Friday, April 6, 2012

Holding Our Children Accountable

I was poking around my blog this morning and noticed that a visitor had read a post that I published back in June of 2011, entitled "Just Wait Until Your Father Gets Home!"  I had written it a couple of years before that and it was just waiting for an opportune time.  It seems today is another one of those moments as I reflected on what I had written and the state of today's youth.

As I re-read my article, it conjured up a slew of crime news articles I have read over the last few years that involved children from very young ages to teenagers bordering on becoming adults.  Their offenses covered a broad spectrum, ranging from insolence, disobedience, and taking joy rides in their parents' cars to senseless murder.

Of course the secular world is unable to understand the reasoning behind such acts.  After all, they are just kids and kids don't do those kinds of things without a reason, right?   They prefer to point the blame towards society's inability to understand them and their needs, or stamp the latest new psychological label to excuse their behavior on their forehead (if there isn't one that explains away the action, they will create a new label for you).  The child becomes the victim, instead of the person to whom the crime was committed against; making excuses for his actions instead of making him accountable for them.  It's much easier to just prescribe a pill to dull the sense of right and wrong, or place them in secular counseling that has the inability to understand sin and never teaches the truth behind cause and effect.  That way, we won't have to be held personally responsible.  We can blame it on some thing or someone else.

Considering this, it is no wonder our kids are confused and unable to differentiate between what is acceptable and what is not.

Perhaps they are victims in a sense.  However, they have been victimized by unconcerned and uninvolved parents and a humanistic society who have failed them in the harshest way possible.  All too often, they have been raised in a home that's void of God and His instructions on parenting and the warnings He has given parents for failing to raise their children properly.  They are left alone to figure out their place in the social structure, making their own choices without considering the consequences, and a large segment of them are growing up on the mean streets that contradicts the definition of a "civil society."  For many of them, crime is commonplace and a way of life; a way to gain position, recognition, acceptance, to fill their pockets with money to buy worthless and meaningless objects in an attempt to "better" their lives, and to fill that void they have in their lives by making them appear to have value in society.

Our churches are also to blame for the postmodern theology and/or lack of sound and Biblical teaching and guidance that has permeated the pulpit.  Far too many youth pastors are playing church with the kids, engaging them in nonsensical and often spiritually dangerous activities, rather than teaching them what it means to love, obey, and serve God.  They are miserably failing to equip them to face the challenges they will meet.   Sadly, the results of these failures are what we are seeing and reading in today's headlines.

When kids are left to themselves, the possibility of them becoming adults with worse attitude and behavioral problems increases.  All one has to do is read the headlines to see the number of men and women incarcerated inside our prisons for varying crimes against humankind.  There is an endless parade of them and only a handful learn anything from their actions and the time they spend behind bars and go on to lead productive lives.  Because of overcrowding within the prison system, our streets are littered with early-release castoffs looking for their next unsuspecting victim.

Even those who give the appearance of living what the world considers a "normal" and "decent"  life have often accomplished their goals using sinful tactics.  Lying is now accepted as a minor offense, if it's even considered to be one. It is now called "not being completely honest" by politicians and pundits, setting a fine example for our children to learn from.  Cheating is commonplace.  Stealing is downplayed if it's just a "small and insignificant" item.  Morals and values have decreased so dramatically to call them almost nonexistent.  Self has overruled what is best for others and society as a whole.  Honesty in business and personal dealings is a rarity.

All of these ills of society began somewhere and, if we would be honest, we know where to point the blame: ourselves and our ignorant willingness to allow the secular world to define proper and improper behavior in our children and how we should and shouldn't deal with it.  But in today's litigious climate, we find ourselves fearful of reprisal should the parents of the wayward child feel their precious baby suffered emotional harm.  Because of this, the community often turns a blind eye to what is going on around them when it concerns the activities of our youth, afraid of stepping forward and offering the child and his parents a better way.   The result is a community of rebellious youths searching for the thing they, as children, desired the most:  guidance off the path of destruction, and a clear demonstration by the adults in their lives that they are loved.

Although we hate to admit it as we gaze upon a newborn infant, children are born sinful.  They are empty vessels that need filled with Godly wisdom and instruction.
(Psalm 12:8; Psalm 14:2; Psalm 57:4)  And they need to be disciplined using God's example when it is necessary (Psalm 34:11).  I deeply admire and respect the parents who love their child so much they made him stand on a street corner with a sign announcing his sin for all the world to see.  It may seem hard and cruel to some who cry, "You shouldn't humiliate him like that!  He's only a child!"  After watching the news video regarding the boy in this post's photo, and hearing his father explain why he made him do it, the lesson was learned and I am confident this young man is being taught Godly values.  One day he will be an adult and his father is counting on that small and possibly embarrassing lesson to help keep his son on the strait and narrow so that he grows up to be the man he wants him to be.

We have One Person that we are responsible to.  God has graciously and lovingly loaned us the privilege of raising a child for Him.  Don't fail Him.  "Train up a child in the way he should go;  even when he is old he will not depart from it." ~ Prov. 22:6 ESV

If parents - and, I might add, grandparents - would apply this tidbit of Godly wisdom in rearing their children, there would be a lot less in the news for us to groan about and grieve over.  Our children would then become the responsible and respectful adults we desire them to be, even if it means forcing them to stand on a street corner with a sign that publicly announces his offense against God.

Allow God to lead you in your home and more important, ask Him to lead you in raising your children (or grandchildren) and guiding them the way you should.  Spend a great deal of time talking to them.  Discover for yourself who their peers are and what they are also involved in.  Closely monitor your child's behavior and look for the warning signs that trouble may be coming.  Don't let someone else raise them for you.  Their values and morals may not reflect your own.  Instruct your children on the things that are most important in life.  Not those new $200 shoes, the big fancy car, or how much money is in their pockets.  But what Scripture tells us to value: a right relationship with God and His Son and the life that awaits us with riches untold.  Teach them what it means to sin against God and the consequences it can bring, both in this world and the next.  And don't downplay what appears to be a minor offense, for there is no such thing in the big scheme of things.

Most important, hold your children accountable for their actions so that, as they grow, you can be assured they won't depart from the things you have taught them.  By doing so, the sign on the street corner won't be necessary.  You will be saving your child from a lifetime of trouble and sparing yourself and the rest of us a world of worry and grief.

No comments: