Bonnin pointed to the need to “fit in” or to “belong” that often puts pressure on children: “Children need to know how to recognize limits they should not cross,” he noted.
“Many times it’s necessary to have the autonomy to say ‘no,’ as happens, on the other hand, with the consumption of substances and other risky activities,” he said.
The priest called on adults to work so that children have “strong self-esteem, based on self-knowledge and the discovery of their own values and qualities.”
“They need to know, from a young age, that they are unique, valuable, unrepeatable… and that to be happy they don’t have to do ‘what everyone else is doing’ or always ‘go with the flow,’” he counseled.
Don’t just love them: Make them feel loved
Along these lines, he clarified that the youngest children have “‘self-esteem’ and ‘self-worth’ if they feel and know that they are esteemed and valued.”
“This is shown in the family, especially with the quality time that parents choose to spend with them,” he said.
Parents have to “love them very much,” but it’s also necessary that they “feel loved,” that “we like to be with them, that we appreciate their lives,” Bonnin explained.
The priest also encouraged reducing screen time: “Let’s go back to spending time face to face, looking each other in the eye... and also playing, hugging, with physical contact.”
Asked about the role of the Church, Bonnin considered it important to burn into the hearts of children the certainty that “it’s very good that I exist.”
Likewise, he called for reinforcing in them the awareness that “they are valuable because they are the image and likeness of God, not because of what they do, nor because of what they achieve, nor because of how they dress or look.”
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Providing quality time and a sense of belonging
He also shared the hope that families, together with the Church, can create an environment of belonging, situations and places “where children are loved and accepted as they are.”
For Bonnin, it’s also important to offer opportunities for prayer, where children and adolescents who may feel alone “can discover a healthy and strong bond with God the Father, with Jesus as Friend, with the Holy Spirit who guides them... with Mary’s love.”
Seeking relief in Jesus
Finally, addressing Milagros’ family, the priest recalled that Jesus said: “Come to me, you who are afflicted and overwhelmed, and I will give you relief.”
“In the heart of Jesus you can find relief from your pain, and you can receive the grace of hope of eternal life for your daughter.”