By: Spencer Young
His third marriage had ended. He had received his second DUI. His head draped over the swirling coffee as he stirred in the creamer. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t accept life on life’s terms. He wondered why he carried such anger and why he couldn’t hold a job. If God loved him so much, how could his life be so miserable?
I’ve known him for a lot of years. I know his background. Growing up, I thought he had the perfect life. His parents didn’t get drunk and beat each other up. They took him to church. They did everything for him-got him everything. But today, knowing what I know, they did too much. They meant well; they didn’t want him to get hurt-to face pain. They didn’t want him to be uncomfortable. They unfortunately failed to realize that in this life, there will be pain; there will be discomfort. As a result, instead of protecting him from it, they caused it by making his life so comfortable that he didn’t know how to deal with it when it got tough. His problems started as soon as he got out on his own. His inability to accept life’s difficulty started his dependence on lots of unhealthy people, places, habits, and things. He is a great guy, and it is painful to see him hurt.
I am not a preacher, teacher, counselor, or therapist. I don’t claim to know anything about the inner workings of the mind or spirit. So why should I have the nerve to write this?
God has blessed me with a comprehension and sense of understanding of basic cause and effect. Sometimes it’s not that hard to understand that when things go up, they come down. It’s not hard to see how our training prepares us (or leaves us unprepared) for the task at hand. God himself has had to reach in and pull out some of the negative effects of the way I was trained as a child and teen. Some of the effects of the negative character traits I learned set a fairly painful course in my early adult life. As a father now, I struggle with doing some of this stuff right-because it’s hard sometimes. It’s easy to just let kids go and raise themselves-but it’s not so good for them. If kids could raise themselves, there would be no reason God should have them come from us-He could just make them show up riding in a basket carried by a bird.
Our kids need us. They need our love. They need our protection from evil. They also need our discipline. They need our instruction-even when it doesn’t “jive” with their own plans. I believe that we as parents are failing our kids. I think we are so consumed with the things of this life that we don’t pay enough attention to their character and spiritual development. I know for a fact that this is setting them up for a terrible struggle. Think about some of your own struggles. They hurt, don’t they? Now think about your child, innocent and pure. Do you want them to have unnecessary painful internal struggle? Of course you don’t-you love them too much. I beg you, take an inventory of your parenting, and if there are things to be changed, PLEASE, begin changing it today.
These are some of my observations and opinions of negative parenting cause and effect. They are not necessarily correct, but I’ll bet they are close.
- Do everything for them. Go clean their room after you’ve told them to do it three or four times. Take away their opportunity to take pride in their work at an early age; they will be thanking you every time they are fired from a job due to non-performance.
- Shield them from consequences for their actions. Gnash your teeth at the teachers who challenge their negative behaviors. Do the school project for them-the one they put off for the last three months-the night before it’s due; they knew you would anyway. You wouldn’t want them to get a bad grade and face the embarrassment of not having a completed assignment, would you? Do this successfully and they may someday be shocked at having to go to jail for breaking the law, indignant when they can’t get into college because they didn’t take the steps to register, or puzzled at how they became a teenage father.
- Shield them from disappointment. Be sure to protect them from any negative emotion. Don’t run the risk of disappointment-be sure to get them anything their heart desires. Don’t help them learn to successfully deal with emotions-good or bad. Trust me, they will find a way-or a multitude of ways-to deal with their negative emotions.
- Make excuses for their failures. Be sure to convince them that they can do no wrong. Do this by blaming everyone and everything except them for their failures. They will grow up blaming the world for their shortcomings, and pointing fingers everywhere except toward the mirror when they “blow it”. They will have a victim mentality and will see injustice in everything that doesn’t go their way. (They will also be pointing fingers at you.)
- Take them to church and don’t live out your faith at home. Let your home life function contrary to the teachings you hear every Sunday. Get drunk at home. Cuss, yell, and fight. Run with rank heathens. Cheat on your spouse. Watch filthy movies-listen to bad music. Or just live out a spiritually “neutral” life. But be sure to get to church on time! You will ensure that they grow up with a disdain for “religion”. After all, it never did anything for your family and you “went to church all the time”. They will reject the One Thing that can give them life and peace, and will look for that fulfillment in people, money, substances, food, popularity, etc. Don’t show them the real Jesus; that would make their life make too much sense.
- Let them watch movies with sex, violence, and language. Let them listen to music with the same qualities. The television has been a wonderful babysitter through the years. Don’t worry about the content-just let it flood their innocent hearts and minds. Help contribute to a mind becoming hopelessly cluttered with negativity, despair, and lust. Just don’t be surprised at the garbage-it went in; it’s coming out.
- Allow them to show disrespect to you and other adults. Allow them to remain silent when spoken to. Let them yell at you, talk sarcastically, or ignore your comments or requests. You are in charge of building their character so if you don’t mind them fighting all authority-from Bible class teachers, later employers, then maybe someday the police-just let them treat you any old way they want to.
Remember, today when they are small, it doesn’t seem like that big a deal. I mean, how much trouble can a five year old get into, anyway? My observation is that a little disobedience gone un-dealt-with today is a lot of sneaking out of the house to find trouble as a teen. Take it or leave it. Just please give it some honest thought.