Thursday, December 8, 2016

The stealing of youth. . .

In the great and profound movie Uncle Buck a little girl, niece to Uncle Buck, has been found not to be serious.  Her family, Uncle Buck has to suffice, is summoned to the principal's office to be counseled about the dangers of silliness.  After listening a while to the "experts", Uncle Buck (John Candy) retorts:  I don't think I want to know a six-year-old who isn't a dreamer, or a sillyheart. And I sure don't want to know one who takes their student career seriously.

One of the things the modern generation of parenting has done is to steal the childhood of our children and endow them with all the fears, worries, anxieties, and problems of adults in an adult world.  Our children have been given the weighty concerns of world peace, terrorism, ecology, social justice, etc... and then we wonder why they have such phobias and cannot sleep.

We flood the airwaves with adult themes (not thinking here primarily of sex) but of the brutal terrors of war in the Middle East and then wonder why our kids do not feel safe.  On top of it all we take great pains to prevent our children from associating terrorism and its brutality played out on the news with any religion or region.  God forbid they become Islamophobes!  We plead (rightly so) the case of the refugees from economic and war-torn areas and then plaster the sins of some of these refugees over the media so that our children do not know if they should welcome the stranger or hunker down with armament and bullet proof vest.  We have parlayed the domain of children's television with all sorts of adult problems like global warming so that a kid cannot even watch a cartoon without getting a lecture on green living and then wonder why they worry about their futures.  We insist that by age 7 they have chosen their gender and come to terms with all that this gender choice may hold in consequences.  We turn our children into political pawns and insist to them that one candidate or the other is the devil incarnate and then wonder why these children fear the present and the future.  We make cops into storm troopers and then wonder why they do not feel safe around police or would fear calling them when threatened.

I wonder if overly protective parents have not taught our children unintended lessons.  Are we so afraid that they might eat some dirt or get a booboo from play or not have the right career or gender choice in mind that we have taught them and they have learned to be fearful of everything -- even life?  Did our own parents do such a terrible job allowing us the freedom to be children (at least for a while) that we have to correct their mistakes by making them suffer for these wrongs?

They are children, after all, and they should have the chance to live at least a portion of their lives without the burden of so many adult problems and fears. Can we not allow them a little silliness?  Is it too much to let the dream or laugh or skip carelessly along the path?  I am NOT saying we should not instill good values, teach them of their Good Shepherd who cares for them, or direct them into the arms of the Savior who risked all to redeem them.  What I am saying is that we can wait to place upon them the problems we inherited or created within the world order, global warming, green living, racial justice, and gender identity.  Children generally are friendly and have to be taught racism.  Children generally are hopeful and have to be taught to be captive to their fears.  Children generally sleep well after their prayers and a kiss from mom and dad.  Children do not need to be overly burdened with what frets us as adults.  Their time will come. 

If we raise them in the Christian faith, instill in them the values of the Kingdom, teach them to know and trust God and His Word, and treat people fairly, they will get their chance to fix the wrongs we pass on to them.  Just don't rob them of their childhood, require them to be always serious, demonize silliness, and insist that their child size hearts carry around adult size fears for the problems for which we are mostly responsible. 


Ted Badje said...

If people no longer come to the Church, or even other communities of faith, then there is despair. It is especially rough on children these days, from what they see in the media.

Cliff said...

Great article as usual Pastor Peters!