The Words of the Kunkel Family

Preparing to Match your Child - An Interview with Geros Kunkel the Chairman of the European Blessed Family Department

February 2009

Has the function of the Second Generation Blessed Family Department changed with the advent of matching by parents?

An element has changed; it's no longer just about preparing candidates to go to True Parents' matching. Now the parents are included in the whole process. For that reason, the education has changed, and of course there is a new focus for us -- to work with parents, to include parents and to reflect with parents about how to best go about matching and the blessing.

For first-generation couples the focus in receiving the blessing was removal of original sin. How would you describe the significance of the blessing for second- generation couples?

The removal of the original sin is part of the process of the change of lineage. Those born into the second generation of that lineage should protect the lineage. This means education for us has been on keeping purity and on preparing ourselves to establish our own families through the blessing. We are continuing the lineage and continuing within our own lineage to perfect ourselves, which is a goal of the first-generation blessing that we have to achieve over the generations.

First-generation parents might think that accepting the blessing is natural for our children. We might be lazy about helping them prepare. What should we be doing?

Having good communication between parents and children allows us to talk about the subjects which are important -- our values about marriage, and about purity. Of course, as they grow up in the world and go to school, those in the second generation are confronted with society's values in terms of marriage and relationships. In order to highlight what is important in our tradition, it's good to communicate early and not in a stressful situation -- meaning don't wait until you are already trying to match them. Build a close relationship with your children, convey your values and beliefs, and then step by step raise them to realize and understand the value of the blessing and to also willingly prepare themselves to go this way.

You said it's good to communicate early; how early?

It depends on the child, but you can start very early in a very basic form, even before the age of ten, to generally talk about boys and girls, because already by then they're talking about these kinds of things with their friends. Definitely, in teenage years -- thirteen, fourteen, fifteen -- be more direct about relationships and why it's important to abstain from them and that God has prepared a spouse for him or her. There is a lot of purity education available, which is valuable to use. The key is that children are able to feel that their parents are the ones they can go to about these issues. Often, I think it's difficult for parents to talk about the sexual relationship or things related to it directly with their children, but it would be good if the children feel that they can ask questions and freely communicate with their parents, because they will be confronted with the issue in school and other people will talk about it.

Aren't children sometimes more reluctant to discuss these issues than their parents are?

That's possible. In any case, it's important as parents to be sensitive to how our children deal with the issue. Some might not deal with it early; usually boys wait longer or don't want to talk about it directly. The best education as parents is to he a good example, to be a happy couple is more effective than words. Our children will think my parents have a happy blessing; I also want to have that.

How can parents increase their confidence that God is working through them in the matching process?

For many parents confidence is one of the difficulties in matching. As with many things in our spiritual lives, it requires our full effort, but we should feel confident that True Parents have given us this responsibility and that we can fulfill it. No parent is alone in it; matching is our joint responsibility as a community of blessed families.

We want to support blessed families, so we've organized convocations and different events where parents can come together to hear others' experiences and to gain confidence and support each other. There is support, and there are ways to help each other. Obviously, this is one of the biggest responsibilities we as blessed families should inherit from True Parents. We should continue True Parents' tradition in our own families, and God wants to work in that way. It is something we should at least try to take on ourselves and maybe not worry about too much. It's difficult, but I'm sure God is very interested in working in that area; it's a chance for us to experience God working in our own families if we take it on. We are setting the tradition for matching and blessing now. We should take on this task and inherit from our True Parents. Also on both sides, parents and children, we need to set the right tradition of allowing God's will to work in our families.

On the other hand, our children have seen us in the mundane role of a dad and mom. How might they deepen their trust that God works through the process when parents match?

To attend a blessing workshop together is very valuable, because in a very deep way we talk about the process of the blessing and the change of lineage. The parents can also gain confidence from the workshop because we value the course they went through. Children hear testimonies from parents and can see that there's much more depth in what they went through than that they married and became my parents. I think it's very valuable to share your life testimony, for those in the first generation to share how you joined the church and how you went to the blessing. However, you can't expect the children, from their side, to make that step, nor to see and appreciate the depth of the course of the blessing naturally.

