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Where Have the Children Gone?

This article was written by Ed Brand and appeared in the 1993 summer issue of a paper called "Think On These Things," which is edited and published by Al Diestelkamp.

"Lo, children are a heritage of Jehovah, and the fruit of the womb is his reward" (Psa. 127:3). The birth of a child is a wondrous and special event. Even a quarter of a century later, I can recall the flood of emotions which accompanied the birth of our firstborn. Those feelings were repeated with the secondborn as well. I do not understand how it could be otherwise. Not only do we perpetuate our species, we also leave a part of ourselves for the future.

Solomon said that children were a blessing. When Esau asked Jacob whose were all these children, Jacob responded, "The children whom God has graciously given your servant" (Gen. 33:5). The Bible promotes the familial ties which bind parents and children. I am glad it is so.

Not only are children a blessing to parents, they are a blessing to the nation. Solomon suggests God rewards the nation by the birth of children. In the past months, some of our national leaders have indicated how important our children are to the welfare of our country. I concur with their assessment. Our children are our fortune.

What is happening to our greatest national resource? They are being murdered and abused in alarming numbers. They are being shown every day that our society is often a dangerous one.

Not only are they being murdered and brutalized, many of them are being pushed into adulthood long before they are ready. They have to learn how to fend for themselves after school, since no one will be home until after work. Sometimes, they are unsupervised, even while one parent is home. One recent tragedy occurred while a 5-year-old boy was watching television with his older sisters at 4 AM. He found a hand gun and shot himself dead. Do you also wonder what business children have being up at 4 AM watching television?

Peer pressure is put on older children to act like adults. They want to mimic their role models in dress, action, and vocabulary. They want to be people of the world when they are 10 years old. A recent article in Newsweek (7/26/93) exposed this preoccupation with fast living. Let me quote one paragraph which condenses the whole article: "It's not really that I want her to be a little girl forever. It's just that it would be nice if she were a child during her childhood. Instead, she's been bathed in the fantasy of bodies and beauty that marinates our entire culture. The result is an insidious form of premature sexual awakening that is stealing our kids' youth."

I do not know Joy Overbeck's religious convictions, if any, but I do know she has analyzed an all too-common condition in our culture. And my dear brethren, we live in this culture. Are we perpetuating this vicious cylcle by pushing our children into adulthood before they are ready? I'm all for our people learning the value of money and honest work. Sometimes they get jobs which make it difficult, if not impossible, to attend Bible classes and worship. Job pressures will come soon enough without youngsters having to deal with this conflict before they are spiritually mature to do so. We parents ought to help our children to formulate habits which will enhance spiritual development, not hinder it. When children make wrong choices (and they will), parents ought to overrule them and explain why. That's one reason God gave children parents.

I like the way Joy closes her piece about "Sex, Kids and the Slut Look" (I didn't have the nerve to use that title for this article). She said: "As for me, I don't care anymore if my kid has a hissy fit in the junior deparment. She's not wearing the Slut Look. Let her rant that I'm a hopelessly pathological mom who wants to keep her in pacifiers and pinafores forever. Let her do amateur psychoanalysis on me in public until my ears fry--I've shaken the guilt heebie-jeebies and drawn the line. So you can put those white lace spandex leggings back on the rack, young lady."

Our children are a precious comodity which we must nurture and care for. They need loving instruction and as much time as necessary to make the transition from childhood to adulthood. Some of the most important lessons they learn are in this interval. One thing seems quite clear: They need time to be children, to enjoy the relative freedom of those short years before they are thrust into the rat race of modern "living."