Teacher; What does a pig give you? Students: Pork chops, adobo!
Teacher: What does a chicken give you? Students: Eggs, meat!
Teacher: What does the fat cow give you? Students: Homework!
These probably weren’t Filipino students, ‘tho I hear students here are becoming increasingly disrespectful. The point of telling this joke is to convey the idea that everything has a purpose (telos=end, purpose). Pigs. chickens and cows all have a purpose, beyond themselves. The Jesuit priest/scientist Stanley Jaki in his powerful book The Purpose Of It All shows how nature is purposive; everything shows the hand of God making everything to be for something more than mere survival (a precursor of the Intelligent Design challenge to blind evolution creating everything). For instance the earth’s molten core constantly emits energy waves which help protect Earth from destructive radioactive rays of the sun, which is at the exactly right distance, 8 minutes in light-year time, to allow life on earth.
Think for a moment: everything in the body has a purpose, except the appendix and nipples in men so far as we know. The holes in the skull are designed to allow the eyes, ears and nose to develop. The purpose of teeth is to chew food, and the tongue to taste it and help with mastication, and speech. The purpose of the brain is to think and decide, as well as to keep the entire body, including the heart, functioning. The purpose of the whole spinal column is to support everything else. Everything shows purpose, and is needed for something else, e.g., feet, legs, obet, reproductive organs, breasts (vs. .Playboy founder the late Hugh Hefner, who thought they were mainly for men’s entertainment!) Humans themselves have a purpose beyond mere survival and enjoyment of life: To know and serve God, by loving one another, advancing His kingdom.
If everything has a purpose beyond personal survival, what is the divine purpose of parents, especially fathers? To quote Focus on the Family: Parental love requires sacrifice, self-control, attention, instruction, and correction, with a particular focus on connection, which involves prioritizing your schedule, focusing your attention, having patience with imperfections, letting your kid be a kid, and having a willingness to play and laugh.
In my opinion, Filipino families are tending to disintegrate, despite the no divorce law and practice. The main reason? We are all sinners, and fail to love. Just notice the numbers of parents who are now living as single, even if technically married. Notice the increasing naughtiness and defiance of kids in school, the rise of gangs and drugs. While cell phone ads promise to bring people together, such gadgets tend to alienate even more, and can cause brain cancer to boot, especially in children. Again and again one sees families in restaurants using gadgets rather than relating. All of this is also seen in the millions of families where parents—sometimes both—are working overseas.
How do we as parents see our children? Just as objects, things that are there, like the furniture? Or as growing, aspiring, feeling, curious, living beings, made in God’s image, and wanting to know Him and His world, needing our love and involvement? And how do we as parents see ourselves?