Back Toward Parenting - To Instill a Moral Compass

“I bought into the fashionable philosophy of not interfering; letting the children find themselves. When they were getting into trouble -- at school, or later with their relationships -- I would just bite my lip and tell myself, ‘Don’t butt in, it’s their lives.’”
This quote came from Nick Crews in an article in the British telegraph: I haven't done well as a father, have I? Softer side of the man who fired off 'Crews missile'. When raising his children, Nick had bought into the popular parenting philosophy that we do not interfere in the life of our children. Now that his children are in their late thirties, he is disappointed in them. From the sounds of it, rightfully so. Through living selfishly, they are not providing the safe and stable family that good parents should provide. Realizing this led to him writing a scathing letter to his children. (This letter is reproduced at the end of this post).

The writer of Proverbs taught us to "train up our child in the way he should go." Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Ephesus, wrote that we are to bring up our children "in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." If we have been blessed with children, we have also been given the opportunity/responsibility to raise them.

The Israelites took seriously God's instruction to raise their children. The law taught:
You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21 ESV).
If the truth is really in our heart and in our soul, we will have no problem passing it on to our children. Our society might try to teach us not to instruct our children on certain issues, but we won't let that peer pressure stop us. We might feel compelled to not interfere, but we know that passing down spiritual teachings to our children and learning how to handle whatever life may bring is more important than insuring that they know how to read, write, and do arithmetic. That might seem like crazy talk. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are great and essential, but they do not provide the moral compass that instructs us on how we should use our reading, writing, and arithmetic to make this world a better place.

If you give skills to a person without a moral compass, then you have just created a more empowered monster. They would be good at exporting jobs without caring about the people left unemployed, accumulating wealth just to selfishly indulge, and creating new and inventive ways to screw other people out of their money. A moral compass guides us into using our skills to make our communities a better place.

If we aren't willing to provide a moral compass to our kids, someone is going to instill their moral compass in them. If not us, then who? A popular musician? A wayward teacher? A deceased and disgruntled philosopher? The list goes on and on of people who are willing to raise our children for us and instill in them beliefs that are contrary to what we hold dear. They might grow up to be selfish, self-absorbed leeches on others rather than the blessings that God wants them to be.

Do you really hold dear the teachings of Jesus? You can see whether you do or not by whether you try to pass them down to your children. Do you teach your children to love those picking on them, to try to be a friend to the "unpopular" kids, or to give to others generously? Or do you teach them to fight back, avoid unpopular kids, and to live selfishly? None of us deliberately teach the latter two, but our actions speak much louder than our words.

Most of us don't have the teachings of Jesus written on our our door frames. You can go ahead and do that if you would like, but it is most important to have the teachings of Jesus written all over the way we live. We need to be living the life that we want our children to live. We need to be loving others the way that we want our children to love. We need to be seeking after God the way that we want our children to seek after Him. If there is something in our lives that we don't want our children to do, then we need to stop doing it ourselves. Otherwise, our children are more than likely going to do the things we don't want them to do. Likewise, is there something that you want your children to do? Then you need to start doing it with them now. Serve others together. Worship God together. Study together. Be the parent God created you to be.

If you don't do it now, it will be too late. And someone else will gladly take your place. Someone is going to instill their beliefs into your children. Is it going to be you? Someone else? Or some stranger? If you let a stranger do it, you increase the chance that you will see your grown up kids living in such a way that it is going to result in messed up grandkids. Nick Crews realized this too late. May we learn from his mistake. We aren't given a second chance when it comes to raising our children. Change today. Our children don't have time for us to change tomorrow.


Nick Crews' letter to his children:

Dear All Three,

With last evening's crop of whinges and tidings of more rotten news for which you seem to treat your mother like a cess-pit, I feel it is time to come off my perch.

It is obvious that none of you has the faintest notion of the bitter disappointment each of you has in your own way dished out to us. We are seeing the miserable death throes of the fourth of your collective marriages at the same time we see the advent of a fifth.

We are constantly regaled with chapter and verse of the happy, successful lives of the families of our friends and relatives and being asked of news of our own children and grandchildren. I wonder if you realise how we feel — we have nothing to say which reflects any credit on you or us. We don't ask for your sympathy or understanding — Mum and I have been used to taking our own misfortunes on the chin, and making our own effort to bash our little paths through life without being a burden to others. Having done our best — probably misguidedly — to provide for our children, we naturally hoped to see them in turn take up their own banners and provide happy and stable homes for their own children.

Fulfilling careers based on your educations would have helped — but as yet none of you is what I would confidently term properly self-supporting. Which of you, with or without a spouse, can support your families, finance your home and provide a pension for your old age? Each of you is well able to earn a comfortable living and provide for your children, yet each of you has contrived to avoid even moderate achievement. Far from your children being able to rely on your provision, they are faced with needing to survive their introduction to life with you as parents.

So we witness the introduction to this life of six beautiful children — soon to be seven — none of whose parents have had the maturity and sound judgment to make a reasonable fist at making essential threshold decisions. None of these decisions were made with any pretense to ask for our advice.

In each case we have been expected to acquiesce with mostly hasty, but always in our view, badly judged decisions. None of you has done yourself, or given to us, the basic courtesy to ask us what we think while there was still time finally to think things through. The predictable result has been a decade of deep unhappiness over the fates of our grandchildren. If it wasn't for them, Mum and I would not be too concerned, as each of you consciously, and with eyes wide open, crashes from one cock-up to the next. It makes us weak that so many of these events are copulation-driven, and then helplessly to see these lovely little people being so woefully let down by you, their parents.

I can now tell you that I for one, and I sense Mum feels the same, have had enough of being forced to live through the never-ending bad dream of our children's underachievement and domestic ineptitudes. I want to hear no more from any of you until, if you feel inclined, you have a success or an achievement or a REALISTIC plan for the support and happiness of your children to tell me about. I don't want to see your mother burdened any more with your miserable woes - it's not as if any of the advice she strives to give you has ever been listened to with good grace - far less acted upon. So I ask you to spare her further unhappiness. If you think I have been unfair in what I have said, by all means try to persuade me to change my mind. But you won't do it by simply whingeing and saying you don't like it. You'll have to come up with meaty reasons to demolish my points and build a case for yourself. If that isn't possible, or you simply can't be bothered, then I rest my case.

I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed.


The only thing that I would change if I were Nick Crews is that I wouldn't make it about myself. Nick should want his children's lives to be better for their sake, not for his bragging rights to friends. Not that that was his goal, but I can see that his children might take it that way.

If we fail to raise our children properly, our grandchildren will be the one's that suffer. And in some cases, we will get a chance to raise them. We need to do it right the first time because we will never get a second, except with grandkids. But that doesn't really count.

It is my hope that Nick Crews' family will grow closer and stronger as a result of this. It doesn't seem that way as I write this. So please shoot a prayer up for them. It is very unfortunate that this all became public over the Internet, but I hope that we will all be encouraged to be more of who God wants us to be as a result of seeing the Crews' family situation.


For a sarcastic take on this subject, read My Precious Little Criminals.