Tension in the Family Mediated by Grandparents
On Friday, August 7, 2015, Pope Francis answered questions from members of the Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM). The EYM is an international branch of the Apostleship of Prayer for children and young adults, ages 5 to 25. Its spirituality is centered on the Eucharist and inspired by the Jesuit way of life.
Focusing on the words “tension” and “conflict” that several of the young people used, the Pope said that we should not be afraid of tensions that arise in our relationships. These tensions, which happen commonly in the family, can be resolved by ongoing dialogue, which unites people while enabling them to maintain their own identities.
Without tensions, the family would be “a cemetery, because there are…no conflicts in dead things.” Although the Pope said that “when there is life, there is tension and conflict,” he also warned against loving tension for its own sake. Conflict is only fruitful because it “help[s] us take a step towards harmony.”
Later, in answering a question about tensions between two generations (the children and parents of a family), the Holy Father noted, “But there is another generation. Why didn’t you speak of grandparents?” The Pope expressed his hope for grandparents to be remembered and respected in families, saying that the elderly are “the great forgotten ones” of the modern age. He then recounted a story in which he asked an elderly woman how she had lived to 92 years old. Her answer? “You know, I eat ravioli!…And I make them myself!”
Talking with grandparents “is always a surprise,” and inviting them to live in the family home helps to resolve tensions because “they know how to listen [and] they have patience.”