T. PIERCE BROWN
It seems to be politically correct now to talk about children’s rights. Child abuse has often taken center stage in the news, and for any effort to correct or eliminate such, we are grateful. However, it is sad to discover that many of those who seem so interested in expressing concern for the rights of children do not really know what those rights are. They reject the standard that properly defines the rights of all mankind, and thus their words are often so much foolishness. Those who carry on international conferences on the rights of children seem to want children to be free from all divine guidance and free from all parental discipline. Let us notice some of the rights of children as God reveals them.
First, children have a right to a home in which parents love for God, each other and their children (Ephesians5:25and Titus 2:4). It is common for children whose parents divorce or fail to show love to each other to claim that they are somehow to blame.
Second, this love of parents in those three areas will make them the best possible examples, for if they really love God they will try to keep all of his commandments. They thus learn the values of obedience to authority, honest work, Christian virtues of all kinds. This really involves any other points we might make concerning the rights of children. It will include a Christian home where each parent is active in the work of the church, united in love for God and fellowman.
Third, children have the right to be properly disciplined. Too many times we think of discipline merely in terms of punishment. It involves teaching and training in all aspects of life, including the propriety of punishment for wrongdoing. One year when I taught a junior high class that had received little discipline at home and none at school, they raised their grade level three years in that one year, primarily because of the kind of discipline I gave them. Several of them told me, with their arms around me, how much they appreciated my making them mind. One of the boys who had failed every year but had been “socially promoted” wanted as a memento the paddle that I had used on him, and promised never to fail again.
Children have the right to our attention to their needs, questions and desires. We know of parents who feel that they must always tell their children what, when, where and how to do, but the only “why” they tell them is “Because I said so.” Our children have the right to know more than that. We need to learn the difference in a question, “Why do I have to do that?” which is merely a rebellion against authority, and “Why do I have to do that?” which is an honest desire to understand the reason. They have the right to communicate with us without fear of ridicule, scorn or repression.
When God said, “Owe no man anything save to love one another” (Rom. 13:8) he meant for us to strive to pay what we owe to others. This certainly would include the responsibility to be aware of what we owe our children, and strive to give them all the rights God ordained for them.
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.
Cookeville, TN. 38501
Phone: (615) 528-3600