Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 17, 1950

The Home And Its Young People

Jack Hardcastle, Lubbock Texas

A few years ago I returned for a short visit to my boyhood home in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains. While strolling through the old family cemetery, I encountered two boys on their way home from school. When I found them to be the sons of a former acquaintance, I walked with them down the path that led to their home. Just to be making conversation, I asked the older boy about his schoolwork.

"What grade are you in?" I inquired.

"First," he answered.

"What!" I exclaimed, "You are in the first grade! How old are you?"

"I'm twelve," then turning his head, he spat over into the weeds at the side of the path and concluded, "Teachers around here ain't much good."

It took me four years to see that this explanation of his failure to progress was not just an amusing alibi, but the truth—the bare, unvarnished, undeniable, tragic truth. It is the helpless wail of young America and a most stinging indictment against this present adult generation. Teachers are responsible, at least in a large measure, for what we are; and in too many cases the "teachers ain't much good."

When I say that people, generally speaking are what they are because of what they have been taught; I do not mean we are made by the schools. A very small percent of what we know is learned in schools. We learned a great deal from the big boy that lived up the street. We learned still more from the older folks who talked and acted before us, seeming not to realize that their words and acts were becoming a part of our lives. Indeed, every experience, every contact, every association, leaves an indelible mark and exerts an influence for good or bad on all our future.

Parental Responsibility

During the most impressionable years of childhood and youth, our most important teachers are our parents; and too many parents are not prepared for the responsibility. They have not been taught how to bring up children; they have been taught how to keep from having children. When this teaching has proved ineffective and a little bundle of joy comes to bless the home, the parents are ready with a six or seven months course of ambiguous and contradictory advice from doctors, nurses, baby books, and relatives. They start the little fellow off on a formula, and bring him up in the nurture and admonition of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Lone Ranger, and baby sitters. At the very earliest age they bundle him off to school, and from that hour he is the ward of the state, so far as training of the mind is concerned. The fact is, most parents do not know what to do with the children around the house. "I will certainly be glad when school starts so these children can get out from under my feet" is an actual quotation from a mother —a Christian mother—of my acquaintance.

So the schools are given the responsibility of training the child's intellect and attitudes; the theatre furnishes the entertainment and sets the moral standards; and the child for some reason or no reason is sent to Sunday school. I heard some parents agree recently that all children should be in Sunday school, because "it couldn't do them any harm." But the point I want to emphasize is, the most important teachers of all "ain't much good" because they shift their responsibility to other agencies which, however essential in their own realm, cannot and should not take the place of the home.

Decline Of The Home

Although the home cannot be replaced, it is being displaced. The very ones who should be the protectors and defenders of the home—Christian parents—are contributing to the destruction of it. By driving our youth out to find diversion in clubs, youth centers, and public entertainment places, we are making a shambles of the home. How long has it been since you heard someone sing, "Home, Sweet Home?" Why do we not hear songs like that any more? Isn't it because the home doesn't mean what it once did? What do most of our boys and girls think of when they think of home? A house where the linoleum is freshly mopped and waxed and mustn't be tracked up. A living room cleaned up for tonight's company—they must stay out of the living room. A place where they cannot bring their friends and receive the needed guidance in proper associations. No wonder so many find improper associations. There may not be room for them in their home, but Satan always can find room for another.

Church Furnish Entertainment?

One indication that the home is failing is the demand from parents all over the country that the church take over the recreation and social service departments of the home and furnish entertainment and entertainment places for our young people. Many congregations, recognizing that such demands have created a problem, are making frantic efforts to solve the problem by every sort of appeal to the young people—striving to work with and on the young people to cure a disease by treating the symptoms. The problem is not a "young peoples problem" but a "parent problem." What we need is a return to the God-given responsibility in the home. As long as we have the parent problem we will continue to have the youth problem, and ignoring the one will not help to solve the other. The present trend of transferring to the church much of the work which belongs to the home is serving not only to weaken the home but also to burden the church.

(From the Gospel Defender)