Courtesy: Daniel Bramlett
I spent this afternoon with some of our Banner Hope kids. You’ve heard me say this before. These kids are fantastic! Clearly some problems exist in their world or they wouldn’t be a part of our program, but they are NOT bad kids. I’m always amazed by their thankfulness, their manners, their gentle way with my kids, and just their general demeanor. I am always struck by the deep desire I see in them (14-18 year olds) to just be kids, but their life circumstances keep them from being so.
Weekly we see KIDS who battle drugs in the home and close vicinity, KIDS who are surrounded by adults who are too selfish to allow their children to just be children. In many cases the children are raising their younger siblings, feeding themselves, putting themselves to sleep and figuring out basic life skills such as hygiene, nutrition, and civil obedience on their own. The way we view and talk about our teenagers must begin to be reshaped by their reality and not our own limited perspective.
I feel as though many times we make far too general blanket statements about the kids in our midst. For example, “kids today do not have manners, know how to work, understand respect, or appreciate their educational opportunities.” When in reality, none of these statements apply to the whole. On the whole, the opposite of these statements are true. Certainly disrespectful, unappreciative kids exist. But didn’t they exist in generations past? Wasn’t there such a thing as a teenager who was a “troublemaker”; the kid your momma didn’t want you hanging out with or your dad refused to hire around your place? Certainly there was. What’s more, haven’t most of our ‘problem kids’ turned out all right? Surely! I would suggest that many of them have become educators, a part of law enforcement, successful business owners and even pastors!
To be fair there are some kids in the system with fine, loving parents and grandparents who are at a loss as to what to do. They’ve tried everything and their kids still mess up. I want to encourage the parents who are doing their job. Keep loving! Keep working! Keep pressing in! Your kids notice, I promise. They see your hard work and your tenacious love and they will remember it when it counts. I know you fee exhausted trying to keep up with all the endless hours of compliance work the kids have to do as consequences for their behavior.
I know you are up to your ears with excuses from your kids as to why they keep disobeying. I understand how angry you get when your kid tests ‘hot’ for drugs or makes another dumb mistake. But remember their age and remember God’s patience with us. We still do dumb stuff, too! How many times do we know exactly what God expects of us and do the exact opposite? How many times do we stare Him in the face and refuse to submit? We love our sin, too. Have patience and don’t give up! Your kids are worth it.
In the end our world is bad and getting worse. But it is not the fault of our children. One day they will be all grown up and have to bear the brunt of the consequence and the solution. But that is not this day. On this day they still remain kids. Give them another chance and another and another…they’re kids. The tenacious parent produces an adult filled with character and perspective. A tenacious society produces a society filled with integrity-minded adults. Don’t give up yet!
My point is our kids today deserve another look. I love spending time with them! Our growing group of volunteers out at The Banner love spending time with them. They aren’t broken, messed up or damaged. They just need to be seen, heard and loved. Will you give them a chance?