Monday, July 3, 2017

Training Children

Recent events have highlighted some serious problems in American society.  A protest is when people who feel strongly about a particular issue work together to get the policies changed.  It is focused on accomplishing a particular goal, and is what the constitution referred to when it said the right of the people to assemble shall not be abridged.  A riot, on the other hand, has no specific goal other than expressing people’s anger.  The protest is like a child asking his mother to buy him a toy, while the riot is like the child throwing a temper tantrum to try to get his way.  The protest respects the rights of others, while the riot ignores everything but their own anger.  A temper tantrum by a 2 year old probably will not do much harm other than upsetting everyone around, and people just blow it off with the thought that his parents need to teach him how to behave properly. 

A riot by teenagers or adults does serious harm, frequently resulting in destruction of businesses, homes or cars, physical injuries and even deaths. They are a clear indicator that the parents did not teach them to behave properly when they were children so they are still throwing tantrums.  They are too immature to address their problems in effectively.  That so many recent protests have turned into riots clearly demonstrates a serious lack of maturity among American adults.  In many cases they are incapable of even explaining why they want what they are demanding coherently. They are just like the little child who thought the toy looked pretty with no concern for what it did or whether he would like playing with it later.  Because the parents did not deal with the children’s temper tantrums when they were small, and so they continued to throw them.  Years of practice at throwing the tantrums makes them much harder to deal with.  Vandalism, school shootings, gang violence, and murders are other common ways of throwing tantrums.

We have been dealing with these kinds of things since the protest/riots of the 1960’s, and is clear that the popular and politically mandated solutions have not stopped the problem, any more effectively than they have solved poverty or the drug problems.  Clearly, we need to take a different approach. 

Experience has taught that when the obvious solutions don’t fix it, it is useful to go back in time to see what precipitated or triggered the problem.  Frequently, it shows some things that have changed which allowed the problem to occur.  When we look back in history to see when the problem began to appear we find that the acceptance of psychology as a science resulted in new philosophies as to how children should be raised.  Dr. Spock and other writers popularized those philosophies and people became concerned that they would damage the child’s ego by teaching them to respect others and not to throw tantrums.  The first generation of children raised with that philosophy began coming of age in the early 1960’s, leading to many legitimate protests turning into riots.  They have taught their children and grandchildren the same philosophies, and today we are seeing the results, with many so-called “protests” having no other goal than to cause disruptions. 

To fix the problems, it will be necessary to go back and correct the things that have caused it, and this means changing our philosophy of child rearing   Fortunately the original philosophy had been around for hundreds of years and had proven effective so we do not have to develop something completely from scratch, and Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  If we properly train our children, they will not fall for the newer philosophies, even though they are surrounded by people who hold them. 

It is important to understand that the verse does not say teach the child what he should do.  Instead, it says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”   Training for a sport implies not only teaching the basic principles of right and wrong, but of actually practicing them until they become the natural response.  The necessary muscles repeat the actions until they automatically do things the right way, and in the process become strong enough to do the job.  When they have trained properly, a person will still remember how to perform the action years after they have last played.    

When we work with our children so consistently and steadily, not only teaching them what is right, but demonstrating it in our daily lives consistently and insisting on their correcting their mistakes and doing it right in their lives, we can so thoroughly ingrain the right thing into their minds that they naturally do those things.  Unfortunately, most parent and teachers are not willing to put in the practice and consistency effective training requires.  They give verbal instructions and hope the kids do not notice how often they do not follow the principles they have shared.  Since kids learn more from what they see demonstrated than what they hear, they follow the example rather than the lesson, and unless they actively practice it, they soon forget even what they have seen demonstrated.  As a result, even most Christian kids don’t really know how to do what is right, and a large percentage of them turn away. 

If we do not want our children to just go along with the world’s philosophies, we Christians ae going to have to make a commitment to train our children properly.  The first step will be to learn what is right ourselves, and then to begin to practice it consistently.  If we are not willing to make the commitment ourselves, we should not be surprised if our children adopt the world’s standards.    After all, they are only doing what we taught them.  

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