Homes that Fail - Part 2

Teenagers are sidetracked in unhappiness. There are factors in the home that feed that. A lack of consistency has not helped young people. Neither does pushing teens to grow up faster than they should. They need time to mature through each stage of their lives.
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Do you realize that in six years time teenage spending jumped from $2 billion to $18 billion? I wish we could leave the statistics at that and just feel grateful for all the fresh young minds and bodies to help solve the twentieth century problems. But we also must face the alarming fact that 15-year-old boys are currently committing more crime than any other age group, and teenage divorce rates are double that of the national average.

In our last broadcast, we introduced the subject of parents and the home. We learned that the attitude and happiness of the mother and father would have an immeasurable effect on the child.

Today we are going to continue searching for the place where young people get side- tracked into their own personal involvement with unhappiness. And, in particular, we want to find factors in the home which may lead to their difficulties. I'd like to mention something at this point which has been a real problem, and I've seen it over and over again. I've had to deal with it repeatedly. If there is anything in this world that young people notice, if there is anything they are sensitive to in parents and in the church, it is "consistency." Young people like to see consistency. They don't want to be pulled this way and that way, and to have several paths set before them. They like to know what is right and wrong, and they like for parents to draw the line for them and to show them what is right and wrong, so that there will be no frustrating uncertainty in their minds as to what to do. Parents must stick together when they deal with young people. First of all, in the manner of discipline they should present a united front to those children. Any time you find father and mother disagreeing before the child on matters of right and wrong, you find confusion and frustration. Any teenager who is normal will pit parent against parent when he finds that they are divided on this matter of discipline, and he will take advantage of the disagreement. It will lead to nothing but sorrow. There must be a uniting on the part of the parents. If ever you need to disagree on any dealing with your children, go into another room and do it. Don't ever do it before them, so that they see your division.

Now let's think about the development of those boys and girls. During their teenage period young people should be free to develop their personality and their life. Now let me explain what I mean here. I think that any child, when these seeds of truth are planted in his life early, is going to grow like a plant. I believe he will grow in a natural, normal way. His personality will develop as God leads him little by little and step by step. But we are now faced in this old world of ours with the peculiar problem of parents trying to push their children into a premature maturity before they actually are ready for it. The leaders in educational circles today are greatly concerned about it. The educators are very much upset about this preoccupation that parents have for their children, trying to make them grow up into adults before they are ready to grow up. The result has been, in our society, that thousands and thousands of teenage marriages have taken place and then fallen apart very quickly. They have finally diagnosed the reason for all this, and I think they have diagnosed it correctly. They have discovered that parents are mostly responsible, because they have pushed their children, and pressed them, and tried to make them take on adult ways before they were ready to take on adult ways. Children wanted to stay in their childhood while they were still children, but parents would not allow them to do so. The greatest tragedy of all is that those children are not prepared for life. They missed out on one whole phase of their development because their parents didn't leave them in that stage long enough to really mature in that particular stage. They were snatched from the cradle and rushed madly through the very period in which they should have been allowed to grow slowly.

Now, you may think that this is just an idea of mine. I think, though, that you have been reading something for yourselves. Some time ago I saw an article in the newspaper, written by Dr. Margaret Mead, who is a world famous sociologist. This is what she said in the article. (By the way, the title of it is: "Pushed Into Adulthood, Expert Says Children Are Cheated.") "We are doing a very bad job today in not allowing our children to realize their full humanity. Instead of letting boys and girls go their separate ways in late childhood and adolescence, we are forcing them on each other. Forcing them to practice, not how to be individuals, but how to be spouses and parents. Catapulting them into premature, half-baked adulthood before they have a chance to grow up as individuals.

"Parents are now almost equally engaged in pushing their children of both sexes into premature sex activities and early marriage, combined with pressure for an early safe career choice. We are robbing both boys and girls of mankind's most precious possession,, childhood. So we have made marriage the price of freedom for both boys and girls. Little girls endowed by nature with as great a capacity for learning as the boys are, spend the precious years of childhood no longer playing with dolls, which was at least centered on later responsible maternity, but playing at sexual attractions, how to look and be like the kind of girl whom some boys will want to marry soon. This premature pushing of little girls into precocious sexuality is very easy to do. Little girls, with mothers at home for models, fall more easily into an adult female role than little boys, whose fathers seem far more distant and more difficult to imitate."

Well, she has a lot to say there, and friends, there is an awful lot of truth in what she has written. Mothers do this without realizing it. Both parents do it without realizing it. Because society seems to be moving along in that direction, they feel that it must be all right. The children of today are not like the children were back in the days of fifty years ago. Of course, the times have changed, but children still need time to grow into individuals. And that time is the very period that parents are using to push their children, to throw them together, and to try to pair them off. They seem desperate as though they will never be able to find a husband or a wife, and so they have got to start the children experimenting with this courtship and premature coupling off.

