Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Word on Families Today, by Dr. Jim Savage

The month of May is often designated as the month of the American Family, or in some circles the month of the Christian Home. Regardless, the weeks between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are weeks that some people actually stop to think about their family situation. Even though the divorce rate is still high, new studies have been done that reveal most people truly attempt to be faithful to their marriage vows. Another study revealed that even folks who classified themselves as “liberals” (whatever that means today) also affirmed the importance of people keeping the covenant of marriage as a sacred vow. Whatever happened to the proclamations of “free-love” from the 1960’s? We found out it does not mesh well with the human spirit. People, regardless of religious affiliation or denomination, overwhelmingly agree that “faithfulness in marriage” is a good thing that should be supported on every front.

Even though we see the typical “Hollywood-Divorce-Front-Page-Pictures”, when you actually read about these people you discover that they also support faithfulness in marriage (even if they are not able to keep their marriages together).

We have also discovered that single-parent families are very, very difficult to maintain. Women (the single-parent-moms) often bear a terrible load, and often drop below the designated poverty line. Children are still the most likely “victims” who bear the brunt of anger, confusion, false accusation about both parents that cause even more confusion, and often find themselves in need of counseling, and life-long issues that are never resolved.

We like to pretend that children are “tough and can withstand anything.” Yes, children are tough, but we are kidding ourselves to say they can simply withstand every angry word, every parental argument, and every divorce with serious scars.

We are also facing a rise in parents who do not want to do the right thing even after their divorce. Child support is often not paid. Children are no longer a priority for either parent in some cases, but certainly not in every case. In fact some single-parents step up to the plate in heroic fashion, and should be nominated for parent of the year.

Our nation still has problems, but thank God for moms and dads who give their very best efforts! Thank God for grandparents who also step up to the plate.

I thank God for neighbors, coaches, teachers, scout leaders, and others who do all they can for our community.

What do kids and youth need from us?
1. Love!
2. A safe and loving home, school, and place of work or recreation.
3. Hugs and assurance that they can be happy and successful in this world, but do not paint false realities of wealth or happiness.
4. They also need to know the realities of life without making it so depressing. We should paint positive but realistic pictures of possibilities for them.
5. Let them know that their choices are very, very important. Once they become teens and older, every single decision is important and could change their entire future.
6. Let them know that education is very important without demanding unrealistic goals from them. Not every teen will make a 36 on their ACT, or receive an academic scholarship for college. Not every child is ready for college. We still need people who learn the trades of this world, who would never be happy at college, or the type of job this provides. Education is a broad term.
7. Listen to our youth and take them and their stories seriously.
8. Help them understand that popularity is not the most important thing. Help them know that their friends will change many times in their lifetime. High school and/or college are just short stops in this journey of life.
9. And last but first, talk with them about the love of God.

Even is you are not a parent or grandparent, simply stop and talk to youth when you can: at the grocery store, workers at Wal-Mart, at the malls, ballgames, and every possible place. Offer them the best words of encouragement and wisdom that comes to mind.

You never know---you just might save the lives of 32 other youth on a college campus one day.

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