How do I express my satisfaction without overly influencing my son's thoughts?
Dear Fr Anthony,
As a parent of a young teen considering the priesthood, how do I express my satisfaction without overly influencing my son's thoughts?
It is almost definite that you already have greatly influenced your son's thoughts. However, that is the role of a responsible parent, so no harm done—quite the contrary! I think every mother and father should make sure that each one of their children knows their faith well, and receives from them a strong example of married love, and also a deep appreciation for the consecrated vocation and the priesthood.
I think every child should know the liberating truth that his parent's only desire that he do in life what God wants of him, and he can count on their support 100% in following his call, be it to the married or the consecrated vocation, or the priesthood. Some parents err on the side of total opposition to consecration and the priesthood, or to the concrete form to which their child feels called, while others can err by subtle and not so subtle pressure towards them despite their child’s hesitation.
At times it can be hard to strike a balance, for example in the case a son shows all the signs of a vocation, has had a strong inclination in the past, but when the time comes to act he is not really giving it a chance. You don't want to force him, but you can't really stand by passively either; you have to lend your voice to God while still respecting your son's freedom.
In these cases we have to pray, purify our intention, ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, and attempt an open, faith-motivated conversation with him, because we love him, we love Christ, we love the souls he may be called to serve and we love the Church. In doing so we are not trying to get him to answer us, but we are trying to place him before Christ, to answer him.
Hope that helps.