Every once in a while, when in a public place, we may overhear another’s person’s conversation. We don’t mean to, it just happens since we are in such close proximity. Sometimes the conversations can be funny or weird, or in my recent case, very disturbing.
I was eating lunch with my family at a restaurant when behind us I could hear someone upset at another person. It was the table behind us and clearly someone was not happy. However, the person talking was not yelling or raising his voice. Instead, he was uttering the most obscene and vulgar language I have ever heard toward someone else at his table. I assumed it was some young people picking on each other in a joking way, and was about to ask him to keep his voice down because there were children nearby. As I turned I realized it was not young people having fun at all. It was a dad speaking to his son.
I was so shocked I couldn’t say a thing and instead started talking louder at our table so my children couldn’t hear what was being said. I heard words from that father, directed toward that son, that I would never say to my worst enemy. It left me deeply disturbed because if that was a normal conversation in public, what went on behind closed doors? The son was of course crying at the verbal insults he was receiving which made the dad stretch his vocabulary even more.
This whole situation left me thinking of my responsibility as a parent. And God has given clear guidelines for parents about what they need to be communicating to their children. The most comprehensive passage is Deuteronomy 6:1-9. In this passage God makes it very clear that parents are to teach their children to fear the Lord, love the Lord, and obey the Lord. While every parent will readily admit that they are not perfect, we can have some measure of confidence that we are heading in the right direction if we are teaching our children to do those three things. And we compromise our integrity as parents when we sin to try and get our children to do those three things.
To all the young people out there who have parents who are trying to teach you to fear the Lord, love the Lord, and obey the Lord, be thankful for them. Yes, thank God for those parents. They may not be perfect, they may mess up, but that is so much better than the alternative. The alternative is for parents to simply do whatever they think is right in their own eyes, and that leads to parents who can abuse and harm. Thank God for parents who are striving to raise their children in the ways of the Lord.
Pastor Mark Scialabba