Sitting in an assembly last night, I could not help but notice the large number of children making noise and causing disruptions. Some were sitting on the back of church pews forcing others behind them to move in order to see. Some were talking out loud the entire time. Some were walking around in the aisles during the program. Some were just bored and letting you know it.
My mind begins to wonder at times like these what my grandfather's generation would have done with their kids. What did the puritans do with their children in such assemblies? I'll bet it didn't sound quite like it did last night.
Lots of parents that I know foster this inane notion that such behavior is ordinary and cannot be controlled. Parents of this stripe are not flaming atheists or even uneducated simpletons. They are the people next door. This type of behavior is everywhere. All I have to do if I want to watch some kid tell his parents off in public or display some sort of reckless act of rebellion is step outside of my house. I have watched it at the park, in the grocery line, at schools, in parking lots, at my church, and even at Chic-fil-a.
Children are out of control.
That is not the most obvious observation however. We all know that children are out of control. Anyone who has ever given birth to a child or raised a child or had any interaction with a child whatsoever could tell you that children are out of control. That is their nature.
The most obvious observation about this is that the parents are out of control - literally. Parents have given up their God-ordained privilege and responsibility to control, train, instruct, and discipline their children. What parents miss in all this is that they are actually giving up their privilege and right to enjoy their children.
Children who hiss and whine and hit and ignore are not enjoyable children. Parents of these children fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day and just long to go back to work. They cherish time away from their kids. You all know exactly the type of person we're talking about. The young mother who has kept her job outside the home because it is a haven of escape where she doesn't have the weight of dealing with her children. The father who would rather go out with his friends rather than spend time taking his children camping. Bad parents are the rule not the exception.
Marie and I have witnessed first-hand things that make our toenails curl. Stuff that we thought any ol' run of the mill parent would correct right away is becoming common place behavior. Connor is even sensitive to this. In observing a child defying his parents, Connor can become noticeably unsettled. Once, on a playground, Connor heard a mother yelling at her boys because they would not listen to her. His response was classic Connor, "That mom is being ugly. She doesn't understand."
Right son. Moms and dads who fail to discipline and love their children do not understand. Giving in to your kids and letting them do what they please is not understanding. Choosing to let a child get what he wants using inappropriate and blatantly sinful behavior is not understanding. Of course the bible tells us all about this. Romans 3:11 says, "There is none who understands." Parents turn out to be bad parents because they are sinful people who are not seeking the Lord. Christians turn out to be bad parents when they acquiesce to their sin and do not seek the Lord.
When I observe what I observed last night, it only makes me hurt for the families that are dealing with it. I hurt for the kids because they will grow up thinking that the universe revolves around them and will, if not for the intervening grace of God, forevermore be a pain. I hurt for the parents who rob themselves of so much joy and torture their children because they refuse to obey God. They just don't understand.