punishing ourselves for our mistakes, so that our children can learn how to be kind to themselves as well as to others.

Bless us with love and respect for other parents who may make different choices than we do. Help us to keep our mouths shut when tempted, from short temper or a crap night of sleep, to tear down someone who is struggling.

Give us the perspective to appreciate each day's blessings and challenges, since children can be counted on for an abundance of both. Keep us young enough to delight in the silliness of children, and old enough to weather their emotional storms without panic.

Give us the confidence to measure ourselves against nobody else. Remind us that our insides cannot be compared to anyone else's outsides. 

Protect our precious cargo on onramps and icy roads.

Liberate us from embarrassment or apology when telling new people about our roles in our family.

Help us to be patient with our partners, who do not do things the way we do. Remind us that we are not the only parents in the family, and that we would not rob our partners of the right to form their own unique relationships, traditions, and ways of doing things.

Help us to be thoughtful and intuitive, open to new ideas and loyal to our own hearts.

Bless us with long memories.



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