Column: Parents, time to step up and lead, part 1

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 4, 2016

Faye Benjamin

Guest columnist

First of two parts

Come a little higher with me, and let me show you. Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

I am seeing, hearing and sensing that something is terribly wrong. Take a good look at the children. Not just your children or their children, but our children.

Not just the troubled teenager or “at-risk youth,” but the younger ones — middle schoolers, and even elementary and kindergartners. There is much sorrow and breakdown in the home.

The spirit of lawlessness and lack of accountability, the spirit of disrespect for parental authority or any other type of authority, the spirit of the absent parent — be it one or both — have turned out a generation of insecure, angry, confused and hurting children. My cry is: “Parents, where are you? Fathers, mothers, where are you?”

Absentee consequences

The results of the lack of proper parenting has spilled over into our neighborhoods and streets, and is reflected in student behavior in our schools. Student discipline and behavioral issues have become the focal point of the classroom, stealing the child’s personal right and the right of others to learn.

Stealing the right of the teachers to teach and enjoy teaching. A child’s behavior issues and need for discipline, their understanding of right and wrong, and respect for authority should be taught and molded at home.

Parents, that is your right and responsibility that comes with being a parent. That right and responsibility should take precedence and priority over any other privilege you afford your children. Remember, children are a gift from God, but the gift will only benefit itself, you and society when you teach and train them in the way they should go.

Parents, you must teach them loving obedience, and you must be consistent — you must be there. You should never let Hollywood, video games, music, videos and celebrities babysit your children. The need you, up close and personal. They need your attention, your time, your stories, your teaching, your training and your planting of good seeds in their lives. And above all that, they need to see you living out before them the good you are are teaching them.

Then, in the end, they will look more like you than some celebrity they don’t know, and who doesn’t know them. Their behavior will reflect your values instead of some voice of rhythm put to music that has no morals or value.

Educators are not babysitters

Parents, the college and university professors are not equipped to teach the discipline of your children. They don’t even know your children. They don’t love your children, and many of them are ill-equipped to know what is best for your children.

Much of their strategy for behavior is based on research. Research has its place, but it cannot compete with experience. Ask God to show you how to raise them and ask Him to help you do it.

Don’t allow, or disallow, based on your immediate feelings. Ask yourself the question, “How will this benefit my child in the long run?” We women are often led by our emotions rather than our head, especially when raising young men.

Many times we give in and say yes, or allow a privilege because we feel sorry for them. These allowances can cripple them in the long run. Decisions based on feeling sorry do not develop character and strength, holding them accountable does.

I know many parents who have the resources to give their children most anything they want, and many of them did, but in the end it proved not to be the best thing for the child. It never was the resources the child needed, but the strength of character and the accountability factor.

These parents lacked wisdom, which only comes from God, in the rearing of the child, and so the child was left with a void that the resources could not fill. This void pushed them to try to fill it with the wrong things and, in many cases, led to addictive and destructive behaviors.

Robbing them by coddling them

Just because you have the resources — more than enough — does not mean it is best for the child if you just give it without requiring his/her participation and work. A child’s participation in the work teaches skills needed to become productive adults of strength.

If you rob them of this by handing them everything, they will grow up to resent you. Doing this is another form of entitlement.

Handouts in the family, without requiring responsibility, produce the same negative results in the mental, emotional and physical states of the children as that entitlement that comes through the government. No matter what form entitlement comes in, if it is not appropriate, it is crippling.

So parents, show up in your children’s lives. Teach and train them in the way they should go. Be present. If you don’t know how to raise your children in the way that is right, get help. Look around and find someone who is doing it right, and their children are reflecting it, and get help from them. It is in their very best interest to help you raise children who benefit society.

See the second part of this column in the Weekend edition.

Faye Benjamin is a longtime educator and Troup County resident.