Influencing our Children

Ready, Aim, Release

 “Children born to a young man (woman) are like sharp arrows in a warrior’s hands”

Psalm 127:4

“My father died this year.  Although he is gone, his influence isn’t. My father taught me many good things – like service, a strong work ethic and loving others. But his influence doesn’t end with me; I’ve passed many of my parent’s values and practices on to my children. A parent’s influence is felt for years.

 A pastor of mine felt this verse indicated their influence.  “Children are like arrows because we can shoot them out further than we would ever go.” Bud Long explained, “As we raise godly children and they go out into the world, they make a difference in their sphere of influence because of the way we’ve trained them. Through our children, we multiply our faith and have a broader influence for righteousness in the world.”

As we live for Christ and instill godly values in our children, our children are arrows of light hitting the target of a dark world.”

 What traits will our children take out into the world?              Jeanette Gardner Littleton

When I read this daily meditation a couple of weeks ago I remembered my own parents and what they had instilled in my life. We were not wealthy and, although the 1950s and 1960s was a time of boom, it was not nearly as materialistic as the world seems to be today. Our parents, and those of our friends and relatives, had lived through some very tough times – the Great Depression and then a second major war. For their parents this war probably brought back awful memories of the Great War as the 1st World War was referred to. They had believed that IT was “the war to end all wars”.

 With this background the Baby-Boomers, as we were referred to, came into a world where rationing was gradually falling away but there was always the reminder that, in a matter of moments, one’s world could change for the worse and so we were taught to waste absolutely nothing. Those of us in this age-group are packing up our parents’ homes and we have discovered that most of them were real hoarders or pack rats. Every bit of string, every rubber band, drawing pins, plastic packets etc etc was carefully stored for ‘just in case’. Remember when we were told to eat everything on our plates because there were starving people in Biafra?! I never could work out how eating everything on my plate would help them. There is no doubt that most of us had this attitude instilled in us and there seem to have been 2 responses from our generation. The first is to stick to that habit and become hoarders or, at least, to think very carefully how to spend money and what to discard. The second was to ignore it completely, do something completely different and so shocking their parents and their whole generation.

After the end of World War II, birth rates across the world spiked. The explosion of new infants became known as the baby boom (1946-1964). During this boom, an estimated 76 million babies were born in the United States alone! The large increase in population produced a substantial rise in demand for consumer goods, stimulating the post-war economy. This happened over a period of ±20 years and it was fairly normal to have large families. Six or more children was not unusual, having both advantages and disadvantages. Many families continued with the back yard vegetable and fruit garden and most groceries were delivered to the door so it was cheaper and simpler from that point of view. Owning a car was a luxury. We got our first car in 1960 – a 1939 Plymouth. We had some great fun as well as some rather hair-raising experiences in it.

What was definitely instilled in us was the understanding that we were to be better educated than our parents and to look for a steady job once we had finished our education. It should be a job for life (if you were male), had good insurance policies and plan for retirement from the first day of employment. While most followed this path it also caused many to throw caution to the wind and become part of the ‘flower-people’  or hippie way of life. We, in our family at least, had respect for others, morals and ethics not only instilled but drilled into us. It was not quite the Victorian approach of “children should be seen and not heard” but we would not dream of not standing aside for anyone older than ourselves, speaking rudely to adults, disrespecting teachers let alone assaulting them or saying “I want” instead of ”Please may I have” unless we desired some really tough punishment. Our Grandparents lived on a farm and any undesired behaviour was met with Grandma sending the miscreant to fetch their own bamboo switch for her to put to use on our legs. Took us a while to realise that the fatter the bamboo the less painful the treatment.

And so I wonder, what have we as parents instilled in our children? What difference are they making in the sphere of their lives that was influenced by the way we trained them? I am not thinking on a purely personal note but our Baby Boomer generation as a whole. We witness children and young adults not having that ‘job for life’, enjoying a gap year, seeing everything with an obsolescence date (usually of about 3-5 years), spending much more freely than we would ever have had the courage to do and finding the main means of communication through digital rather than face to face. With apologies to  Jeannette Littleton, I ask, “What traits will their children take out into the world?”

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