Monday, November 23, 2015
No news is good news. . .
It makes me wonder what kind of toll this is all taking on us a society. Bad news travels too fast and it gets to the point where we are not sure whether or where to hide from it all. As bad as this is for adults, what are we doing to our children? I was talking with parents who describe the fears their children express -- fears not of monsters under the bed but of the real death and loss of the parents, siblings, and loved ones. I cannot recall my own children expressing such fears and it makes me wonder whether any of us realizes the intense stress and anxiety we are placing upon our children who absorb bad news like a sponge and often without knowing what to do with it all.
As hard as it is for me, once a confirmed news junkie, to say this -- I think it has gone too far. I think it is high time to exercise a little discretion and to allow our children to be children for a while. We have placed academic pressure upon the preschool, the kindergarten, and the elementary school to the point where we drug every antsy child, ditch recess in favor of prep for standardized tests, and insist that they choose a vocation by age 7 or they will fall behind the learning curve of their peers. We have stolen their fun and steal every game which threatens to leave them with a hang nail or else we impose rules upon the game designed to prevent winning or losing. Even recess is no fun anymore. And then we leave them to the mournful sounds of tragedy, trouble, trial, and terror that is the news. No wonder we are prescribing anxiety medicines to our kids!
No doubt the pressures on moms and dads in this regard are greater than were upon me or my parents. They may not be able to escape fully the constant press of bad news, the onslaught of fear, and the accompanying anxiety but their role as parents requires them to provide a childhood for their children. Part of the comfort of the children flows from their confidence in God's providential care, in the presence of God when fear and terror are also found, and the power of God to fight for us that we may endure the twists and turns of this mortal life and remain faithful.
I am not suggesting that we raise our children to be naive but I do believe that we should carefully discern the amount of bad news they absorb from the news. We cannot prevent them from hearing or experiencing the reality of our fallen world but we surely owe them the full benefit of Christ's steadfast and enduring love as their strength, support, and security in uncertain times and amid the real despair all around us. From ISIS to sex predators to hidden enemies, there is no shortage of fear. What there is a shortage of is confidence in God's providence, courage of faith amid disappointment and within the darkness of the times, and the consolation of God's mercy when things are bleakest. If you are a parent, do your children a favor. Make sure they know even better God's merciful love and protection as they know the things that foster the power of fear and terror in their lives.
Our children see way too much violence, they are dulled by the constant barrage of erotic images, they learn too quickly what the little blue pill does but not to delay medical treatment for an erection lasting more than four hours, and the constant disappointment of our leaders, our institutions, and our role models... they do not hear enough about God's goodness, about His never-failing love, about His mercies new every morning, about the wonder of His creation, and the surprise of grace. If there is a kid at your home, think about what they see and hear from others and what they need to see and hear from you. Children are resilient but they are not indestructible. Whether yours is a picture perfect household or a broken home with one parent barely keeping it together, don't let your children grow up to a constant string of bad news. It steals their childhood and, even worse, it embitters and poisons their adulthood.