Well, I could say a lot about this, because I've had to deal with a lot of problems along this very same line. Some time ago there was an article in the Reader's Digest entitled; "Marriage Is Not For Children." I hope all of you read it. It begins this way: "It was a beautiful wedding. True, the bride was only sixteen and the groom just nineteen, but they looked grown up as they stood there, she so radiant, he so tall and protecting. No one could foretell that less than a year later this fine young man would say to this lovely girl, ‘I wish you were dead, because then I'd be free.' Or that later the same day she would slash her wrists. Yes, that is what happened to Clarica and Ralph, two New York City youngsters whose case is in the files of the Family Service Association of America." I have got a few cases similar to it in my files, friends, and it didn't happen in New York City. "Their plight is tragic indeed, but perhaps even more shocking is the reason behind it. Clarica and thousands of other high school age youngsters are actually propelled to these pitiable situations by their own parents who don't realize what they are doing." And this is the real tragedy, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." And this writer goes on to say, "Disastrous premature marriages such as this are now one of America's great social problems. According to the U. S. Bureau of Vital Statistics more and more girls are marrying early. In many cases the initial push comes from the parents." It goes on to tell about parents who try to get their daughters to wear high heeled shoes and to put on provocative clothes, even while they are still little twelve and thirteen year old children. Educators and psychologists explain these actions. "What happens when dancing and kissing become kid-stuff? Will newer thrills be sought at an appalling and tender age? And how much harm is done to a child's sense of personal worth when he is plunged into a social and sexual whirl at a time when he is least sure he can handle himself in it?"

This writer gives a few suggestions at the end of the article as to what parents can do, especially concerning their little girls. They can take these positive steps while their girls are growing up:

"1. Understand that early dating is dangerous, even if everyone else is doing it. And have the courage to take a firm stand against it.

2. Neither permit nor encourage a hectic social life for the eleven to fourteen year olds. Remember that the best advantage that you can give a young girl is the ability to be self reliant. And she can learn that only by having time to be alone and at peace just with and by herself.

3. De-emphasize things that are too sophisticated for young girls.

4. When girls get together with boys, discourage the imitation of adults, and encourage activities appropriate to their ages. Refuse to permit parties where the boys bring their own girls." How sound that counsel is, dear friends.

"5. Make your daughter feel that it is great to be just what she is. A child who is unhappy in her age group looks forward to the next one where things may be better. As she grows, express your deep interest in what she is doing. Praise efforts and accomplishments warmly and often.

6. Make her home an attractive, inviting place. Many young girls marry early to escape from an unhappy home." And that is very true.

It is something for us to think about, dear friends, as Christian parents. Now this is not harsh, but it is simply abiding by the laws of our being. We have to acknowledge these laws, friends, because they do exist and they are certain and definite in their operation. We should be wise enough to abide by the rules, else we will be swept away and hurt in trying to break those rules. Are we brave enough or wise enough to do it? Are we willing to step in and take a firm hand and prevent the thing which will finally end up to our greatest remorse and unhappiness? If we are willing to come to grips with it today, the Lord will help in the saving of our precious young people. But if we are not wise enough to take the rules that God has laid down, friends, then we can't expect anything else except disaster. What does the Bible say? "Train them up in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it." What does it mean? Are we sure we are bringing them up in the way they should go?

You know something, friends, I don't believe that any Christian parent can truly say that they have brought up their children in the way that they should go unless they provide the maximum of spiritual Christian influence in their life. Do you think so? Now here is where a wonderful Christian education system comes into operation. This is the way to safeguard those young people, my friends, and put them in an environment where these worldly things will not be able to reach in and touch them. If we have trained them properly in the home and then if we are sure that that teacher is giving the right thing, then we know we are bringing them up in the way they should go. But if I send my child six and seven hours a day, to sit and drink in the philosophy, the ideas, and the ideals of a teacher who is not spiritual and who does not have any love of the truth, how can I ever feel that I have brought them up as they should be brought up? How, friends? I'm trying to be reasonable and logical here, and I don't want to be extreme in any way. Now maybe that teacher is a fine teacher, but I don't know. That is it, I don't know! But my children are too precious for me to be uncertain about what is flowing into their minds for six hours a day. Whatever a teacher is, whatever the principles of that teacher might be, it is being communicated to that child whether it is a geography class, a spelling class, or an arithmetic class. Whatever that teacher is saying, whatever the teacher believes, that belief is going to be transmitted to the child in her teaching.

I tell you, one of the things that I want to guard more than anything else is the teaching and the principles that my child accepts as the way of life. If somebody else who doesn't have the same principles that I have is taking my child and molding his mind and his thinking, six hours a day, when I don't even have that child for thirty minutes a day to put my thoughts into his head, how can I feel that I'm bringing him up as the child ought to be brought up? If that child goes astray, my friends, I've invited him to go astray by putting him in a place where false ideas and false principles have been inculcated. I cannot expect, how could I expect that child, with his tender and impressionable mind, to fail to be influenced? I would be expecting God to work a miracle that He has never promised to work under such circumstances. If I put my child there and say, "Now you go ahead and teach him, teach him whatever you believe. Whatever you want to, teacher in the public school, whatever you believe, whatever you want to teach my child, just go ahead and teach him. Pour it into his mind, he is very young now and whatever you tell him he will remember it." Suppose I don't even know what that teacher believes, and yet I tell the teacher to go ahead and pour it into the mind of my child? Do I have the presumption to pray and ask God to somehow save my child from wicked influences the teacher might pour in when I've placed my child there and invited the teacher to do it? Now friends, again let me say that I'm not criticizing the public school system. I do say that we should make it our business to know what our children are being taught.

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