hands off = don’t care

Another gossip column rant this morning- this time it’s not Dear Abby, but Ask Amy (Donna likes to read the newspapers, and with two papers I get twice as many word puzzles.)

The question this morning was asking how tough a parent should be with activities such as having your children learn piano, get all A’s in school, etc. The parent writing was raised in a strict Asian family with very little “kid” time, and the other parent is (the writer says) a ‘hands-off’ type.

Amy did OK, and ended up saying kids have their friends, and if you’re the Mom or Dad, you are NOT one of their friends, you’re their parent- act like one!

Amen to that, Sister!

Hands off is not allowing your children to grow- it is removing accountability and preventing them from learning there are limitations in life and in relationships; it keeps them from being able to be aware, and respectful, of other people. Allowing children to be unaccountable for their actions and words (or lack thereof, if that is the case) is not helping them at all. Yes, there are times when we need to remember that they are just children, and still learning, but that doesn’t mean to allow them to ignore the consequences of what they do. It means we need to make them experience the consequences with mercy and patience. God is a great example of doing that, being understanding and merciful when He knows that is best, and striking you down when that is what is needed. And always, always, always willing and able to forgive.

I tried to be a parent to my children when I visited them; they are from my previous life, which ended in divorce, but I never left them- only their mother. However, since she was a ‘hands off, let’s be friends, you’re just children’ type of mother, who never felt responsible or accountable for anything she did or said, they were growing up the same way. Because I tried to be a parent, they now have rejected me and I am not allowed to be a part of their life. It’s been almost 4 years since I was able to talk or even email my son, and about 7 years with my daughter. My 4-6 hours with them every other Sunday or Saturday for over 20 years did not match up against the 24/7/365 teachings from their mother.

Here’s one example of how hands off is not helping the kids, at all:

I was with my children, Alexandra was about 8 and Bryce was about 3, and we were walking across the street. I held Alex’s hand and told her to look both ways for traffic to make sure it was safe, and her reply was that she didn’t have to look because I was the parent and I was supposed to make sure she is safe. Of course, that is an accurate statement- I am the parent, I am supposed to protect them, but that doesn’t remove her responsibility to protect herself. How will she learn to be a protective parent when she grows up if she isn’t taught this now? That was my argument- what happens when they become adults? If they are not taught how to be one, does it magically come to them in a flash the moment they turn 18? Maybe when they turn 21 they suddenly know what to do?

Proverbs tells us many things about disciplining our children, and how God disciplines us because He loves us. I am not saying a parent that is not a disciplinarian doesn’t love their children, or that one who is Machiavellian in their attitude is the most loving of all. What I am saying is that ‘hands off’ is the same as ‘I don’t care’, and children will pick up on that. Oh, believe-you-me, they know! If you don’t show concern and discipline for them, they will stretch that inch into a light year. Even if you are “strict”, they will still try to get away with as much as they can- that is what being a child is all about. To stretch the limits, to push to the edge, and further, until they are reeled in. It is a parents obligation to their child to teach them the ropes, so to speak, and that means how to tie things up and how not to get all tied up. A rope can lift you up or it can hang you: it all depends on knowing how to use it correctly.

I believe that the world is falling into satanic control, more and more each day. Look at the video games- violent, demonic, totally unconcerned for human rights or dignity. Look at the TV shows- sexual improprieties, killing, “justified” violence to each other, and just plain stupid…and I mean, REALLY stupid!

Look at the advertisements our children see on TV and in the magazines- people are sexual objects, products make you a better person, the more you have the more popular you will be. All focused on material items, which is all the enemy of God can offer. God doesn’t care about material things- He cares about our eternal soul.  Yeshua tells us to seek first the kingdom of God, and all these other things (what we need to survive while alive) will be given to us.

If you have kids, I am happy for you. I know you may not always feel that way for yourself, but as someone who has lost his children to hatred and unforgiveness (for the record, I wasn’t “Mr. Right”, either. I was no “Father Knows Best”, believe me) you should be grateful for being able to raise your children.

So raise them correctly, teaching them with proper levels of discipline, always tempered with forgiveness, love, mercy and patience. And remember-like it or not, this IS how it is- you are their example. They will not accept “Do as I say and not as I do” because no one does! They will be like you because your are in their very DNA, and what is good about you they have, and what is bad about you they have, also. And they will also have what is uniquely theirs. Appreciate their uniqueness and help them learn to develop it.

Hand off is (and I won’t accept any argument to the contrary) no different than saying you don’t care. It is condemning them to death (that’s what Proverbs tells us happens if we don’t discipline our children), and what parent wants to do that?


