Editor’s note: Lovefraud honors and respects all spiritual traditions. This article refers to teachings of Christianity.
By Joyce Alexander, RNP (Retired)
Recently there have been horrible and depressing videos and news stories about parents who are “supposedly” upright citizens but are abusers of their children. Even a professional person like Judge William Adams was seen on video severely beating and cursing his 16-year-old daughter. In addition, there have been in my own acquaintance a minister with children who was caught in a pedophile pornographic sting by the police as he was sending pictures of his “junk” to what he thought was a 14-year-old girl, who thank goodness, was a 40-year-old deputy sheriff.
This sort of news, along with the “usual” news of the people who abuse children, story after story, is so depressing: The former Penn State football coach preying on underprivileged kids. A man who beat his three-year-old stepdaughter to death because she didn’t want to eat a hot dog. The step mother who killed the deaf little Australian girl who had already survived cancer at the loss of her leg.
It is severely depressing to me that such horrible things go on every day to children who have no choice about leaving an abusive relationship. It is depressing to me that people know about “bruises” on these children before they are severely wounded or killed, and fail to report it to the authorities, or fail to take action. It is difficult for me to get these stories out of my mind, or to hold back the tears of rage, frustration and anger that I hold against these situations and the people who do these horrible things in their own lives and yet, sit on the bench in family court, or stand in the pulpit and “preach” to others about how to raise a child, while going home and secretly texting “dirty pictures” to what they believe is a young girl.
The text for most sermons for bringing up children in a Christian manner is taken from St. Paul speaking to the various churches about how to bring up their children.
Ephesians 6:4—“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
Colossians 3:21—“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”
Overall, Paul is teaching us not to promote an angry mood or disposition in our children. Doing so may boomerang on us, because children will eventually reflect the disposition of the parents. Firmness in correction is fine, but we must especially be careful about our temperament when we give correction. Paul is talking about injustice, over-correction, neglect, and physical cruelty in correction.
If we want our children to grow up with empathy, compassion and a moral compass, we must display and model these things for our children so that they can emulate our own empathy, compassion and our own moral compasses. Children are not born knowing “right from wrong,” but are born with the capacity to learn right from wrong by our teaching and our modeling.
Too many times parents say to their children “do as I say, not as I do.” But the funny thing about that is our “actions speak louder than words.” Or these same parents will use the text from the Old Testament as an excuse to exercise physical abuse against the children that they are trying to “correct.”
Proverbs 13:24—”He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes.”
Proverbs 23:13-14—”Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell.”
The old phrase “spare the rod and spoil the child,” by the way, is not actually in the Bible, but is condensed, it is thought, from the above verses.
What is the “take away lesson” from all of these depressing stories of abuse of children, even by “esteemed members of the community”—judges, lawyers, doctors, teachers? I think that we as individuals are not only responsible for being role models for our own kids, but are responsible for watching out for the welfare of the kids in our neighborhoods, the kids in our scout troops, the kids in our churches, the kids in our neighborhoods, the kids our kids play with.
As citizens, we may not be “mandated reporters” and required by law to report even the suspicion of child abuse to “child protective services,” as most professionals (doctors, lawyers, teachers, social workers, etc.) are in most states. But I think that we ARE mandated by our compassion for the pain and danger of these children, and our own consciences, to report these events, or even the suspicion of abuse to the authorities. If these children are being “provoked to wrath” and “discouraged” by abuse, only the intervention from an outside source can truly stop it before it is too late. Psychopathic parents or stepparents will not stop the abuse on their own, and we, of all people, as former victims of psychopathic abuse, should know this.