“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." -Proverbs 22:6
Do you have a child? I do not have children yet, but I have served in kids ministry long enough to know that children are both a blessing and a huge responsibility! The Bible says that children are a blessing. (Genesis 17:6, 22:17; Deuteronomy 7:14; 1 Samuel 2:20; Psalm 127:3)
The fact that Proverbs 22:6 is true can be both good and bad. If a child is raised well, generally speaking, he or she will turn out alright. If he or she is brought up in an abusive environment, then there is a greater likelihood that the child may be at risk.
But what about situations where there is no parenting at all? We often hear reporting in the media about children with absent parents, latchkey kids where both parents work, parents who are neglectful and don't care; and the tragic stories about the children who become rebellious and deviant as a result. My teacher friends often say how much they are parenting in the classroom since these kids don't get the parenting at home. The parents are just too busy, and because of this, the kids lack direction. "When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful." (Proverbs 29:18).
Dr. Paul Hegstrom, author of Broken Children, Grown-Up Pain, says that most adult dysfunction is rooted in experiences that happen before the age of 9 years old. It's no wonder we have so much drug, alcohol, and pornography addiction, among other things. Seventy-five percent of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19 watch MTV.* What kinds of messages are channels like this sending? Ideas such as early sexual activity and promiscuity often come through the media and get filtered through to our kids at a very young age. It one reason I believe trafficking is at an all-time high. All the while the music, media, and pop culture vendors of our society get richer and richer - at our youth's expense.
But do you know what? God is a Father to the fatherless, including to those whose parents are emotionally, physically, or spiritually absent. And if there is anything we can do to help a fatherless generation, it is to help connect them to the heart of a Father who knows and understands their pain like no one else by praying for them, understanding them, being good examples for them, and most importantly, by loving them.