Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dad, please give me the freedom to make decisions concerning myself

Few days after I scolded my 16-year old son via-SKYPE (I’m working overseas away from my family, that’s why) for coming home one night drunk, I had come across a family-related article while browsing the threads of a social networking group. The article enumerated Ten Commandments of a child to his parents and the line that catches my attention was the 7th commandment that says, “Please give me the freedom to make decisions concerning myself. Permit me to fail so that I can learn from my mistakes. Then, someday, I’ll be prepared to make the kind of decisions life requires me.”

The message permeates into my line of thinking. I tried to weigh things if what I did to my son a few days back will do him harm than good or vice-versa. I looked at the complete picture in the future and weighed possible consequences if this incident (coming home drunk) remains unchecked. But despite of it all, there’s still one question that remains which I believed is the main pivotal issue here--whether denying your children the freedom to make their own decisions concerning things about them is justifiable or not.

One may easily quipped that as a parent, I failed on that premise of the commandment. However, before jumping to the conclusion, let’s paraphrase this commandment with questions so as to qualify whether the action point is justifiable or not. Let’s try to answer these questions:

•When is the appropriate time to give this freedom to the children for them to make decisions?
•Are these mistakes can really make them better equipped to make the kind of decisions that life will require of them in the future?
•What if there are ways to learn life’s lesson without repeating same mistakes, would you still let the children learn it themselves by going through it?
•What if the consequences of such mistake is irreversible, would you still allow this privilege to be practiced?

To answer these questions, let’s see what God has commanded us. It’s true that it is written in the Bible for the elders not to under estimate the young;
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

But the Lord also had said;

My son, keep your father's and do not forsake your mother's teaching. (Proverbs 6:20)
Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. (Proverbs 1:8)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise. (Ephesians 6:1-2)
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)

And the verses that said it all are these;

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:5-9)

So my advice to all the youths, heed the advice of your parents and take their counsel learned through years. You parents want nothing but the best and what is good for you. It is not that your parents are undermining your capability to decide but they simply wanted to offer you a free and proven solutions to life’s problem because they have been there once in their lives. Don’t think that your elders are curtailing your freedom to make decisions for yourselves. Yes, your parents wanted you to learn from your mistakes to make you fully prepared to make the decisions someday in your life but what your parents are after is for you to learn the lesson without going through the same pains and sufferings they had experienced because they loved you. And because of that love that they don’t want you to feel the pains that goes with each mistake for whatever pain you will feel, this could be more than double for them. It would be foolish to repeat the same mistake after having been told of it and as King Solomon said, “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.” (Proverbs 10:1)

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