Why Do You Love God?

Maybe we should ask, “Why do we love, at all?”

What is it that can create both a strong attraction, and then an equally strong revulsion, often at the same time, and with the same person?

Before we can answer why we love God, we first need to know why we love.

I guess that’s it for today, then…I have no idea how to explain, define or even make a guess at why we love.

Let’s try this from a different angle: let’s ask , “How should we love the Lord?”

I think I can do this one, especially because God tells us exactly how to love Him: we love the Lord by obeying Him. In Yochanan (John) 14:15 through to 14:26 Yeshua tells His Talmudim (Disciples) that if they love Him they will obey Him. He further says (I paraphrase here) that the love they show Him will be shown to them by God, and they will all be together. Also they will receive the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as a comforter.

Let’s not get confused here, with regards to chronology: God loved us first and foremost.  Yeshua said that when we love Him we show our love to God, which makes sense since He also said, throughout the Brit Chadashah (Gospels, or Good News) that when we look at Him we see the Father, and to know Him is to know the Father. Loving Yeshua is loving God, but it was, always has been, and forever shall be that God, who forms us and knows us while we are still in the womb, loves us before we are even born.

God gives us Grace, forgiveness, and the rules telling us how to live and treat each other: these rules aren’t given so God can control us, they are given so we can become more holy and, thereby, be with God for all eternity. His laws and commandments aren’t really restrictions; in fact, they are the path to freedom and joyfulness. God blesses us when we obey (check Deuteronomy 28)  and His blessings are never ending. Maybe one of the reasons we love God is because of all the love He shows us. It is hard to dislike someone who constantly does good for you and shows you love and compassion.

However, since He is also the righteous Judge, when He disciplines His children (as all loving parents should do) we often turn against Him, reject and even curse Him.

I know when I was growing up my parents did the best they could for me- they had their own “demons” to overcome from their parents, and as I grew up I was very difficult, rebellious, extremely disrespectful and I did not feel love for them in any way, shape or form. It took quite a while, but when I was old enough and mature enough to understand them and where they were “coming from”, it made forgiving and appreciating them much, much easier. And I felt better about my relationship with them, too, because it had been reconciled. They are both gone now, but for years before they died they knew, and heard me say, I loved them. And for that I also love God, because He was a big part in my spiritual growth and maturity, and He showed me how to love. My love for the Lord is based on who He is and what He has done for me.

Loving God is not (and I think should not) be a romantic love- that’s just weird. As I said, I can’t define absolutely why we love someone or something, but I do believe the love we feel for God should be ‘above’ human love. It should be with respect and awe (doesn’t the one you truly love often inspire you, and sometimes just make you feel so proud to be loved by him or her?) and appreciation for all that He has done. We also need, as I did, to mature, emotionally and spiritually, so that we can begin to glean a little of the reasoning behind why God allows bad things to happen in the world, and bad things to happen to good people. It takes a very high level of spiritual maturity to accept that the gold must be refined through fire. Even though going through the fire is just a little less enjoyable than root canal without the benefit of anesthesia, those who love God with a mature, unselfish and spiritual love understand that the suffering and pain can be overcome by maintaining their loving trust in Him, which comes from the faithful understanding and acceptance that God only wants the best for us. It is that faithful trust and the love we feel for Him that strengthens us and enables us  to endure.

Why do you love God? If you haven’t asked yourself that question, you should. Is it only because of what He does for you? Do you feel love, or thankfulness? Do you accept God’s judgements, do you allow Him to make judgements and wait upon the Lord (as Proverbs says we should do?) or do you cry out for justice? Is it justice or revenge?

Or, would you rather be able to forgive as God does? As God commands we should?

Do you love God or do you just love what you want from Him?

The way God will know how much you love Him is to count how often you obey His commandments (He is talking about the ones in the Torah.) If you are obeying more than rejecting, then you are loving God. If you reject more than you obey, well….time to reflect on how much you want to love the Lord.

How many people scream out, “I love you, Jesus! Oh Lord! My God! How I love you!”, then they go home and do whatever they feel like doing, eat what they want to eat, and rationalize their sins.

I used to be a sinner who rationalized my sins; now I am a sinner who regrets my sins. It is that regret, my personal T’Shuvah, that enables me to obey God, and it is my obedience that demonstrates my love for the Lord. And it was His love for me that I (finally) came to recognize and accept, that made me want to love Him back.

Do you love the Lord? If you say, “Yes”, the next question you need to ask yourself is: “Does my obedience to the Lord show it?”