Shame to His Mother
I read a story recently about a preacher who was entertained one Sunday afternoon in the home of a family that attended the rural congregation for which he served. The preacher was impressed by the intelligence and unusually good behavior of their only child, a little four-year-old boy. That afternoon, the preacher observed one reason for the child's charm.

As the preacher and father visited, the mother dedicated herself to cleaning up the kitchen and washing the dishes from their delicious chicken dinner. The boy, although not yet able to read, busied himself looking at a magazine. He enjoyed studying the pictures and trying to understand what was happening in each one. A particular image caught his attention and he curiously asked his mother about it. "What is the man in this picture doing?" he inquired. To the preacher's surprise, he noted that the mother dried her hands, sat down on a chair, took the boy in her lap, and spent several minutes answering her son's questions--despite the fact that she still had much clean-up work to do. She was very pleasant about the whole matter and seemed to enjoy the time as much as her son, even though her cleaning and dishwashing had been interrupted.

After the child went to another room to play, the preacher commented favorably upon the mother's actions. He affirmed, "Many mothers would not have allowed themselves to be bothered by such in the middle of their work." The woman wisely responded, "I expect to be washing dishes and cleaning up after meals for the rest of my life, but never again will my son ask me that question."

That's a powerful story, isn't it? Time moves so swiftly. It is mind-boggling to me that I have already been married to my amazing wife, Ranae, for nearly seven years, and our oldest son will turn five this summer! It's almost unbelievable really. The time we have today is here for a moment and will soon be gone forever. As our children grow and mature, we cannot turn back the clock. Each year brings significant changes and opportunities. Dear parents, are we taking full advantage of our children's years of youth? Are we readily available for our children and desirous of cultivating the best relationship we can with them? Are we focused on nurturing them into respectful, knowledgeable servants of the Most High God? Or, are we more concerned about ourselves? Are we bothered by our children? Do we merely tolerate them as an inconvenience and burden? Do we consider the television to be a primary caregiver or babysitter? Are we working diligently to help the children God blessed us with to develop to their greatest potential, or are we just waiting for them to grow up, move out, and cease hindering our plans?

Proverbs 29:15 teaches - "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." The point of the proverb is that children must be disciplined, both verbally and physically, when such is needed. If a parent is not willing to discipline or is simply not around to discipline, the child will suffer greatly (especially in the long run). A parent who provides the necessities of life and lavish gifts is not a real parent at all if he or she does not invest time--significant time--in the life of the child. Children would be much better off growing up in poverty with parents who love them, teach them, and invest time in them than with parents who can fulfill any materialistic wish but are never home or are unavailable to the child when they are home. Tragically, we can see the truth of this proverb in countless homes in our world today. Too many children are left to themselves, and the ultimate end is shame! Without the guidance, love, and discipline of a parent, children will find the path of destruction. A child left to himself will not learn the ways of righteousness and self-control. That's not a theory; it's divine truth. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!