It is necessary to say a few words on a controversy that – in my opinion – in the last decades it is very radicalized. The one linked to the difference between guilt and responsibility of the parents.
The progress of the pedagogical and psychological sciences has complicated the knowledge of the power of parents in the psychic and existential development of the children. But – at a certain point – some people got the impression that we have exaggerated, as the philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote: “Psychoanalysis has taught in the parents of instructed class fear of failure unconsciously with their children. If you kiss them, they could have an Oedipus complex; if you do not kiss them, it can cause a manifestation of jealousy. If we order the child to do this or that thing, it could create in him a sense of guilt; if not, the children take the habits that parents found them undesirable … “. An exercise of parenting that has thus become “timid, anxious and full of scruples of conscience”.
Parents are condemning themselves to not be good teachers, because sin, unlike responsibility, blocks us forever. Sure, maybe as educators could be done differently, but when referring to the past, we must also accept and recognize our limitations and our mistakes, and – this is perhaps the most important point – try with our ability to remedy them. After all, if we could not be done better, maybe there is a reason.
And perhaps that reason should be sought in the fact that the parents were themselves children of imperfect relationships, errors of judgment, of rigidity related to pedagogical beliefs of the period. But life goes on. The inheritance metaphor help us to remain calm: our children receive an inheritance. It may be abundant or not, but what they will do with it, depend on them. This does not excuse us, to act our parenting, from trying to leave a good inheritance, and teaching them to manage it well.