I have never heard of or seen an institution giving birth to a child. Why is it that an accusing finger seems to point in the direction of educational, religious, social, and government institutions, and not at the home, especially during times of crisis? The honest question that each of us may have to ask is this: Could it be that the problems of violence, domestic abuse, displaced anger, indiscipline, sexual abuse, disrespect for authority, delinquency, and drug abuse may have their deep roots in the tainted soil of poor parental nurturing?
Could it be that as a society, we have not been paying enough attention to developing wholesome homes? Am I not correct in saying that overwhelming research states that children’s security and positive esteem levels are dependent on what is mirrored by parents, especially during their formative years? Is it not also true that the genuine love, care, compassion, and tenderness a father and mother exhibit toward each other act as benchmarks for children as they grow up to foster their own relationships?
Listen to a sample of sad words of several individuals from whom I received permission to share and come to your own conclusions.
"My mother and father deserted me when I was six years old and left me with other relatives who walked in and out of my life. At a tender age, I struggled to care for my younger sibling. I grew up with much hatred."
"My father was a sperm donor. I have had no relationship with him, and I do not have any interest in having any either. He means nothing to me."
"As a very young girl, my mother would send me every week to find my father to beg him for money. I would often end up in the rum shop with several men around me. Sometimes I was forced to wait around for a long time and still returned home with no money."
"My mother would beat me with any object, including a hammer. She said some awful things that I could not get out of my mind. I am over 50 years old, and I would go down by my mother and still hope that she would somehow hug me and say I love you."
"At three years old, I remembered my mother saying to me: If I knew then what I know now, you would never be in this world. I am now married and have my children, but I cannot get those words out of my head."
"My father would regularly take my lunch money and throw it on the ground rather than hand it to me. I had to pick it up from off the floor. I felt like nothing. I developed much hatred for him and men on a whole."
"My mother hated me. Because I resembled my father, with whom she developed a bad relationship, she would take out her anger on me. I remembered her holding my hands behind my back and allowing my younger brother, who had a different father, to beat me up. I hated that woman."
These experiences are not isolated incidents of a few, but are repeated several times in homes across our nation. Too many of our children's mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual systems are often infected as they advance into adulthood. Some of these children grow up having great difficulty in reaching their full potential. Over the last decade, and especially within the previous five years, Family Heartbeat International Network Inc., a counseling agency of which I am a part, has been seeing an increase in both parent and children issues that are far from complimentary. Many of these parents with deep-seated emotional problems transfer childhood hurts to their children, who suffer at the bitter end of parental frustrations.
God's counsel to parents is still to "Train up (discipline, shape) a child in the way he should go [in keeping with his individual gift and bent], and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). But can parents train children if they themselves need training?
Let us continue this parent-child conversation next time.
Marriage and Family Life Consultant