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How can I raise a "normal" child 

in a world that is out of control?

Proverbs 22:6

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School shootings, sexual experimentation, drugs, gangs, cable television, poor academic standards . . . times have changed. What's a parent to do? How can we raise a "normal" child in a world that is spinning out of control?

This is a subject that doesn't have any easy answers. No one in this room has experience raising children in the 21st Century. Though times are changing, I'm certainly glad that some things never change-like the truths of the scripture. Solomon wrote, "Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6 NASB)

That promise remains intact today.

But I suppose the question is, how can we best "train a child?"

In the best selling book "She said Yes!" Missy Bernall tells the story of her daughter Cassie, one of the students killed at Columbine High School. Cassie grew up in church, she came from a nice family, had friends and a nice life. 

Then it all changed. 

When Cassie entered high school (not Columbine) she changed peer groups. She became friends with some teens who were into Satanic Rituals and other destructive behaviors. Soon Cassie and her friends we praying to Satan for a teacher's and their parents' death. Life at home with Cassie became unbearable. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, until it couldn't get any worse. And then it got worse.

Missy, Cassie's mom, found some letters between Cassie and her friends describing their plans for murdering their parents. When they confronted Cassie all 'hell' broke loose. Grounding her didn't help. Cutting her off from the phone didn't solve it. In fact, telling the police and getting the families together only made it worse--Cassie's parents became the target of blame. 

Where had they gone wrong? The Bernall's were providing a nice home for Cassie, they loved her, they took her to church, and yet she was becoming their worst nightmare. Like many Christians, the Bernall's squeezed in time for their children, but something had to change-what they were doing wasn't working! (From FreshIllustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

You know the feeling don't you? We run out of daylight long before we run of things to do.

Today, many parents are taking on extra hours and second jobs to provide for their families. Overtime and second jobs means more money but also means less time for family.

A recent Gallup Poll revealed that a nationwide survey of parents of children ages 7-12 that family time has decreased since 1976. The percentage of respondents who engaged frequently in attending religious services together decreased from 38 percent in 1976 to 29 percent in 1997. The percentage who engaged frequently in watching television together decreased from 54 percent to 42 percent. The percentage who engaged frequently in sitting and talking together decreased from 53 percent to 42 percent. The percentage of respondents who frequently have the main meal together on weekdays decreased from 72 percent to 58 percent -- and the percentage who take a vacation together decreased from 53 percent to 38percent. 

The only family activity that increased in frequency was shopping. In 1997, 31 percent of the families polled said they shop frequently together. This was up 7 percent from 1976. 

Of course, work is not the only thing competing for family members' time. It is not just the parents that are busy. School activities, sporting events, dance/music/art/athletic classes, volunteer efforts, etc., are all pulling parents and children in many directions. 

(From FreshIllustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

I certainly don't have all the answers on this one, but I believe a starting point for "training up a child in the way they should go" is to spend some time with them. Which means, parents have got to simplify their lives and so do the kids.

Begin by asking, do I really have to work this many hours?

Then, ask the kids, do you really have to play every sport, be a member of every club, and try out for every play?

Weed down the hours you're spending out of the home and make some time to be together. You will not train a child if you're never with them.

And don't even start talking to me about quality time! I don't buy it. Do you think your boss would settle for quality time?

A few years ago, I wrote a devotional on the subject, let me read it to you before you answer that question:

Wearing a fresh shine on his shoes, a suit his wife gave him on graduation day and a determined look on his face, Brian stood outside his new office. It wasn't the corner office, but it looked pretty good to him. The smell of new leather from his chair and the warm glow of sunshine streaming through the window greeted him as he positioned his alligator briefcase on the corner of his mahogany desk.

Click, click. Brian opened his briefcase and took out three items--a hammer, a nail and his college degree. "Hello, Brian." Mr. Pensky, Brian's new boss said as he extended his right hand, "Welcome to Acme Widget, Inc." Still holding the hammer, Brian reached out to shake his employer's hand. "Excuse me, sir," Brian said, noticing his mistake. He sat the hammer on his desk, shook Mr. Pensky's hand and said, "It's good to be here sir."

Mr. Pensky smiled, and turned to leave. As he was walking out of the room he said, "We'll be having a staff meeting at 10:00 this morning in the conference room, I'll introduce you to everybody then." 

"I'm sorry, sir, but that won't work for me." Mr. Pensky spun, reentered the room and stood motionless in his grey flannel suit. "What do you mean that won't work for you?"

"We'll," Brian explained, "I'm planning on leaving the office around 9:30 this morning to go fishing with some friends. You know what they say, 'it isn't the quantity, but the quality of time that matters.' I won't be spending much time in the office while I'm working for you, but I assure you the time I spend will be high quality."

It takes more than "Quality time" to keep a job, and it takes more than "Quality time" to raise a family. It takes real time--the combination of quality and quantity.

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