I don't normally read People magazine. In fact, I don't think I've read an entire one through except perhaps once or twice when I was particularly desperate during a long colour treatment at the hairdresser.
But this particular issue I read a few days ago. It's from a few months back, but it focuses on Jaycee Dugard, and my aunt, who has probably read fewer People magazines than me, gave it to me because we think that Jaycee is our fourth cousin. We haven't contacted her or anything because she's getting inundated with it right now, but we're obviously interested. And she's the spitting image of one of my cousins.
So I did actually read this People magazine. And in it I found some interesting vignettes I want to share with you that illustrate something important: education does not equal wisdom.
The story on Jaycee was really intriguing. They didn't go into detail about what she endured (which was appropriate; no one needs to know that stuff). But what is clear is that she was taken at the age of 11 in grade 5. She never went to school again. Her two daughters, who are now 15 and 11, have never been to school at all. Yet they have tutors now trying to help them regain lost time, and what they've found is that the daughters are doing really well. The one is testing at the level of a high school senior.
Jaycee didn't let her daughters be photographed for the article (also appropriate), but think about that for a minute: she's 14 years old and she's given birth, and what does she do? She takes motherhood seriously, because obviously she taught the girls everything she could, even though she herself was a child at the time. She got a hold of books so that they could read. And the article also noted that Jaycee had become a very good cook. So there she was, in a horrifying situation, with no real help, and yet she raised her daughters well and with some common sense.
Fast forward a few pages and there's another story, this one extremely distasteful, to put it mildly. Emma Niederbrock was a teenager, the daughter to Debra and Mark. Debra was a professor of criminology at a university. She has a Ph.D. Mark was a minister at a mainline Presbyterian church. They both had tons of education. They were in the middle of a separation, but apparently it was an amicable one and he was living at home.
Emma, meanwhile, developed a fascination with horrorcore rap (that glorifies murder & cannibalism). She dressed goth. Her mother thought it was a phase, and decided to let her do these things because she didn't want Emma to pull away. They drove her 1300 miles round trip to a concert, so that they could make sure she got home safely, even though that concert was all about dismemberment and torture. They also let a friend she met on the internet, Richard McCroskey, live at their house.
Unsurprisingly (to me), McCloskey brutally killed all of them, including another friend. He's now under arrest. But what makes me shake my head is why did the parents let her get involved in this? Why not just take away her internet connection? Ground her? Make her do volunteer work at a soup kitchen? Withhold her allowance? Set some limits?
Why do parents feel so impotent? We're not. We do have control, and when we exercise it, kids tend to respond. They need to know that there are limits, and that we care enough to set them. Besides, so what if it's a phase? It's still demonic, evil, and repulsive. Whether or not it's a phase, it's not something that should ever be tolerated. I hate to blame them when they've obviously paid a heavy price, but I'm writing this more for my readers than for anyone else.
Here's one girl, Jaycee Dugard, who had no education, but who did the best she could, and raised her children well. Then there's another couple with all the education in the world, immersed in a culture that celebrates tolerance and victimhood (that's what academia is, after all), and they forgot basic points about parenting.
An interesting side note: it's very rare that stories like these happen to intact families. I'm not saying they never do; only that in the vast majority of cases, there is family turmoil at home. All the mass murderers you know were likely children of divorce. It's just a fact. Now, so am I, so I'm not blaming all victims of divorce (or all of their parents). I'm just saying that dysfunction breeds dysfunction, and we shouldn't be surprised.
Okay, one more vignette. There's a cute story on the Duggars having their first grandchild. In it, Josh, the new dad, says that both he and his wife Anna were raised in intact families, and they will provide the stability and love they have both known to their daughter. It's really quite beautiful. The two look so young, yet I would so much rather have them as parents than have this college professor and her husband, who decided to let their teenage daughter do whatever she wanted to do. That's not how the Duggars operate. They have limits. They're strict. Their kids may not have Ph.D.s, but low and behold, they end up being wise.
Much of our culture's wisdom isn't wisdom at all. Wisdom is very easy to define: it begins with the fear of the Lord, according to Proverbs. When you know there's a god, and that He wants you to serve Him, you start acting differently. You know there are consequences. You know there is right and there is wrong. And you tend to raise your children that way.
Don't get immersed in our culture's version of parenting, which believes that children should always express themselves, and that teens need to be given freedom to experiment, and that rebellion is normal. That's not right. You are a parent, and so you have a responsibility to raise your child right. From my perspective, as a parent of a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old, when you raise them well when they're young, they get increasingly easy to manage. They're a lot of fun now, and in many ways they're more moral than I am. They've had a more stable upbringing, and they don't seem to have the same weaknesses I do. They're great girls. And if they ever rebelled, they'd hear about it from their father and me.
Don't be afraid to exercise your authority. Don't be afraid to teach your children well. It worked for the Duggars. It even worked for Jaycee. And look what happened to a couple who forgot the basics.
Have a great weekend! Have fun with your family. Do something Christmasy! I'm off to speak today for the LAST time until February. I'm giving my Christmas tree talk. Here's the beginning:
About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.