On the feast of St. Joseph I’m really going to write for our parents who are reading. I went to a half-day session about junior high ministry. It was facilitated by Bob Rice and was an enjoyable, enlightening, and refreshing way to spend a day. We opened that day with the passage we have available to us from the Gospel of Luke. Here are the particular lines I’d like to draw our attention to: “his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’ And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he said to them.” Surely there is some mystery here, but in all fairness, the line, “But they did not understand what he said to them” is as likely due to the fact that he is an adolescent as it is that he is God incarnate. This should give us tremendous hope, for even God was a teenager! So let’s look at what the Holy family can teach us.
First, it can be comforting to know that Jesus and his parents didn’t always speak the same language. Between Christ’s semi-cryptic answer at the end and his complete non-answer in the beginning, we can be reassured to know that communication breakdown is not always indicative of bad things.
Second, speaking of Jesus’ non-answer, if the Son of God can give one to his mother, your child might not be disrespecting you by giving you the “duh” answer. They might just be genuinely confused why what you asked is really a question.
Third, it is important to remember that Mary and Joseph didn’t avoid the confrontation, nor did they avoid parenting. It is ok to be concerned for your child’s safety, to trust them but not those around them, and to be open and candid with them about it. This isn’t a new thing that exists because ‘the world isn’t the same anymore.’ This is what it means to be a parent and we see that showcased by Mary and Joseph anxious search for Jesus.
Finally, if possible, tap out and let the parent that is less likely to sin handle the confrontation. Are we surprised to see Mary handle the confrontation with Jesus instead of Joseph? Which is good. We didn’t really want Joseph’s only words in Scripture to be him losing his cool with Jesus.
So, take heart, parents. The Son of the Living God became an adolescent and even without sin there was confusion, anxiety, and stress, so all things considered you probably aren’t doing so badly. I can’t guarantee your kid(s) will always live out Jesus’ obedience, but help them love the Lord so that they too can avoid some of the dangers of the road by staying close to their Father’s house.