Sunday, May 12, 2013
I warn you. This is a harsh post for Mother's Day. Feel free to skip it.
Even though this is Mother's Day, I've just been reminded during a phone call with a friend that some mothers mistreat their children in terrible ways. I was very blessed with my mother who made her children a priority in her life. My prayers and thoughts are with those children who are not and were not as fortunate as I was. If you're a mother who loves her children more than herself, then may God bless you and reward you richly. He is proud of you. If you're not, then I promise you that there will be a harvest of sadness and sorrow that you will reap. If you mistreat your children when they are young, you will not be their friend or even loved when they are adults. Why would you expect them to act otherwise?
Everyone seems familiar with "honor thy father and mother," but are you as familiar with Ephesians 6:4? It starts:
"And, ye fathers." -- This is directly addressed to parents and then gives two duties that parents must do for their children.
"Provoke not your children to wrath." -- Unreasonable rebukes and furious scoldings, bad and cruel language, broken promises, neglect or cruel usage will rightly cause resentment on the part of your children. The Bible doesn't say that you can justify such behaviors. In fact, it's quite plain: You have a duty as a parent to "provoke not your children to wrath." No ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you mistreat your child, God will not be pleased because you are not following His instructions. This doesn't mean there shouldn't be spankings or punishment, but that you are to remember that your children are precious and to cherish them.
"But bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." I see many parents who don't bring their children up in church and don't provide moral instruction, then are seemingly amazed when their children take drugs or steal. Yes, children have free agency, but they will do as you have trained them to do. If you cuss, cheat on your taxes, lie, behave badly, take drugs, drink to excess, then your children will do as you do and not as you say.
It seems that some parents base their love on conditions. I love you if "you make good grades," "you clean your room," "you excel in sports," and so on. Some parents try to make children into their slaves or their clones. Those parents are breaking their children's hearts. And they are committing sin. They should remember God's example: although He expects and requires certain behaviors from us, He always loves us. There are no limits on His love or on His forgiveness.
I've been talking with a friend whose parents were alcoholics and drug users when he was young. There were many times when he and his brother didn't know if they would get breakfast or supper, but thank God for a federal program that saw to it that they would get lunch. Now his mother -- who has reformed -- thinks he should allow her to live with them. But he won't do it. He remembers those childhood days -- and although he tries to forgive her -- he can't. He doesn't want her around his children. I believe in the power of forgiveness to heal, but I can't fault him. She sowed a crop of neglect and cruelty -- she never spoke to him without a scream when he was young -- and now she is reaping the harvest.
He does need to forgive her for his own sake, but forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting. It also doesn't mean trust. I support his right to protect his children from her -- even if she is no longer the woman she once was. If she wants to buy a house in the same city and be available to his family so that trust can be built, great, but otherwise it's unfair to expect him to open his home to her -- particularly since she does have enough money to live on her own. She shouldn't expect "son" behavior from him now when she didn't show "mother" behavior to him then.
This is a harsh post for Mother's Day, but my loving and wise mother never minced words. She called them as she saw them, and I think she would like this post. Children are precious, and they grow up. Cherish them while you can. Love them while you can. Because if you wait, it will turn out to be too late.
Posted by Stephen B. Bagley at 2:38 AM