Vol. 1 - No. 4
Why Are We Losing Our Children
by Jack H. Kirby
The statistics alarm us. One-half to two thirds of the young people who grow up "in the church" become unfaithful to the Lord when they leave home!
This is perhaps our number one problem in the church, but why? Why do so many leave the Lord and his church when they leave their parents, and begin making their own decisions about life's values?
We, parents, begin by inferring or outright declaring that we did our job well when the children were little, but did we? Proverbs 22:6 is a very familiar verse, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it." While we recognize that proverbs teach generic and not specific truths as pertaining to any given fact situation, yet the first part of the verse is a command just as binding as it ever was. Our responsibility as parents is plainly commanded. A. parallel passage in the New Testament is Ephesians 6:4, "And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." It is easy for parents to shift the blame onto the kids, when in reality they should first examine themselves.
Examine the typical family with youngsters still at home. To afford the new house, new furniture, new cars, new TV, new camper, new golf clubs, new stereo, new boat, new fishing tackle, new guns and hunting lease, etc., both parents must work outside the home oftentimes at moonlighting at second jobs. Children are left with a sitter, or in a nursery or day-care center. Often the children are left at home alone at even pre-school ages. They seldom see the parents. Evenings are spent by the parents in preparing dinner, washing dishes, doing laundry, getting the kids to bed and out of the way, and a host of other things that encumber our daily lives. No time is taken to teach the children, or instill in them spiritual values. Trying to keep up with society and the "rat-race" consumes all of their time.
Weekends are times for sleeping late, doing yard and house work, washing and maintaining the cars, etc.; or time for golf, fishing, hunting, beauty shops, etc. These parents are too busy to regularly attend the services of the church, missing services with regularity, and attending only when it is convenient. These never engage in worship at home, nor is the Bible ever read and studied. The children relate Christianity only to the church building, never the home. Then when the children grow up unfaithful, parents cry out, "What did we do wrong?" Generally, they just did nothing right.
Too few children are taught responsibility, self-discipline, or true values in the modern home. A child is not born bad because he is born in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27) He is the product of his teaching. (Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4) Someone will teach him-at home or on the street. Kids cannot know right from wrong without teaching!
Lack of communication is evident in the modern home. With TV, radio, and stereo blaring, conversation is almost impossible. Air conditioning and central heating allow the kids to spend their time in the house in their own rooms away from the parents. There they watch programs and listen to music of their liking. They seldom hear the parents talk or discuss anything (if perchance they do). Adults seldom visit outside the home or have company these days, hence the children do not have the advantages of hearing adults and profiting from their experiences and knowledge. There is not really a "generation gap," but in reality a "communication or acquaintance gap." Children do not hear parents discussing moral and spiritual values, so they form their values from their songs, TV programs, and friends with whom they associate. Many have never heard a Bible story or spiritual song from the lips of mom and dad. Modern pop songs (disco, rock, etc.) are based on a sensuous beat or rhythm, and are filled with immorality. The lives of these musicians are often rotten and sinful, yet they become the kid's idols. Radio, TV, and modern songs are powerful teaching, brainwashing media. Most is not good. Parents would not give their children garbage to eat, but will allow their minds to feed on mental garbage with no concern. Parents, talk to your children-about anything that interests them, but talk.
The religion of Christ is taught, (Matthew 28:19,20; 2 Timothy 2:2) not inherited. Children grow up in homes where parents profess Christianity but never learn the plan of salvation. Many parents depend upon the church to teach their children, but such cannot be in the one to two hours spent in a class. Even at best, most of the classes are poorly taught (little time, little home study and preparation, little incentive to learn, poor teaching aids, little or no supervision by the elders, "fill-in-the-blanks" type of teaching, etc.). As a result, some do not lose their faith-they just never had any. One generation does not inherit from another. (Judges 2:10-12) Parents want the children to excel in sports, popularity, secular scholastics, etc., but are not concerned about Bible study or classes, Bible class homework, or Christian growth. The children are seldom taken to gospel meetings (at home or elsewhere). There is little or no religious literature or books at home for them to read, but the other kind of publications are plentiful. Christians are not invited into the home, and associations with Christians is not encouraged. We just cannot expect zeal in a child that comes from a cold or lukewarm home.
