Have You Ever Wondered—
“Can I Protect My Child from Delinquency?”
“I’D GIVE anything to keep my child from turning out bad, but at times I feel so helpless.” This is how one parent felt. Perhaps you do too.
Most parents consider their children very precious. Over a period of years they invest time and money—plenty of it—in helping their children to become responsible adults. Yet, so many youngsters cause their parents heartache. There is no need to give the sad details. You know what is happening in your own neighborhood. Certainly, rearing a child today is no easy task.
WHY IS IT DIFFICULT FOR PARENTS TO PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN?
Parents must compete with many powerful forces that can dramatically influence children. They are daily in the company of other children and adults who are selfish, disrespectful and immoral. Also, many of the popular movies, TV shows and books viewed by youngsters belittle right principles.
Most parents have to work long hours to provide food and shelter. Often they feel too tired—either mentally or physically—to give their children needed time and attention. Also, parents make mistakes in their own lives. Being human, they are prone to do things that do not set the best example for their youngsters.
All of this makes it difficult to keep a child from picking up bad habits and getting into trouble. Yet, these obstacles can be overcome if parents stay emotionally close to their child.
HOW CAN YOU STAY CLOSE TO YOUR CHILD?
The first step is to recognize your child’s great need for your love and attention. The Bible strongly recommends that parents “love their children” and “not be exasperating [them], so that they do not become downhearted.”—Titus 2:4; Col. 3:21.
The book “Help! I’m a Parent” affirms this need by saying: “This search for a feeling of love and attention is probably the most important explanation of your child’s behavior.” Some parents who are insensitive to this need tend to substitute other things for it. For instance, one 15-year-old girl bemoaned: “Nice parents are those who are not like my mother. Her main worry is that I should be dressed ‘as well as the others.’ But neither she nor Father takes the time to talk with me.”
Your time is needed. There is no substitute. This means taking time to do things together, to talk with them and, more importantly, LISTENING as they pour out their problems.
Genuine love means more than mere pleasant conversation with your child. It means setting down right guidelines for the child and firmly insisting that these be followed—in a word, DISCIPLINE! Long ago the Bible showed that this is a sign of real love, saying: “The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.”—Prov. 13:24.
“Discipline is a special kind of love,” reports one authority. “It says, ‘I care about you. I will not let you get into trouble. Rant and rave, . . . but the answer is no—and that’s final!’” Yet, despite the best of parental concern and discipline, a child must face bad influences from others.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO PROTECT YOUR CHILD AGAINST BAD INFLUENCES?
Yes, but you must supervise what your child sees and reads for entertainment. As a veteran police chief indicated, ‘Parents must not let their children’s minds feed on garbage.’ A parent also must exercise care as to whom he allows his child to have as companions, for the Bible says: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Cor. 15:33.
Though corrupting influences are everywhere today, we can be comforted to know that they are not permanent. The Bible promises that soon, within our generation, God’s heavenly government will see to it that his ‘will is done on earth as it is in heaven.’ This will mean the removal of wickedness and the establishing on earth of tranquil conditions such as now exist in heaven.—Matt. 6:9, 10; Ps. 37:10, 11.
Until that time no parent can shield his child entirely from bad influences, so the Bible realistically advises parents to fortify their child’s mind. How? By ‘bringing him up in the mental-regulating of Jehovah.’ (Eph. 6:4) If a parent can instill the laws of God into a child’s mind and heart, these can act as a controlling or ‘regulating’ influence. They will help the child maintain proper conduct even when he is away from home.
But how can you instill such principles into your child’s mind? Many parents feel at a loss.
WHERE CAN A PARENT FIND HELP?
For decades Jehovah’s Witnesses have been spending millions of hours helping families to learn and apply Bible principles free of charge. A recent nationwide television broadcast in the Federal Republic of Germany vividly showed the value of their work in helping persons to cope with juvenile delinquency.
After seeing the program, one woman who was deeply impressed by the Witnesses’ success in fighting drug abuse, called a local Witness. She had seen on TV how the Witnesses use the book “Your Youth—Getting the Best out of It”* to help parents to instill in their children right standards. The book contains such chapters as “Drugs—Key to Real Living?” “Should You Drink Alcoholic Beverages?” and “How Do You View Your Parents?” The woman pleaded: “My son has a drug problem. Do you think you could help? Would you be willing to try?” Soon she and her son were receiving personal help and benefiting from the association of adults and children who, though not perfect, are trying to live by the Bible.
Why not take advantage of such help. You have nothing to lose by such an investigation. No doubt you will agree with the parent who realistically said: “Today we parents need all the help we can get.”
Published by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.