My last column on February 21st, “Red Flags Everywhere”, reviewed the recent Parkland school shooting and the missteps that led up to it. In it I suggested that parents become more involved in the activities and programs implemented by our local school board to improve the safety and security of our local schools. Sheriff Chris Brown, wrote an article on the same subject last week which appeared in the Sun-Times on February 28th in which he correctly identified key factors in the anatomy of a school shooting. I strongly recommend you read it! If you haven’t seen it, go online to Chris Brown’s Facebook page where he’s posted a copy. On Sunday, my Pastor, John Waldrup at Foothills Bible Church, also reflected on the social changes affecting our society and how they helped enable some of our troubled young to commit atrocities. He used it as an entry into our study of Romans I.
In each case, the focus was on the individual rather than the weapon or the law(s) that restricts their use. If our objective is to prevent or minimize the chances for another school shooting then you have to leave your personal thoughts of loving guns or hating them in your mental lockers and concentrate on realistic solutions. Don’t bring out old prejudices or promote knee-jerk reactions which accomplish nothing productive except restricting our civil liberties. With that in mind, let’s look at the problem.
The place to start would be to focus on the differences that have taken place in our society over the last 40 to 60 years. Kids today aren’t any different than we were. They encounter the same growth pains as they physically and socially mature just as we did. However, they’re doing it in a society that has evolved (or devolved) faster than we have. They have far more freedom than we could have imagined with their smartphones, the net, computers, Tweeting, Facebook, graphic movies and video games. In addition, they’re bombarded with the entertainment industries twisted vision of the latest trends where the emphasis is placed on the fringes of human civility and behavior. Rappers glorify the worst aspects of male-female relationships while pushing an ‘anything goes’ approach to life stressing violence, obscenity and freedom without responsibility. In the midst of this mental onslaught, a greater percentage of our kids are growing up in broken homes or single parent families without the presence of valid role models. Society’s new media idols push their leftist views denigrating religion and Christianity in particular which further compounds the problem. Forget about the Ten Commandments! They no longer apply in our ‘brave new world’ where the impulse of the moment is King! Under these conditions discipline breaks down along with civility, respect and other foundations of civilization. We may be technologically advanced but some of our children are living like Neanderthals.
Hopefully the pendulum is beginning to swing back but, until it does, there are a number of things that we can do as individuals, parents and grandparents. I mention grandparents because when children turn out to be irresponsible as parents the grandparents are usually the ones who step up to raise their own grandchildren.
A. Make religion a part of your family life. Find a church that you and your family are comfortable with and begin attending. The moral code presented to us by God and the Bible forms a foundation that hasn’t been improved on in thousands of years. Set Family Values!
B. Assign responsibilities and chores to your children commensurate with their age so they can become valued, working members who contribute to your family. Insist on good performance and help prepare them to become successful when they enter industry.
C. Monitor the content and limit their TV, computer, phone and gaming time. Help them develop responsible time management habits. Don’t expect them to suddenly blossom into adults. Eat meals together while you talk and listen without the cell phones!
D. Set boundaries and standards! Know who their friends are. Set curfews and use discipline appropriately. Get your children comfortable and familiar with restrictions and self-restraint. Start early-Don’t wait. Don’t be a friend and forget that you’re the parent
E, Place school as a priority! Attend parent-teacher meetings. Get involved in your child’s education. Look into extra-curricular activities. Help them develop their social skills while maintaining Values!
F. Observe how they interact with family, friends, teachers and other adults. Watch for anger management, depression or alarming behavioral changes. Listen and talk with them. Seek help through your doctor or minister if you feel it’s necessary. You’re the 1st line of defense for society because you’re the responsible adult!
The above actions are the normal parts of parenting. Kids will find comfort with guidelines if you’re consistent and fair in how you apply them. Now, what about You? What are Your Values? Are You a good role model for them morally and socially? Did You wait to have children until after you found your soulmate? Very few of us are like Madonna who can afford a comfortable life as a single-mother. It’s true that divorce does happen for both good and bad reasons but, did you at least try to marry 1st so your children would have two parents. Marriage should be a partnership. When the kids get on your last nerve it’s wonderful to have your spouse there to step in and relieve you like a tag-team match. Single parent children have the odds stacked against their success in so many ways. Are You the Real Problem?
End of rant. Have a blessed day.