Parents sometimes lose their children by simply ignoring them. So seldom in this age is the whole family together. Even mealtime, one of life's most pleasant moments, seldom brings the whole family together. Meals are served "cafeteria style," a sort of "catch as catch can" arrangement. Even if seated together, conversation is lacking because all are in a hurry to get through and go somewhere, or the TV is so loud that conversation is impossible. Often the family activities are wholesome and good, but there are too many and they crowd out the spiritual. No time is left for family life. Parents need to let the kids know they love them, a "show and tell" situation.
Some parents do not supervise their children's associations. These often exercise more influence than parents or other Christians. Kids often spend more time away from parents than with them. Remember, "Evil companionships corrupt good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33) Homes should be gathering places for children. Both parents and children will benefit. Courtship should be a function of the home instead of the car, motel room, or "lover's lane." Young people want guidance from parents, even wanting them to say "no" many times. They want love at home, not away from home. They want parents who care, those they can respect and revere. They want to learn discipline and restraint through parental love, not mistakes made on the street. Eli did not restrain his sons, (1 Samuel 2:22, 3:12) and subsequently lost them. Children, like trees and vines, must be trained while young. If they do not get it at home, it will come from elsewhere. Training becomes impossible when they get old.
Immodesty in dress and lives is allowed by parents because "everybody else is doing it." Brief cut-offs, halters, bikinis, etc., detract from spirituality, and lead to lasciviousness. (Galatians 5:19) Pornography, dope, alcohol, sex, tobacco, pot, and such like, are alluring to many youngsters who have not had parents to teach them the truth about these things. Child ownership of cars lead many to using the above, yet parents sacrifice much to buy the kid his own car as soon as he can get his license, without teaching him any sense of responsibility, moral training or discipline.
Many parents want their children to be rich and to have it easier than they. They forget that adversity is many times the key to success. This drive was one of the causes of the youth rebellion and hippie movement of the 1960's. Remember, "A man's life consisteth not in the things which he possesseth." (Luke 12:15)
Many children are reared at the TV shrine, and are seldom encouraged to read. Reading is becoming a lost art. Our kids do not have faith because they cannot read and understand. (Romans 10:17) Parents do not read the Bible or religious literature at home. Many homes of Christians have numerous newspapers, magazines, fictional books, but no religious literature at all. Parents need to reassess their values. It is difficult to accept the excuse that they cannot afford these things with all the secular things that are so evident. Some parents evidently assume their kids will learn enough from sermons they hear. They ought to see how their kids act during the sermons! They hear little and heed less. There is no substitute for home teaching and example.
The basic reason we are losing so many of our children to the world is the breakdown of God's basic institution, the home. Fathers are to be fathers indeed, and mothers are to be godly mothers. Children should be taught to obey and honor their parents, (Ephesians 6:1,2) and parents should demand it.
Timothy should be an example to all. He was a favorite of Paul, and well respected by men. (Acts 16:2) He had been taught the scriptures from his youth (2 Timothy 3:15) by his mother and grandmother. (2 Timothy 1:5) It is doubtful that they would drink in his presence or blow smoke in his face; leave him at home alone to fend for himself; curse in his presence, or allow him to hear it on TV, radio, movies, or read it in unwholesome books. Do you think that they would be proud that he could name more TV or movie "stars" than Bible characters; or when he pulled a toy gun and "killed someone"?
We are to correct, (discipline) our children. (Proverbs 13:24. 22:15, 29:17) Too many read Dr. Spock or some psychologist, and forget to study the Bible tot guidance. (2 Peter 1:3)
Brother Irven Lee (to whom credit is given for many of these thoughts) wrote, "It is not an accident that a generation of domineering wives, irresponsible husbands, and disrespectful children have appeared at the same time."
Many parents never knew or forgot how to say "no." When they punish, it is from personal anger and not love. We cannot act in double standards-"Do as I say and not as I do!" We cannot live one way and expect kids to go the other way. You have no right to expect your child to be one whit better than you are!
A good conclusion to these thoughts is found in Psalms 78:1-8. Please turn and read, and let the words be a part of your daily life.