Years back, the Houston Police Department, with a sly wink, distributed a pamphlet listing ways to raise juvenile delinquents. For instance…
- Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.
- When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. He will think he’s cute.
- Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is 21 and then “let him decide for himself.”
- Avoid the use of “wrong.” He may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.
- Pick up everything he leaves lying around. Do everything for him so that he will know how to throw all responsibility on others.
- Take his part against neighbors, teachers and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.
- Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they won’t be so shocked when the home is broken up later.
- Give the child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own.
- Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that his every sensual desire is gratified.
- Let him read any printed material and listen to any music he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.
- When he gets into real trouble, apologize to yourself by saying, “I could never do anything with him.”
The old pamphlet illustrates that sometimes bad parenting becomes painfully obvious.
Still, Christian parents who have poured their hearts into raising their children, who have tried their best and are acutely aware of their own weaknesses, may take some comfort that even God, who is a perfect Father, has prodigal sons and daughters. They are grateful that the blood of Jesus scrubs clean the imperfections of even their best efforts. They take neither comfort nor guidance from self-righteous “Monday morning quarterbacks” telling them how they could have done better.
The Scriptures do summon fathers to reflect their heavenly Father, to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. There are positive pointers: Often, “love” is spelled T I M E…take time for your children. Hug them and don’t be afraid to say, “I love you.” Fathers, love and respect your children’s mother. It filters down! Balance the law and gospel as you discipline – but do not fear to discipline. Discipline yourself also! Let them see Christ in the way you live your life, in how you talk to them. Sit down to a family meal and talk with each other. Fathers, lead your children in family devotions. (A nightly Bible story, a page out of Meditations after supper, bringing Jesus and his word into everyday conversations – do something! – and bring them – not just send them – to church.) Let them see YOU as a man who loves Jesus. Pray for them. Thank God for them. Remember that God is YOUR loving and forgiving Father too. And by the way, HAPPY FATHERS DAY!