What do you make of opening of the prodigal son story? The son who asked his still-alive father for his inheritance. Just couldn’t wait, breaking a key social taboo. And the brother who didn’t ask – presumably receiving nothing at the time. He just stayed on with Dad.
Today, things are more complicated. The bank of (again, still-alive!) Mum and Dad can be a source to help out the young, what with the housing market being the way it is. How generous - how even-handed - should older parents be, given the varying needs of youngsters, and a landscape that can dramatically shift? Many years ago, I heard of a live-at-home daughter who was left a bungalow in its entirety by her parents ‘because she would never marry’. But soon after they died, she did! Subsequent requests from her brother for a cut of the cake fell on deaf ears. Perhaps we in turn wrestle - as donors or recipients - with what we should do, or expect?
It’s far from straightforward. For those of us who are fathers, on Father’s Day, maybe we struggle knowing we have not always been that role model of fair-minded generosity. We have to live with our own imperfections.
Fortunately we have the assurance of an understanding, loving heavenly Father who is outrageously generous in both grace and provision. As the song says: “Thank you, O my Father, for giving us your Son, and leaving your Spirit till the work on earth is done.”