A friend and I were bemoaning the fact the other day that sometimes our children are not truly appreciative of all that they have, that they take so much for granted and often want more.
I said that it was our own fault. We are the ones who give them everything they want and follow a policy of instant gratification. We are afraid to discipline them as they should be disciplined and we often don’t hold them accountable for their actions for ‘fear’ of their reactions. His reply shocked me. He said:
“Yes, but we live in a world of fear. There are so many children who are bulimic, anorexic or who are cutting themselves that we are afraid that if we do not give our children what they want they will start doing the same. Others suffer from depression and are on medication. We are held in bondage to this fear.”
I don’t agree – I believe that some of our children will still suffer from all these things even if they are given everything they demand – in fact, maybe the more they are given, the more they will be inclined to suffer from these issues.
It has almost become quite common place, or in some instances, ‘fashionable’ to be bulimic or anorexic or a cutter and to be in therapy.
Our children have to contend with so much today – not the least of these things being social media. They never have time to relax, to be alone. Their lives are splashed on twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and countless other forms of media.
Not just their lives, but their parents lives as well. A large majority of us parents also spend way too much time on whatsapp or twitter or email – I am certainly guilty of this. Our children watch programs on television that ‘normalise’ all these issues and they are being taught that there is nothing wrong with sex before marriage, having multiple partners, experimenting with drugs and alcohol because ‘everyone does it’ and it is perfectly normal.
Depression among school children is rife with many taking medication to get them through the day, and then, as a community we sometimes experience the devastation of loss as some teenagers feel the only way out is to take their own lives to end their pain.
The world our children are growing up in is foreign to us parents. Our four and five year old’s are taught not to brush their friends knees of grit and dirt when they have fallen and grazed themselves because the blood of their friend may contain the AIDS virus. How heartbreaking is that? Having to teach our children to curtail the basic human response of bringing comfort to those they love because of a very real fear of being infected with a disease.
A law passed in my country, South Africa, in 2007 states that “children as young as twelve can get condoms and the Pill, get HIV treatment, and have an abortion – without their parents’ consent”, how achingly sad is that?
Our children have easy access to drugs, alcohol and porn. The divorce rate is on the increase, families are breaking up and there are many single parent households. A few years ago the Daily Mail reported “One in ten families never sits down to an evening meal together, a study revealed today. Hectic social schedules and hefty workloads means millions of families are unable to enjoy each other’s company at the dinner table.” It went on to report that in a study of 3 000 adults, two thirds of their children reportedly yearned for a return to the traditional family dinner time.
So, no wonder parenting a teenager feels like you are a tight rope walker or that you are constantly ‘walking on egg shells’ as we find ourselves challenged by them, and the ever changing world we live in.
What is really great, however, is the fact that even if we misstep and fall off the tightrope, or crush all the egg shells, our safety net is ginormous!
GOD IS OUR SAFETY NET and when we go to Him in prayer for wisdom and discernment FOR OURSELVES in raising our children and we request wisdom, self-control and safety FOR OUR CHILDREN we know that He hears us and responds in love.
My all time favorite Bible verse is found in 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”. Instead of sins I put ‘mistakes’ because as parents we make countless mistakes in raising our children but as long as they know they are loved and prayed for I believe that in the end they will develop into the people God created them to be.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” 1 Corinthians 13:13