And that's better facilitated at a blessing workshop?

That's one place. Of course, it can be done in the community, at Sunday services, or at other second-generation workshops. There are many opportunities. A blessing workshop is a good one, because there we directly talk about what the process of the change of lineage means from various perspectives -- from history, from the True Parents' course, the course of the first generation and the Blessing Ceremony itself. We look at the marriage and the matching process more from an internal point of view, which gives you an opportunity to share with your children about it. But anytime you can find an opportunity is fine. When those in the second generation go to workshops or do public missions, it's always a chance for them to realize more about the course of the first generation and the course of our True Parents, as well as the importance and deep meaning generally of the blessing and our lineage.

Emphasis on elevating the course of the first generation makes me think we're seen as needy people. I wonder how necessary it is?

It is important for us in the second generation to be aware of the lineage, of the first generation's providential time and of the role they played. It is our identity, the pride of the second generation, what makes us special in God's eyes. Of course, it might not be easy for those in the first generation to go off and brag about it, but younger people don't know much about this. They don't have much direct access to what occurred during the wilderness course and what our movement has gone through. There has to be a way for them to access that, and to also feel pride in their parents. If parents live a very sincere life, children very naturally see that, but in daily life it's not always easy, so we may need to find ways for it to be brought out and mentioned.

What's the Cheon Il Guk blessing standard?

What True Parents are trying to establish is based on God's original ideal of young people growing up in purity, growing up in an atmosphere of parental love and brother - sister love, with everything that has to do with the conjugal relationship coming only after receiving the blessing. This is so that we have no experiences of conjugal or exclusive love between man and woman as preparation for receiving the blessing from God. God can be most present under those circumstances; God can bless that. In that sense, the basic definition is to have no experience of the other sex.

We are not yet at a point where all our children keep that standard.

Father, of course, uses the Cheon Guk standard. He is trying to make it a model for all of us, so we should focus on the issue of keeping our purity and preparing our hearts to receive our spouse from God and to have God with us from the beginning point of this relationship. Everything we do is to prepare ourselves to be absolutely free, with a clear conscience, in front of God and in front of our spouse. That's the guideline, that's where we are trying to head.

In reality many people have struggled with that; some have made mistakes. In the matching, parents have to deal with all those situations. We have to be able to embrace those who have made a mistake, help them find ways to restore that and come to the blessing with a pure heart.

Father has supported us by giving us a lot of grace, a lot of forgiveness, and by opening up the way for many kinds of people with difficult situations to receive the blessing.

Still, we have to keep the ideal and try to do the best we can to fulfill that standard. If mistakes have been made, it's important that we don't just accept them, but that we go through the course of confessing them, indemnifying them and coming to a pure heart. In the matching, we also need to consider how this might affect a future spouse.

As blessed families, we need to take responsibility for all these situations and try as much as possible to turn them in the right direction, to move in a vertical way, so that God can still be present and guide us. That can be painful in some situations, but the Cheon Il Guk standard should be our guide, the ideal we strive to realize, as it is God's original ideal and is absolute.

I imagine that keeping a vertical focus is a concern in any matching by parents.

It's important for the parents to discuss with their children what is important about matching and blessing. They need to be honest with themselves, because everyone has different expectations. Some might feel it's important that the person looks good or that I have a good feeling with the person. Some might think it's important that the matching candidate have a certain education level or income.

We want to try to see from God's perspective, to find the person God has prepared and the person our child can grow to a high standard with, have a good family with and raise children with so that God's tradition can carry on.

We need to consider how they can support each other in keeping a healthy spiritual life.

It's important to share about these things, be aware of and reflect on what our values are and perhaps challenge those values if there are aspects that we shouldn't focus on too much. Let's see how we can create a process where we try to consider God's will and guidance as much as possible.

If we accompany that with prayer, with reflection and discussion with other families, I am sure God will work and show us the way. I think He will work differently in each family; we all have to find our way to allow God to guide us in this process.

If being blessed to someone from another country or culture inspires the child and the parents, what additional preparation would you recommend?

