By Helen K. Hosier
“Children now love luxury, they show disrespect for their elders; desire chatter rather than study; are now the tyrants not the servants of their households; contradict their parents and tyrannize their teachers.”
Does this sound like a fitting description of any children you know or hear about on TV, or read about in the newspaper? Before you answer, let me tell you that those words were written by Socrates over 2,400 years ago! The children about which Socrates wrote would today be called problem children or worse!
The observation is frequently made in one way or another that there wouldn’t be so many problem children if parents paid more attention to their children’s problems.
Someone has suggested, “Perhaps parents and teachers would work with more zeal if they stopped to remember that the film of childhood can never be run through for a second time.” God tells us to train up a child in the way he should go so that even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6) Many examples from the past and today’s culture exist that provide proof that children whose lives have been illumined by biblical precepts and godly training arrive at adulthood prepared to live out their lives in a far better way than those who have not had this. The busyness in so many homes crowds out the time required for such training, and children are deprived of that which will see them through their lives. The Bible speaks of it as being driven away (see Ecclesiastes 3:15).
A Supreme Court Justice from the past has been quoted as saying that a juvenile raised on prayer in the home is unlikely to become a problem child in the community outside. The book of Ecclesiastes tells us this is what God seeks. The passing of Billy Graham, for instance, and the stories of his life, for example, have been recounted and remembered on television and in the print media providing much food for thought. In a personal interview with Billy’s Mother, and the subsequent privilege of helping write her book (They Call Me Mother Graham, Revell Publishers 1977), she shared how she and her husband established a family altar in their home and provided biblical instruction for their children. She told me, “I certainly never thought that one of our children would become a Christian leader, recognized worldwide, when we as a family gathered together every evening to read the Bible…Through the years, as I have seen and heard Billy preach, I have watched as he holds up the Bible and says, “The Bible says . . . .’ That is an expression he uses often. I am thankful Billy Frank heard it repeated in our home. The Bible says, ‘A wise man heareth his father’s instruction’ (Prov. 13:1).’”
When I hear about school shootings, violence and terrorist acts, I find myself wondering what the family life of the individuals was who did these terrible things. Mrs. Graham said, “Billy has preached some fine messages on the influence of a godly home through the years. Understandably my husband’s heart and my own were deeply moved as we heard him say the things that we tried to put into practice in our home.” She explained “Each of our children, in one way or another, has thanked us many times over for our times of family devotions. They have said that these times together taught them what they wouldn’t have learned on their own.
“Mr. Graham and I wanted the children to grow up to know and honor the Word of God. We recognized that if this were to happen, they would need to hear the Word of the Lord spoken and discussed within our home….When we turn children loose from the home, sometimes they find the Lord, but often tines they don’t. I did not want to run that risk with our children. The home is the place to receive training from the Word of God.”
The words of the wise, godly woman that Billy Graham’s mother was, are worth hearing and being attentive to what she said: “As I view the situation in the world – crime, immorality, rebellious youth, a weakening family life, and the prevailing conditions throughout the land – I feel very strongly that if Deuteronomy 6:4-7 were practiced by parents, we would see far less unrest and problems in the world. This entire sixth chapter speaks to me of God-given home life and was most important in the bringing up of our children: “…These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
Another shooting at a school in Houston, Texas, prompted me to write this column. I’m not intending to be judgmental or to sound like a Bible-thumping Mother/Grandmother. But we are living in dangerous times and I follow my conscience and the dictates of my heart. This comes with a prayer that God will help and bless the reader.