By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Frank Martin is the men’s basketball coach at the University of South Carolina. He is the kind of coach you appreciate if he’s with your team and probably dislike if he’s not. He has a fiery personality and a stare that matches former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summit. If you know basketball, you know exactly what I mean.
Martin sometimes has been criticized for being too hard on his players, but most players who “survive” four years with him usually sing his praises.
Martin made a comment recently about kids that has gone viral over the Internet. He said, “You know what makes me sick to my stomach? When I hear grown people say that kids have changed. Kids haven’t changed. Kids don’t know anything about anything. We’ve changed as adults. We demand less of kids. We expect less of kids. We make their lives easier instead of preparing them for what life is truly about. We’re the ones that have changed.”
With Mother’s Day just behind us and Father’s Day approaching, all parents need to consider Martin’s comments. There’s a lot of common sense in those words.
Parents all want the best for their children. And we should. God wants what is best for His children. We should be no different.
Yet, God has wisdom we can never have. While many parents place the blame for problems on someone else’s kids, God knows His children will disobey Him and stray. Just read the story of Adam and Eve. It’s only gotten worse since then.
Maybe that is why there are so many verses in the Bible on being a parent. One verse that should be ingrained in the hearts and minds of every parent is Proverbs 22:6 (KJV), “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
A lot of verses deal with discipline. Proverbs 23:13 (ESV) sums it up well, “Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with a rod, he will not die.”
But the Bible also cautions parents as well. Ephesians 6:4 (Holman CSB) reminds us, “And fathers, do not stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
I will add one caveat to Martin’s comments. Kids do know one thing. They know enough to push adults, especially parents and grandparents, to the limit. My two grandsons, Eli and Parker, know they have a soft touch in their “Pappy and Grandma,” but even at the ages of 4 and 2, they know when they cross the line. They may pout but they know there are boundaries and if they continue to go beyond those boundaries, there are consequences.
Therein lies the problem. Too many adults today did not have boundaries set for them and they don’t know how to set boundaries for their children. As a result, some kids never learn the meaning of the word, “no.”
Then, there are parents who try to protect their children from any and all adversity. While that’s a noble goal, it is impossible and impractical. No parent will live forever and be able to protect their child from bad things that happen. What’s more, we do our children an injustice if we try to do that.
Children need to learn early in life that they won’t always get a trophy. Sometimes they will lose. Sometimes they won’t get the scholarship or job they think they earned and deserve. Sometimes, those awards and jobs go to people less deserving.
Is it fair? No, but that’s the principle that we sometimes fail to teach our kids. Life is not always fair. That’s why I lean so heavily on John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous. I have conquered the world” (Holman CSB).
We need to teach our children they are not exempt from problems and adversity because life is not always fair. More importantly, we need to show our children and grandchildren that God is the only answer to life’s difficulties. The most important thing we can do for our children and grandchildren is to introduce them to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and to live a life where they can see His love through us.
While the Bible cautions that being a parent is not easy (and it’s not), Scripture also tells us there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Proverbs 29:17 is a reminder that if we correct or discipline our children “they will give us comfort and delight our soul.”
What a wonderful promise and challenge to be the parents God has called us to be!