Youth and Home - Part 2

Date: 01/01/1980 
Our nation is morally degrading more and more each year. Christian parents are called to help prepare their children for heaven. This broadcast focuses on parenting children for the Lord.
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Now, let's think a little deeper about children, parents, and families. You know the laws of human relations are exact and certain. The conditions in homes will lead almost inevitably to certain problems. We can predict it. It is a heart-breaking thing to see boys and girls of tender impressionable ages receiving permanent damage for all future time. There is no question but what many parents are following a course which will inevitably destroy their children. Now I do not say they do it intentionally, but the results are just as disastrous as if they deliberately planned to destroy their children. The first duty of parents is to learn how to take care of their children. There's no other responsibility greater, nothing supersedes it. We need to remind ourselves often that money, success, popularity, and every other object in life is less than nothing if we lose our own children. Christian parents should realize that God has given them the children to prepare for heaven. It's a divine, sacred stewardship from God.

When should we start training and teaching the children? Here is where one of the greatest mistakes is made. We must not wait until they reach the age of reason. This is the way many parents feel, they say: "Well, we won't worry about them while they're just infants in the cradle, we'll wait till they can understand what we teach them." That's all a terrible mistake, friends. Those little babies are bundles of emotion. Those emotions and that will can be molded even while it is still in the cradle. Do not underestimate those years. Dr. E. T. Sullivan said this: "When God wants a great work done in the world, or a great wrong righted, He goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn't stir up His earthquakes, or send forth His thunderbolts. Instead, He has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother's heart and she puts it into the baby's mind and then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts, the greatest forces in the world are babies." And we all have to say that, that is right. What that child becomes depends almost entirely upon the parents. To a very large degree the disposition of the child is settled by home influences. Oh, how important that the child grows in a calm and peaceful atmosphere. When emotions boil up around a baby, they have an effect. There is never an age when the baby will not absorb the tensions as well as the love that is present about him. Habits formed in those earliest years will shape the character of life throughout all future time. Happy are those parents who have laid a strong foundation. Then when the testing emergency years come later on, the young people will be held to the principles they learned early in life.

A four-year-old was running away from home. He told his mother he was, and she helped him pack one of the large suitcases to take with him. He was out on the sidewalk walking up and down with the big suitcase when one of the neighbors came by and said: "Where are you going, Charles?" He said, "Well, I'm running away from home." The neighbor said, "You can't go very far on this side of the street." He said, "Yes, but I'm not allowed to cross it."

You see, that early training was coming through in obedience. Now let us move up to the teenage stage. Here more than all other ages the young people need companionship of the parents. The teenager is filled with deep anxieties. Conflicts are raging there that he does not understand himself. New urges are being felt and he is trying to find his place under the sun. This is the time when youth starts choosing between conflicting standards. There is a struggle for independence, and he is very liable to flaunt adult rules if he can get by with it. And yet, these same teenagers desire the approval of their parents. Don't be fooled, parents, by the independent ways and seeming indifference of young people at this age. They still need you and want you. They may not express it very much, but they still feel the need of affection and approval. It is a dangerous age, friends, because this is where the foundation will be tested. If the home has been filled with love, if kindness and unselfishness have been placed into the foundation stones of the character, the young person will come through now with shining colors. The home ties will hold him fast if the foundation has been laid correctly.

Right here let me mention some problems that have been faced scores of times. Oh, consistency is so necessary in dealing with children. Parents should stick together, especially on the matter of discipline. If there is a disagreement before the child on matters of right and wrong, it simply confuses the child. When parents contradict each other, the child takes advantage of it and begins to play both ends against the middle and soon the child is having his way. A united front is needed in this matter.

Now let's take a moment longer with the early teens. This age is the time when children should be free to grow and develop their personality. There's generally no problem unless parents create one or encourage one. Unfortunately in our worldly society a terrible thing has happened. Parents have actually pushed their children into a premature preoccupation with sex and marriage. Now maybe some parents are not willing to admit this, friends, but the result has been seen and compiled by some of the leading sociologists of our time. Thousands of teenage marriages have been contracted and then have fallen apart. The greatest tragedy is that those youth were never really prepared for life at all. They lost out on a whole phase of their growth and development. They were pushed from childhood into adulthood almost without that important period of development. Why did those children turn so quickly from paper dolls and mud pies to thoughts of marriage? Through parental influence, even urging, sometimes.

Public school leaders are alarmed about it, secular authorities are very much concerned, and Christian parents should be even more so. It is creeping in among all levels of society. Satan is laying his snares for children, he knows that their emotions are very strong at this time, and so he begins to stir up thoughts about dating and pairing off, even at the tender ages of 12, 13, and 14. One of the greatest mistakes that parents could make is to encourage this premature interest in the opposite sex. Now this is not being harsh, friends, it is simply abiding by the laws of our being. It is being wise enough to understand and accept the rules of nature. Too many have been hurt and swept away by trying to break the rules.

I wonder if you are brave enough and wise enough to reign yourselves up, parents. Are you willing to come to grips with this thing? You have got too much to lose if you fail here. You cannot afford to let those precious children go astray. The odds are against us, but God is for us. Oh, it does not matter what others are doing. Those children will come in and try to take advantage and say, "Well, everybody else is doing it, all my friends are going this way and that's what I want to do." The pressure of conformity is strong, friends, no doubt about it. The forces of public opinion are going to wield a mighty influence on your children, but hold the line. Do what you know is right. Have the courage to take a stand and draw the line straight for your children. They really want you to do it. They will be disappointed if you do not. You will lose some of their respect if you give way before them, let them have their own way when they don't even know what they want anyway. You have experience, you know where the dangers lie. Be brave enough and courageous enough to tell them and let them know where the safe paths lie for their feet.

This is a serious matter, friends. A great problem permeates every level of our society today. Children and young people are suffering the greatest damage and loss. It is time for us to see just where we're going and in what direction we are headed. What is happening to our children, what is happening to our young people. We must save them. We must hold them somehow and this is the plan. There is no higher responsibility in this world than to teach them and train them aright.

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