An Allegory

Once upon a time there was a little boy in a big family. His family had its fair share of problems and difficulties, but they were a good family.

One day, this little boy found a new friend to play with. He was a very smart and clever boy, who usually was very helpful and conscientious in the neighborhood. But he had a strong belief that parents should never tell their children what to do. He never cared what his own parents said, and he encouraged other children to ignore their parents. He said that parents who told their children what to do were like dictators and tyrants, and they had no right to boss their children around. He said that children should stand up for their rights and decide for themselves what's best for them. It's their lives, after all, not their parents'.

It didn't take long before the little boy began to be influenced by his friend. He started talking back to his parents. He ignored them when they told him to come here. He started staying out until very late at night, and didn't even pay any attention when his parents said when to come in at night. He went out when he pleased, went wherever he pleased with whomever he pleased, and came home when he pleased, often leaving his parents terribly worried about where he was and if something had happened to him, but he didn't care at all. He wouldn't do his chores when he was told, he fought constantly with his brothers and sisters and ignored his parents when they tried to step in, he played his radio blaring even at night and often waking his baby sister up.

His parents discovered that he was getting that way because of his new friend. His parents asked him not to play with that friend, but the little boy just ignored his parents. They tried explaining to him that it was their responsibility to make sure he didn't hang around with bad companions, but he responded by saying that his parents didn't know what they were talking about, they were stupid, his friend did lots of good things in the neighborhood and he knew that his friend was a good boy (he never encouraged him to do anything illegal; most of the time they'd go around helping people in the neighborhood and cleaning up) and there was nothing they could say to convince him that he was having a bad influence on him. Finally, they had to forbid him to play with that friend. He responded by yelling at his parents and saying they had no right to tell him whom he could and could not play with. They said that there were many good kids in the neighborhood he could be friends with, and there were. But he didn't care; how dare his parents say whom he could or couldn't play with! They said that children must obey their parents, but he just dared them to just try and see if they could get him to stay away from that friend.

Soon, he was trying to get his brothers and sisters to talk back to the parents too. If they did what they were told, he called them babies for clinging to mom and dad, and saying that they had to think for themselves and stand up on their own two feet. Some of his brothers and sisters started wondering if maybe he was right, that they should think for themselves and not do what their parents told them to do. They started talking back too and ignoring what their parents told them to do, and even threatening their parents and calling them names.

He was breaking his parents' hearts by his constant talking back and disobedience, and his encouraging his brothers and sisters to do likewise. But his parents knew their responsibility, and wouldn't back down and say it was alright to hang around with that friend and not do what he was told. The problems in the family kept getting worse and worse, tearing the family apart. Finally, his father had to say that he had to make a choice: it was either his family, or his friend. He couldn't keep hanging around with that friend and continue to be part of that family. The boy knew deep down what was right, and in the end he chose his family. His bad friend became his enemy, but his family was more important.

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