“Kids These Days!”
If you have made it this far make sure you read the whole blog lest you think I am completely heartless and just haven’t lived long enough. As best I can, I acknowledge that I have a lot to learn, but some of the best learning is preparedness.
I was at my son’s Y Soccer game this past week and I crossed paths with a lady who said to no one specific, but herself I suppose, “Kids these days!” I have no idea what she was referring to or if she meant me to hear her, but heard her loud and clear I did. I don’t even know if she was talking about her own children, but the statement was lodged in my mind, stuck like gum on hot pavement.
I’ll be the first to say a lot has changed since I was a boy. Children are different because they live in a different time and have different stuff and face different challenges and temptations. Things have changed and people are changing, and when we look at children and teenagers we see a lot that is unrecognizable compared to our own upbringing. But is it right to say: “Kids these days!”?
I’m waiting for someone to say: “Parents these days!”
The reality is that children sleep in the beds that are made for them because that is all they have ever known. Formative environment cannot be underestimated. Of course it is true that children will eventually start making their own beds and they will have to accept responsibility for their decisions. And sometimes despite the best efforts of parents, children still make devastating and painful choices. This problem is as old as the world (Genesis 4 – Cain and Abel). But we can’t ignore that if there is a trajectory or cultural, consistent tendency among children to be disrespectful or spoiled, then can we do anything but conclude that we don’t have kid problem but a parenting problem? And by the way, really the root problem is a sin problem, but even then, who holds the primary responsibility for addressing that problem?
When I see either of my two sons acting up or out, especially in public, I sometimes get frustrated and even embarrassed, but if I stop to think about what I am witnessing, I often see microcosms of my own flawed tendencies. If I stop to honestly ask why they do what they do, I almost always see myself in them. As an adult I can manage and mask my shortcomings, but children are not so experienced at this craft and in the process I get exposed. This can be painful and yet healthy. We need to be exposed and children do it well.
So here’s the application. Parents have to take responsibility for the fact that their children are reflections of their own lives – good and bad. It’s the nature of all of life. Close and personal proximity leads to the transmission of habits, character, beliefs, etc. I am culpable for what my children believe and how they behave. I share in the responsibility for the people my children are and will become.
Here’s the rub though. Despite our best efforts to train up a child in the way they should go, they might still crash their lives and hurt others in the process. I would think though that this would only motivate a parent more. This possibility ought to make us want to live Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and heed the warning of Psalm 78 with all our might. It ought to make us pray with great consistency. It ought to make us examine ourselves and our children to see if what we are doing in moderation is leading to dangerous excess in the lives of those we say we love so very much. Parenting ought to drive us to cherish the gospel and live to righteousness because of the gospel (1 Peter 2:24).
We can’t ignore our influence and shirk our responsibility. The reality is that a lot of the reason our kids are the way that they are is because they are our kids and we have passed on to them what we value and the way we live. Every person will give an account to God for their actions. The Bible says as much over and over, but that means also that every parent will give an account for their child’s life-long foundation and direction. In God’s strength, I hope every Christ-following parent will live like that is true.