Language is always one thing to consider. If both are from Western countries and the two speak English, usually that's fine. If it's to someone from an Asian country, it would be good to be at least aware of the language situation.

To have lived in another country is always valuable. It's very difficult for people blessed together, such as someone from the West and someone from Asia, if one of them is unwilling to move. Living in the other country for a year or so, not just visiting, changes your view.

Two worlds are coming together with very different expectations of marriage, different views of how to do things and different understandings of the roles of man and woman. Any of these issues might be confronted, so it helps that you are open-minded and able to see the good side and the value in the other culture, rather than just the differences and the bad side. To live in a foreign country is valuable before or after the blessing. We need to be aware that our own culture may also seem strange to the other person. To be open to loving other cultures is important. Each situation is so different, but being open-minded and having as much international experience as possible is helpful.

How would you recommend parents help their son or daughter once he or she has been blessed?

It's a bit of a tightrope walk, because on the one hand, it's good that parents are involved and support, but on the other hand, they shouldn't get too involved and dominate. They have to let go and trust their children to work out their own situation. I think a key is having a good relationship where honest sharing is possible. You can then let go and let the child come to the parents and ask if necessary. We need to be sensitive about when not to be involved.

Are there online resources that can help in the second-generation matching?

Yes. We have Blessed Family Department Europe, which have some resources and people you can contact for help. I think it's better to have experienced people to talk to.

In terms of how to build a successful relationship, there's a lot of material available in society that is often very valuable. We provide some workshops and opportunities for further education for blessed couples.

It's a good idea to set up a community where you live -- to meet other blessed families. I know that in Korea some of the Westerners married to Koreans keep in contact with each other, because they are in similar situations.

It's good if the blessed families themselves can look for help, ways to support their own and other blessed families. We have the trinities that have been set up, and it's good to communicate within the communities where we live. In some countries we have quite good and frequent communication and resources available for blessed couples; in other countries we live in isolation and there is not so much set up.

Please tell us something about the convocations you've held in Europe.

Convocations are held regularly in all continents where there's a second-generation blessing department. In Europe, we just started last year, so we've only done two. It's a little bit new for us.

We'll continue doing two every year.

I think the convocations are valuable for all parents who are thinking about matching their children, even if they haven't already started the process. They can still hear about the process of matching by parents and get to know other blessed families in preparation for matching.

Those who are specifically looking can use the convocations to find candidates; it's an opportunity to present pictures of the candidates. You can meet other candidates' parents and look for potential contacts for matching.

The convocations have those purposes. It's a two or three-day meeting for parents where they present their sons and daughters, listen to lectures, share experiences and get help if they have any questions about the matching or face any challenges.

We have also the Special Needs Ministry for children that have mental or physical disabilities. We also talk about how to take care of children who are struggling with their faith or with purity. We try as much as possible to provide comprehensive support for parents.

We are trying to set a tradition together and it's best to do that together as a public task. We declare what our values are and where we want to go. We consider how True Parents match and how we can inherit that tradition. We then declare our determination to do our best as blessed families to fulfill this responsibility, which True Parents have given to the blessed families.

I noticed that most of the people on your blessing web site have specialties.

On the European Blessed Family Department web site, we have a committee and some national representatives, but we also have a large board of advisers. These advisers are people with some expertise in the partnership and marital relationship area. They offer seminars on various approaches, as well as counseling. They are listed on the site for blessed families that need help or wish to organize a workshop.

Have you any thoughts on the foundation the second generation is creating for the third?

The first step in the change of lineage happens in the first generation. Over the next several generations, the challenge is to substantially create ideal families, which means to become perfect.

We want second-generation blessed couples to create even better relationships than their parents' generation did and to raise children well, so the children receive more love, naturally connect to the values of the blessing and are stronger in terms of withstanding the fallen values that society portrays.

By going through the course themselves, I hope the second generation will transmit even more to their children, so that the third generation has an even better foundation from the education they receive and from the families they grow up in.

Mr. Kunkel and his wife Astrid are a second-generation couple, blessed in 1997. 

Table of Contents

Tparents Home

Moon Family Page

Unification Library