I’ve got a question.
I am very sympathetic with anyone who would dare attempt to raise a child. After all, Charlotte and I have raised two children. It is difficult! Raising children has taught me humility. I sure don’t have all the answers. I continue to learn. But, it is an honor and can be so rewarding. After all, a parent is a steward of a young human being who belongs to God.
Yet, I am concerned:
- …when a teenager tells his Dad to "shut up" on a church parking lot. Dad’s shoulders slump as he walks away embarrassed and humiliated.
- …when a young girl berates her mother over not buying her nice clothing, which the family cannot afford. The mother feels guilty and wonders if she is shortchanging her daughter in some way.
- …when a young child talks back to his father and makes a demand. Not only are there no consequences for the way the boy has spoken to his dad, the boy is given what he had just demanded.
- …when a misbehaving child is rewarded. Two brothers, both adults, look forward to getting together for lunch. They live in different parts of the country. One gentleman has his young son with him. The young son, sitting in the back seat, behaves obnoxiously on the way to the restaurant. Dad’s response is to keep turning around and threatening the boy. Finally, just as they get near the restaurant, the dad says to his brother, "If you don’t mind, let’s stop and get him something." Once in the store, the dad purchases his son a $16 toy.
- …when a car load of adults and one child are en route to a restaurant. On the way, the parent of the child says, "Hey would you mind if we ate at _____ (a certain fast food restaurant)? She (this little girl) wants to go there." If this was a special occasion for the child, that would be one thing; but this has happened far too often.
Now I don’t want to paint a completely bleak picture of children and their parents. There are plenty of wonderful parents who love their children and who allow their children to experience consequences when they misbehave. I see many great parents who let their children be children and yet who establish limits. There are plenty of parents who are raising their children in warm, safe, loving environments and at the same time teaching them how to live respectfully of others.
Yet, I have to be very honest and tell you I am concerned. I don’t know how to exactly express what I am sensing. It seems that some parents are afraid to disappoint or to make their children unhappy in some way. I sense they are letting fear be their guide instead of trusting God. Consequently, they allow a 5-year-old or adolescent to take over. Any parent who allows one of their children to basically rule their home is putting that child at a severe disadvantage.
The concern? Ultimately, my concern is for these children. I believe that God has created these homes (two parents, single parent, child living with grandparents, etc.) to prepare these children for the future. To help move them toward maturity. I believe that God is concerned about how we live as stewards of his children. If a child does not grow up honoring mom and dad, how does he or she then begin to honor God? I think about these children who need to learn respect for parents even as they learn to respect God.
My question: Do you see this in your world? Do we seem to be responding to our children out of fear and our own insecurity? Or, do you see something else at work?