In light of the tragedies of this past week, I felt compelled to write this, though I know I may be in the minority and may not go down on anyone’s “favorite” list. In fact, some of you may even un-“like” me, but that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Nothing really does. People, living according to God’s purpose and eternity are the only things that should matter.
A few weeks ago, many of my friends on Facebook were circulating a funny video about “First World Problems.” Albeit hilarious (my husband and I joked about it for several days), there are many people in our great country that really do act that way, and it’s not only sad but frightening. Frightening? Yes! My children are growing up in this very society, and this is where their future is headed. And that’s frightening.
Now, I’m not saying that this particular shooting in Connecticut had anything to do with my thoughts on this (nor the mall shooting nor the theater shooting), but I still think it’s an important thought to get across. The reason I am bringing this up is because the shooter was identified as having been mentally ill, and I’m sick, so so sick of hearing that every mass shooter we have had lately has been mentally ill as an excuse. Don’t get me wrong. I do understand mental illness to some capacity, as I have had a few family members diagnosed with it, and I know it’s real. But what’s the underlying causes of some of these chemical imbalances and other issues? Why are the instances of mental illness so much bigger in these first world countries than in others? So, it got me thinking of possibilities on some of the possible causes (I know some instances are completely unpreventable and not caused by this, so I emphasize “some”)…
My mother-in-law seems to suspect that diet and chemicals are to blame. She explains that we constantly breathe, wear, use and consume toxins (like pesticides, food coloring, chemicals and other additives) and are overly vaccinated. While I do agree with her, I think this problem goes even deeper than that. We, as a society, have gotten away from disciplining and guiding our children. (Don’t go nuts on me and think I mean beating your children to death. To discipline means to guide and instruct, and there are various ways in which to do so.)
Discipline your son, and he will give you comfort; he will bring delight to your soul. (Proverbs 29:17)
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
Sadly, many parents just allow their children to do whatever they want, and others ignore them completely and allow others, such as teachers, to “deal” with teaching their children. That is completely wrong on many levels. Children were not meant to go at it alone. They are foolish, by definition, and they are supposed to be. They are kids learning how to be human beings.
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)
People are leaning more and more towards acquiring “junk” and devices rather than a good daily dose of face-to-face social interaction, human contact and service to fellow man these days, and I think that is a breeding ground for problems. We’re too busy as parents (or lazy or careless) and so we provide them with “substitutes” (like these devices and other unnecessary “stuff”). Many kids are left to fend for themselves and make many big decisions alone for the most part. I know I would have gone mad if that had happened to me over the span of my young life, and I might end up having “First World Problems” as an adult. We put more value on to-do lists, blog posts, taking family photos, careers, (fill-in-the-blank) than we do on just spending time with and teaching our kids. Even if we don’t mean to or think those things more important, our actions speak much louder, and our poor kids are taking the brunt of it. (I know I am guilty of it as well.) There are no substitutes for good old-fashioned parenting.
We, as parents, are supposed to raise them, which means we must guide them in the right direction in order to make them good adult citizens of our future society. We need to love them and teach them what is good, right, and important – what really matters in life. If we don’t discipline them as children, they don’t magically lose that foolishness when they grow up. In fact, it might become worse. Then as adults they try to assimilate into society and become inept and dysfunctional and feel entitled. They don’t know how not to make foolish choices. No one taught them.
Okay, so I know that these adults are to be held accountable for their actions (Believe me, I am a BIG believer that no matter what your circumstances were growing up, you ultimately have a choice for your own behavior and how you turn out. I don’t use my past circumstances as a crutch or an excuse and won’t tolerate many people who do. But that’s a whole other topic of which I feel I am somewhat qualified on speaking.), but at some point parents are also to blame. We need to start taking responsibility for our children and their actions while they are young, so that we can ensure that they will become successfully equipped to be productive and capable human beings in society.
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
If we don’t, we may have more of these tragedies to look forward to, and I am not willing to expose my kids to them. Yes, I know I can’t hide in a bubble, but it still makes me want to move to a place in which parents still care about teaching kids proper behavior and respect. You know, a place that actually puts emphasis on family and raising adults.