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Monday, February 25, 2013

Question on parent handout regarding disinterested service



A parent recently asked me to clarify the meaning of the term disinterested service with regard to the duties of parents found in Handout 1:b:  

"Create a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and disinterested service are the rule. In other words, we are to foster loving environments in which our children can flourish and in which there is no partiality. It is the environment by which parents look out for the common good of all members of the family." CCC 2223

The first thought that probably strikes most readers is - this must be wrong! Why would the Catechism teach parents that it is acceptable to show disinterested service when parenting? For most of us, the term disinterest means lack of interest. But that is not that only meaning of the word: disinterested. This term can mean any of the following (according to the Random House Dictionary)
  • not influenced by selfish movtives
  • unbiased by personal interest or advantage
  • not interested; indifferent
We can say confidently, that the authors of the Catholic Catechism did not mean the latter definition for disinterested service. Rather they teach parents to create a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and sacrificial (unselfish) service are the rule. We ought to parent without asking what's in it for me in other words!