There is a root of bitterness growing ever deeper in the lives of many of America’s children today. You see it in many of their faces and in the way they walk. When they smile, it sometimes appears to be a forced contortion of the facial muscles. You know they do not mean it. They are just going through the motions to avoid unwanted questions. Behind the smile is the mind of a cynic seeking foremost to avoid feeling the pain.
Sometimes there is anger. These children move through the halls of the school like boiling pots. All it takes is for someone to tip them slightly and the anger becomes a scalding burst of violent emotion. They respond from hurt, because they cannot find comfort or refuge from the pain. In fact, it is those who should be the primary source of comfort and refuge who are increasingly the source of the pain.
It was “Back To School Night,” in late August, and several hundred children, along with their parents, were making their way through the halls to find their new classrooms and meet the teachers. In one classroom a young mother greeted her son’s teacher. The boy stood sheepishly at his mother’s side and smiled widely when the teacher welcomed him to her class.
As the teacher began to speak about some things the boy should look forward to in her class, she was interrupted by a loud adult voice which the other parents and children could not help but hear, “Well, you need to know that Michael is bad news. You are going to really earn your pay this year. He lies and he’s always getting into trouble.”
The teacher was shocked and embarrassed for the little boy who stood there looking down at the floor. She could not believe the words that had just come out of the mother’s mouth and, especially, that they had been said in front of the child and so many other people. Michael’s mother had spoken hurtful words that prophesied a dismal year for him and the teacher. Michael, in turn, did his best that year to make sure that prophesy came true.
Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” The words we speak to our children and about them are, indeed, almost prophetic in their impact. The young mother above may have thought she was doing the teacher a favor by giving her a warning about her son. The message she conveyed, however, devalued her child and gave him a negative image of his potential abilities. If he had ever had a chance of improving his behavior during that year, he was now discouraged from that goal by the person who had the most influence on his life. (Continued Monday)
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