Against the odds
"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22.6
I wonder if this is the first generation where the influence of parents is subordinate to external influences, in particular social media? Those raised in boarding schools might reckon that our peers and teachers occupied the place of social media, thereby suggesting that the diminishing of parental influence extends even further back. What are the consequences?
To answer that question one must consider the nature of the social environments which are forming our children. In western society the current has been moving in the direction of individualisation, acquisitiveness and moral relativism. Parents whose values run counter to these trends face an uphill struggle. And the situation is further complicated when young people themselves feel rejected or grow disillusioned with their social cocoon. Violence - self inflicted or towards others - is too often the tragic consequence, begging the obvious question of what can be done?
There are no easy answers but, for people of faith, there is a place to start. The Book of Proverbs in the Bible addresses the need of young people for wise instruction, along with some cautionary reflections from those who have scorned it. In other words it commends both the acquisition and nurturing of maturity as a life-long process with life-transforming consequences. That surely deserves our attention!