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Article #0201

Articles from Mac Bledsoe's Parenting With Dignity program.

The alarm is sounding

They are our kids and we must answer the alarm!

By Mac Bledsoe

Please be warned that, in this article, we may seem to be alarmed or worried. Well, we are alarmed and worried and it is because we are scared! We are scared for the children of America, some of whom belong to you.

About 23 years ago we had a very shocking experience… we were awakened from our sleep by our neighbor banging on the wall of our trailer house. He was screaming, "Our house is on fire! Our house is on fire! Call for help!" This was before 911 had become universal, so we dialed the number of the volunteer fire department and then ran across the road to see if we could help. Luckily, our landlord was on the fire crew so he was immediately on the scene and able to take charge.

The fire hall was only a mile down the road so the rest of the crew was there almost immediately. Our neighbor had gotten his wife and two older children out of the house but was yelling frantically that their baby was still in the house. The trained firemen told him there was nothing they could do because entering that burning building now was suicide. At that moment the father grabbed a blanket from the ground, dunked it in the kids wading pool in the back yard, pulled it over his head and crawled into the roaring house.

Moments later he crawled out with the two-year-old wrapped in the wet blanket. He had found her huddled in the corner of the closet, unharmed except for the effects of smoke inhalation. The father himself was now badly burned with little hair remaining on his head and blisters forming on his face, arms, and torso. The firemen were tending to him when one of them asked how he could take that courageous action when they, the firemen with all their training, had been able to do nothing. The father's answer was very enlightening. He looked calmly at the firemen and replied, "She's not your baby!"

Parental love can allow us to do some amazing things on behalf of our children and the time has come for some courageous parental action. The alarm is sounding. It is not the fire alarm at the volunteer fire department but it is sounding with equal urgency.

Just listen. Teen suicide is at an all time high; gang violence is out of control; teen pregnancy is more common every day; childhood drug abuse is stealing children's ability to make decisions and clouding their thinking everywhere you look; and this alarm is getting louder each day. The tragedy is that any one of the above situations could claim the life of one of our children just as surely as a burning house! We as parents must act and act now because they are our kids.

It is no longer acceptable to wait until our children are in crisis to teach them how to make the tough decisions about drugs, sex, friends, violence, and treatment of others, honesty, compassion, and the rest. Would you run into a burning building to save your child? Yes! Just like our neighbor; but wouldn't he have been better off teaching that two-year-old how to get out of the house before the place was on fire? Wouldn't kids be better served if parents gave more guidance before they were in crisis rather than waiting until things get hot?

Just last week we received a frantic letter from the distraught mother of a 13-year-old girl who is making some poor decisions. To quote the mother's letter, "We're having Big Troubles with our daughter's decision making! We have sent her to her Dad's for the time being to get her away from a no good, loser boyfriend!" The mother is in a second marriage and the daughter is the product of her first failed marriage. At the time when her daughter most needs her mother's guidance she is shipping her off to her Dad's with the thought that a change of location will bring about better choices.

What the daughter really needs right now is guidance in picking mates of the opposite sex, not a new environment. A new environment may be necessary if things have become illegal or life threatening, but the mother's role should be that of giving guidance and leadership, hopefully before the daughter has became involved. Now that she is involved the mother must become a source of information and guidance at this tough and challenging time. It is not right to "leave her in a burning building." This scenario is being repeated all across America. Parents are deserting their children at the very time when the kids need them most.

  • Have you begun in the process of teaching your children how to pick friends?

  • Have your children received usable guidance, from you, about appropriate behavior with the opposite sex?

  • Have you given your children instruction in how to act at their first exposure to a drug pusher?

  • Have you instructed your children in how to make the decision about entering a fight or walking away?

If your answer to any of these is, "No!" then you may be in the situation of the mother in the letter and you may be there sooner than you think. Our apologies for seeming to spend this entire article speaking of alarming and shocking thoughts but our current position simply has proven to us that increasing numbers of parents are leaving kids in burning houses or are waiting until the house is on fire before giving needed instruction to their kids. Please don't be one of those who wait until it is too late. The alarm is sounding and they are your kids!

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