A few weeks ago in one of my grandchildren’s schools, a nine-year-old boy hung himself in the restroom. I am still reeling from the thought of it. What could possibly be so terrible in his life to make him choose death? I write this column today in the hope that some will weep and the message will become clear; we must change. The spiral seems to be going downward!
There are many ways that children are abused in our society today. One we try to ignore is verbal abuse. I sometimes wish I had a recorder when I am out in public. I would record some of the screaming I hear taking place between parents and their children. Come on! We’ve all heard it; a child screaming at the top of their lungs while the adult screams back but gives in to avoid a scene. (I sometimes wonder what happens when they get home and what that home is like!)
I firmly believe you can raise your children without raising your voice. Try it! Use soft, gentle tones and watch the response. The first few times they will be shocked at the change, but if they are the only one screaming—it will stop.
Parents or caregivers, you are their first mirror. They are going to reflect exactly what they see and hear from you. If they hear bad words and screaming, that’s what they will reflect. If they hear adults screaming and disrespecting each other, they will copy the behavior.
Listen to them. We are multi-tasked people. Children need to know you are listening to them. Practice listening with your eyes! Some children must wonder if their name is ‘Not Now’ because they hear it so often! Stop folding your arms and looking down at them when you talk. Bend your knee and speak to them on their level.
As a Children’s Pastor, the complaint I heard most often from parents was, “They don’t listen to me.” My response, “Do you listen to them?”
The saying holds – garbage in, garbage out! I recently heard from a teacher that the verbal abuse directed at teachers is unbearable, much less unbelievable.
Every child comes with an “operation manual.” It is called God’s Word. Scripture says this about Jesus as a child; “He was obedient to them.” If it was important for the Son of God to be obedient to His earthly parents, it is important for all children born! Scripture further states; “Do not provoke your children to anger.” Those two statements alone could change your home!