Tuesday, October 22, 2013

If I Were a Child Again

A few Sundays ago, the pastor of Brookland Baptist Church gave a sermon on love, pertaining to parents and children.  The scriptural reading came from 1 Corinthians 13:4-13: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things.”  He gave the sermon from the insight as a child talking to adults. 

Pastor Jackson’s first point of emphasis was:  I hope my parents and adults would remember when I had something to say I would SPEAK it as a child.  This means children imitate what is heard from other adults.  I have grown to realize many people do not believe that children listen to what they are saying, because they almost never listen whenever they are given advice. Children often see and hear more than what we think they do.  For instance, a story was told during the sermon about a little boy in Sunday School who was called upon to pray.  He started off his prayer with Dear Mr. Damn.  After he finished praying, the teacher asked why he referred to God as “Mr. D.”  The child answered saying, “Well, isn’t that God’s second name?”  He was speaking what he had heard from other adults.  Those adults are his role models, and I’ve heard many adults say, “Do as I say, not as I do,” but that doesn’t guarantee that a child won’t imitate you.        
Pastor Jackson’s second point was:  I hope my parents and other adults would remember I UNDERSTAND as a child. I put thoughts into action based on my understanding from my role models.  Basically, what I see in my parents and others is how I will act because what they are doing is how I understand things to work.  If parents and other role models portray strong work ethic, then children will understand what it means to work.  If there is an emphasis on education around children, then they will understand how important education is.  On the other hand, if a child only sees one parent or adult working in their household and the other sits at home watching TV and eating all day, then they will understand that this is the way a household should be.  

Finally, Pastor Jackon’s last point was this:  I hope my parents would remember that my childish thoughts about love are how my parents display love toward each other.  Pastor Jackson pointed out three kinds of love:  IF love, BECAUSE love and ANYHOW love.  IF love is explained as conditional love that depends on behavior; the love is earned.  An example given was:  “if you make all As and Bs in school, I’ll be proud of you as my child.”  All children understand IF love because they are always bargained with IF love to gain certain results.  Children recognize IF love that is dependent upon works, not grace.  IF love can be great to mold children into how they should act, but it should not be the only love displayed.

Children view BECAUSE love as being more protective of the parent and not considerate of the child.  It is based upon appearance, because a parent holds a certain position, i.e. a president of a company, may expect certain things from their child and they have to conduct themselves in a certain manner.  This means not bringing shame upon the parents and upholding the family’s name.  This could be a great kind of love also because it brings children a sense of responsibility and duty into their lives.  However, many times BECAUSE love is what keeps families together, because the family does not want to break their image. They may stay together for the children no matter what, even if they are no longer in love. 

Thirdly, ANYHOW love is recognized and thought about by children for their parents.  Children need ANYHOW love because of the many challenges they may be facing in their lives.  Children will make mistakes, just like adults did and still do.  ANYHOW love is patient and kind, not jealous or arrogant, does not insist on its own way, not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice in wrong but rejoices in the right, and bares, believes, and hope of all things.  Children may disappoint their parents at times but parents should love them anyhow. 

I can only hope that I am being a great role model to the children that are looking up to me and displaying actions of love for them to imitate.  Once I become a parent, I also hope that I will be able to display actions that are worthy of my children’s hearing and seeing.  One way to ensure this is to open the lines of communication between children and parents and/or trusted adults.  Knowing the things your children are doing, and how they are doing those things, will always show what the child is being taught through other people’s actions at home.  This goes back to an earlier example of the child calling God Mr. D.  A parent would have known that their child calls God Mr. D if they are keeping an open line of communication and could help to correct that behavior.  It’s always said that “learning starts at home.”        

For resources and information on how to talk to your child, visit our Parent Portal.

 by Edwina Mack, USC Master of Social Work Field Place Student, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy


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