“…this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:10
How sad to see a child show up at school in the fall with little to work with and inadequate clothing! How good it feels when we can do something to prevent this from happening. It is heartening to see so many things being done to “help” children succeed in school, but perhaps we should take a closer look at the results of our efforts.
Many times I have seen pencils in classrooms that have been broken in half. My husband and I were shocked when working on the Navajo Reservation to hear that some high school students were actually burning their new clothes that the tribe had provided. They called them “stogie” clothes.
When we give to children, we often have a picture in our minds of happy, appreciative little faces. We may even feel all warm and fuzzy visualizing a little child wanting to give us a hug. “We’ve done our part”, we may be thinking…but have we?
Children need to learn to earn. Parents need to learn to accept their responsibility for providing for their children. Where is the logic in thinking that we can give children everything they need or want and some day they will say, “You don’t need to give me anything now. I will do it all myself.”? Very seldom does this happen; rather, children grow up to become adults who think that someone else will take care of them. Also, It is not pleasant to think that parents may be spending money saved on school supplies for drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. In some cases, we may be enabling bad habits.
Should we stop giving to “help” children? No. Perhaps, however, we can put in extra effort to be creative in finding ways that both parents and children can be a part in earning these items. There is no doubt that earned items are appreciated and cared for much more than items freely received. Even if a child has to present a list of good deeds done as a price for items, that is some involvement. Written goals for the school year could be presented as another effort to earn needed items. I’m sure others can think of even more ways to ensure that parents and children take part in earning needed items.
Another problem arises in vetting people to know who really needs help. I like the idea of giving a teacher, or other person who works closely with the children, the things to be distributed as that person sees a need. Children and parents should do as much as they can for themselves first, before being given help.
Free haircuts, free clothing, free school supplies and free food in the backpack ministry, (some now call it the Wal-Mart bag ministry because the backpacks don’t come back), may carry the high price of the creation of an entitlement generation that others have to support. In addition, children are robbed of the wonderful feeling of accomplishment in doing things for self.