The children are not educated by praising them continuously. They become selfish and full of vanity. They will want all their life to be praised without cease by everyone even if sometimes they are told lies.
Unfortunately today everybody has got used to lie and the lovers of vainglory accept the lies, they are their nourishment. `Say anything, even if it is a lie or an irony`, they say. God doesn’t want this. God wants the truth. Unfortunately not everyone understands this and they do the opposite things.
The children when they are praised without discernment are taken into possession by the enemy. He arouses their selfishness and getting used from a small age with the praises of their parents and educators may make progress in learning but what’s the use of that? They will become selfish, not real Christians. Selfish people can never be Christians. The selfish people always want to be praised by everyone, to be appreciated by everyone and our God, our Church and our Christ don’t want this.
Our religion doesn’t want this kind of education. On the contrary, it aims that they children learn the truth. Christ’s truth attests the fact that if you praise a man, you make him selfish. The selfish man is a stray, guided by the devil, by the evil spirit. Thus growing in selfishness his first concern is to deny God and be an inadaptable selfish person in the society. You must say the truth, to let the man know it. Otherwise you keep him in his ignorance. When you say the truth to the other one, then he orients himself, takes heed, listens the others and refrains. Thus you will tell the truth to the child, you will rebuke him to make him understand that what he does it’s not good. What does Solomon, the wise say?
`Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them` (The Proverbs of Solomon 13, 24). But don’t beat him with the club because we go over the accepted limits and it happens the contrary.
By praising them since they are small we make our children be selfish. And the selfish one can be deluded, it is enough to tell him that he is good and you make his ego swallow. And this is what he tells you: `Ah, this one praises me, this one is good.` These things are not right. The man becomes more selfish, the disorders from his inner self begin, he suffers, he doesn’t know what to do. Selfishness is the cause of the spiritual anxiety. Even the psychiatrists if they study this thing will see that the selfish man is sick.
We should never praise or flatter our fellow men, but lead them to humbleness and the love for God. And we should never aim to make the others love us by praising them. We should learn to love not to ask to be loved. We should love all the people and make as many sacrifices we can for all our brothers in Christ, unselfishly, without waiting praises and love from them. They will do everything God will tell them. If they are true Christians we will praise God together for having met and for helping them or telling them a good word.
You should advice the school children in this way too. This is the truth. Otherwise they become inadaptable. They don’t know where they go and what they do and we are the reason for that because we made them be so. We haven’t guided them towards the truth, towards humbleness, towards the love for God. We made them selfish and now this is the result.
But there are children who have humble parents and they are told from an early age about God and about the holy humbleness. These children don’t create problems to their fellow men. They don’t get angry when you show them their mistake, they try to correct themselves and they pray to God to help them not to become selfish.
What can I tell you about myself, when I arrived in the Holy Mountain I went to some very saint elders. They never praised me. They always advised me how to love God and be humble all the time, to call God to strengthen my soul to love Him more. I have never known what means to be praised and never sought it. On the contrary, I was upset when my elders did not rebuke me. I said to myself: `May heaven swallow me, I haven’t found good elders.` I wanted to be rebuked by them, to treat me severely. If a Christian hears what I tell you know, he gets upset and doesn’t accept this. However this is how it’s good, to be humble and sincere.
My parents have never praised me either. I didn’t want it. That’s why, everything I did, I did it without any interest. Now when I am praised by people I feel embarrassed. What can I tell you…It touches my heart when the others praise me. But I did not suffer any harm because I learnt humbleness. And now why don’t I like to be praised? Because I know that the praise makes the man be hollow and draws away the grace of God. And the grace of God comes only through the holy humbleness. The humble man is the perfect one. Aren’t all these nice? Aren’t these true?
To anyone you tell this, he will say : `What are you saying, grandpa, if you don’t praise the child he cannot read, he cannot do anything…`But this happens so because this is how we are and we make the children be in the same way. We have strayed from the truth. The first people, Adam and Eve were simple and humble, that’s why they lived in heaven.
They had as they say in theological terms, the initial charismas, those given by God from the beginning when He created the man, meaning life, immortality, conscience, self possession, love, humbleness and all the others. Then the devil cheated them by praising them. They filled themselves with selfishness, but the real nature of the man as he was created by God is humbleness. While selfishness is something unnatural, it is a disease, it is against nature.
Thus, when we encourage the super ego of the child with praises, we arouse his selfishness, we hurt him badly. We make him be more vulnerable to devilish influences. Thus when he grows up we make him go astray of the precious things of life. Don’t you think that this is the reason why the children get lost, why the men rebel? It’s the selfishness which was engrained in them from an early age by their parents. The devil is the great selfish, the great evening star. So we live with the devil, with the evening star inside ourselves. We don’t live in humbleness. Humbleness belongs to God, it’s something necessary to the human soul. It’s something organic. When it’s lacking it’s as if they body were heartless. The heart gives life to the body and humbleness gives life to the soul. Through selfishness the man is on the side of the evil spirit, meaning that he evolves with the evil spirit not with the good one.
This is what the devil did. He has made a maze from the earth so that we cannot understand with each other anymore. What are all these we have suffered and we are not aware of? You see how we were deluded? We’ve made from our planet and from our age a real clinic of psychiatry. And we don’t realize our mistake. We all wonder: `what have we become, where are we going, why our children have gone on such a way, why did they leave their home, why did they leave their life, their school? Why are these things happening?
The devil succeeded to make the man consider him absent and call him in other ways. The doctors, the psychologists say many times when a man suffers: `Ah, you have a neurosis`, you have an anxiety and other similar things. They cannot understand that the devil stirs and awakes selfishness in the man. But the devil exists; he is the spirit of the evil. If we say that he doesn’t exist it’s as if we denied the Evangel which speaks about him. He is our enemy who fights against us all our life, the enemy of Christ and for this reason he is called antichrist. Christ came on earth to save us from the devil and to redeem our souls.
That’s why we must teach the children to live humbly and plainly and never seek to be praised. We should teach them humbleness which is the health of life.
The conception of the modern society harms the children. This has a different psychology, a different pedagogy, it addresses to the children of the atheists. This conception leads to arbitrariness. And you see the results at the children and the youth. The youth are saying today loudly: `You must understand us!` But we should not approve them. On the contrary, we should only pray for them, we should say what is right, we will live in a righteous way and preach the righteousness but we will never adapt to their spirit. We should not damage the greatness of our faith. It is not worth to adopt their way of thinking when trying to help them. We must be who we are and preach the truth, the light.
The children will learn from the Parents. The teaching of the Parents will show them what is the meaning of confession, of irrational passions, how the saints defeated the evil which was inside themselves. And we will pray so that God may shelter in their hearts.
From the book `Elder Porphyrios is speaking to us`, Bunavestire Publishing, Galați, 2003