Having finished her A Levels, and being now between School and University, Bernie has just taken off with a friend for a trip to Barcelona.  Naturally as a parent, I have some slight anxieties about this, her first unsupervised trip abroad. My mind rehearses all the things that could possibly go wrong, physically (health, robbery, assault, accident, etc etc) and of course morally.

She is a great Pride and Prejudice fan, so I can’t help asking myself whether it is like sending Lydia to Brighton…

However, we have always recognised the need for Prudence. Prudence not in the sense of timidity, but in the sense of appropriate risk-taking. And as Bernie is off to University later in the year, it is important she gets some practice at being away from home.

As we said goodbye at the airport, I wondered whether I should offer some final words of paternal advice. But I decided not to. There were a number of reasons for that.

One was simply that I did not want to embarrass her in front of her friend. On its own that is not a sufficient reason to refrain from doing anything, but it is an important consideration. It is too easy, I believe, to underestimate how painful embarrassment is to a teenager.

A second consideration was that I did not want to imply that I do not trust her to behave sensibly. Over the years, her character has developed to the stage where I know that she normally does behave well. She is not perfect – but that too reflects as much on us as her parents as it does on her. So my guess is that she is more likely to continue to behave well if she feels she has our trust and confidence – and would not wish to abuse or lose that – than if she feels that we don’t trust her or think of her a grown-up.

A third consideration was that either we have done our work well over the longer term, and she is able to cope with whatever challenges she encounters, or we haven’t and she won’t: a last minute word of advice or warning is unlikely to have a significant impact.

So off she flew, and she will spend the next few days exploring the art and culture of Barcelona: the magnificent Gaudi Cathedral dedicated to the Sagrada Familia is top of her list of sights to see, and she has promised to pray for us there.

I am sure that she will have a great time, celebrating the end of her schooldays, and the wonderful holiday she has to enjoy before starting her university studies. It is right, after the rigours of the exam season that she should have a break and have some fun.

I am also sure that I have little to worry about. Indeed, the only truly serious worry would be that she die in a state of mortal sin, which seems an extremely remote contingency. Any other evil that befalls her, God can turn to good.

So that’s this week’s challenge: to consider how we can develop our children’s character with sufficient prudence that they we are confident to let them take responsibility for themselves as they reach maturity.

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2 Responses to Bernie in Barcelona

  1. Aluwir says:

    Like you say – Prudence is important. And it isn't timidity.

    I sympathize with your concerns. My oldest daughter, when she was a bit older than Bernie is now, decided that it would be a good idea to see Ireland and Scotland. Solo. I was worried – and concerned, which isn't the same thing – but talked with her, prayed, and decided that she would make decisions based on what she'd learned at home, and on her own.

    She returned with a treasury of good memories: and is the first member of the family in a few generations to go back to one of our homelands, if just to look around.

  2. Ben Trovato says:

    Thanks Aluwir: we await Bernie's return with eager anticipation. I hope she has had as good a time as your daughter did.