Archive for June 13th, 2014

I was raised in a very disciplined household. “Children were to be seen and not heard,” my mother always said. And that statement was hammered into my head. Not just from my parents, but from other adults of that generation. My opinions didn’t count nor could they be expressed.

A sense of worthlessness grew inside me along with its good buddies, resentment and anger.

My attitude became one of sitting down and being quiet on the outside, but standing up and screaming inside. One of Mama’s favorite quips was, “If I tell you black is white, you’d better get a paint brush and paint it.” Her word was law—end of discussion.

The response my husband had to the seen and not heard instruction was timidity and stuttering.

When I became a parent, I determined never to utter those words to my children. They could express their feelings, even disagree, as long as they spoke in a calm, respectful manner, with the knowledge Dad was the officer-in-charge and I was the first mate, but we needed and counted on the input of our children.

Many of you were probably raised under the seen and not heard mantra. What effect did those words have on you? Did you raise your children by that premise?

A friend and I were talking the other day, and she had an even stronger reaction to that old saying being repeated to her again and again. She struggled with a sense of worthlessness and depression from early childhood, which led to teen and early adult addictions. Today we both lead support groups and see how actions, attitudes, and emotions from unresolved conflict in the past explode and affect the present griefs and addictions.

The home and family is the place where children should fledge—sprout wings. Without encouragement to participate in family discussions and decisions, to respect and be respected, to understand and be a part of loving relationships, the maturing process is stunted, possibly forever.

So just as we threw away last week’s quote, time heals all wounds, we should throw away this week’s children should be seen and not heard.

In giving our children a voice, we must be careful not to lean too far the other way. All we have to do is turn on the evening news and watch elementary hoodlums sassing and raging at teachers. No respect. And their actions are contagious to less aggressive children. What do you suppose these kids do at home? Or how about when they are older, bigger, stronger?

Another friend taught in the public school system in Dallas where special needs children are main-streamed into all classes. A young elementary student was given to rages—throwing things, turning over desks, screaming, kicking, biting. The district instructed the teachers to remove the class from the room and let the child’s tantrum run its course. And we wonder why we have school shootings, fights, attacks? Where is the logic of this policy?

So, what are we to do? Where are we to go? We do the one thing we always do when a problem is illusive. We go to the Word of God.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12 NAS).

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart” (Colossians 3:21 NAS).

“Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20 NAS).

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”
(Ephesians 6:1-4 NAS).

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:3-5 NAS).

“But Jesus called for them, saying, ‘Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all” (Luke 18:16-17 NAS).

These scriptures, and many others, show us it’s all about relationships. Parent and child, just like God the Father with each one of us. Does He strike you with a bolt of lightning when you ask why? Or when you question Him in grief, heartache, or despair? No, He encourages you to come to Him and pour out your heart. Even when you’re angry and don’t understand.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NAS).

Let’s noodle this out together. Do you think Jesus would issue a limitless invitation to come to Him, then when we get there tell us, “Don’t try to get My attention? Sit up straight. Be still. Just sit there, shut-up, and look pretty ‘til I have time to listen.”

“That’s absurd,” you say. “He’s God. I’m not.”

Right, He is sovereign over the whole Universe. But He has given us authority over our little plot of the world. And we’ve allowed the pendulum to swing too far to the left of right.

So what can we do now?

Parents must go back to school. In this age of technology where children operate computers, IPhones, Kindles, etc. before they learn to tie their shoestrings, it is imperative for parents to understand it’s not a question of if trouble will happen, but when will it happen. Every parent must learn about electronic protections and safeguards, time restraints and locations for using these cyberspace playgrounds.

Regimented family life is imperative. In our home suppertime was 6 PM. Until I married and left home, we all gathered for the evening meal. Together.

Difficult discussions must take place with each child—straight to the point and often. Always making sure the child knows they can never do anything that will make you stop loving them. The family will work to solve every problem, together.

Young people and children in America are starving. Starving from a deprivation of understanding and believing the relevancy of the Word of God. Let’s talk about this urgent issue while freedom to speak is still the law of the land.

The most important thing parents must do is read the Word of God and pray with their children. Teaching them from an early age, God loves them, and each one of you are accountable to God for the stewardship of your life.

Jesus tells us in Matthew and in Luke, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself falls” (Matthew 12:25, Luke 11:17 NAS).

Children are our future and our heritage. We must live out the principles of God’s Word—that it’s all about relationships not religion. Relationships with God. Relationships with one another. Or America will cease to be.

What do you think? Were words spoken during your childhood that blessed or harmed you? How did your upbringing affect the way you raised your children?

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