I don't like bullies. I don't like the fear and humiliation they impose on others and I don't like seeing the self esteem of a child crumble under the vengeful eye of a bully. I have been bullied and.....I have bullied. In some instances, it wasn't meant to be taken in that way, but it simply happened because I was careless with my words or actions. Then there were those times when it was a simple matter of revenge, that "I'll get you back" attitude. And oh how sad to see a Mom bully her own children. The one person a child should be able to trust and depend upon, becomes the one whom her child fears and is forced to suffer the humiliation of being bullied.
For some, bullying is hurtful words, embarrassing pranks or being left out of the group. But for some, it means the loss of life, the ultimate extreme of bullying.
Like every Mom who loves her children, my heart broke as news reports gave the details involving the murder of Tyshawn Lee, a 9 year old boy who was lured into a situation that he never returned from. And those details reminded me of the suicide of a young high school student several years ago, Phoebe Prince. Two very different situations; Tyshawn was murdered, Phoebe took her own life, but the result was loss of life before either of them had an opportunity to live it.
I remember where I was when I heard of Phoebe's death; in my car, listening to Break Point with Charles Colson. The nation was shocked when the details revealed that she had been the subject of many lies, pranks, humiliations, most of which involved social media and it had become so intense that this 15 year old girl felt she had no way out. In his commentary, Mr. Colson made this statement that has stuck with me for years and caused me to try and do a better job of influencing the children in my realm of influence to know and understand that morality is important, it matters, and this was his statement;
"Children are no longer trained by loving parents in their morally formative years."
Morally formative years. Those precious short years from birth through 7 or 8 when our value system, our sense of right and wrong, our conscience, our sense of compassion and empathy for others, our value of human life are shaped and developed. It is the time when the foundation of our moral and ethical code is laid down and if that foundation isn't laid by morally strong adults, it will become a crumbling foundation that devalues people and their feelings, their rights, and their very lives.
With all the chaos that invades our lives and our homes, the influence of the media, movies, books and music, how can Moms and Dads shape the ethics and morality of their young children? Well I certainly don't have all the answers, but I'd like to share a few things that I believe are necessary in raising children with good ethics and morals during their morally formative years:
1. Mom and Dad must be on the same team.
Satan is a divider. His agenda is to divide you and your husband on moral and parenting issues so that he can conquer your family. Don't let him. Your husband has a responsibility that you, Mom, will never have; he is the God-appointed leader of your home and your family and God will require an accountability of him that He will not require of you. (our accountability is for another post at another time.) Your husband needs you to be on his side, make sure you have his back. You are the key player in your husband's success as a leader and you'll help him succeed when you let him lead and together you will present a united front to your kids that says, "We love you too much to allow you to "raise yourself." (another post for another time, lol)
When parents communicate with each other, it is so much easier for them to communicate with their kids. There's just something about working together in our marriage that God puts His blessing on and it spills over into our parenting and our kids reap the benefits. Mark 3:25 tells us this: "A house (family) divided against itself cannot stand."
2. It's the day to day living that makes the biggest impression on our kids.
Wouldn't it be so nice if we could do 1 or 2 big parenting things a week and that's all it took to raise kids who possess high standards of right and wrong? But it doesn't work that way. God has given us the 1st 10 or so years of our children's lives to teach them right from wrong, good from evil, the truth from a lie, but we can't wait until they are even 6, 7, or 8; we have to start when they are babies by building trust. As we are building trust, we add to it things like kindness, being polite, helping others, being careful how they speak and respond, insisting on respect and showing them respect, gentleness, being careful with our tone of voice, and a good ole fashioned "yes Ma'am" never goes out of style. Seeing morality in the daily lives of their parents goes a long way in shaping their own morality.
3. Children must be taught right from wrong, good from evil.
And Mom, we have to take it up a step; we have to make a concerted effort to teach our kids right from wrong. We can't expect someone else to do our job. It is not the responsibility of the church or the school to parent our kids. It is our job. A good church, a good school will re-enforce our teaching, but Mom, "the buck stops here." We're the adults and we need to act like it. Teach them to be kind. Show them what it means to show and accept love. Show them compassion for others. Expect them to tell the truth, be honest, not take things that do not belong to them. Teach them by example that it is not ok to make fun of others, call someone a derogatory name, do harm to someone's reputation or to them physically.
Kids need to be held to an accountability for their actions, but the accountability starts with us. Do the Mom thing and train your children in their "morally formative years", those precious, fleeting years when their conscience and morality are formed. Train them to care about people and to see people as created in the image of God. There are no "do overs" when it comes to parenting; it's a one time gig. Love your kids, make sure they feel secure in your love, then put everything you have into teaching them that they are important and valuable to God............... but so is everyone else.