Little Shoulders Carry Big Burdens

Warren F. Kenney

Bro. Albert Farley's article, "Do Not Sin Against the Child" in the June 2005 issue of The West Virginia Christian, was superb and provocative of much thought. It reminded me of something I have often said when preaching on the family: "Little shoulders often carry big burdens." Our precious children are often saddled with burdens no one should have to carry. They would not have such burdens if we would only listen to and apply God's word.

Little children often carry the big burden of favoritism from one or both parents. If you study the life of Joseph, you know what a difficult situation favoritism presents. It is a burden to the one favored. It is a burden to the one(s) not favored. I know adults who are permanently scarred by this dreadful burden. The child who grows up constantly hearing that he or she can't do something as well as another will probably have emotional problems for life. I understand the difficulty of not having favorites, but please don't make your children carry such a burden.

Little children often carry the big burden of divorced parents. It is not unusual, in areas like Martinsburg, for children who come from solid, stable homes to be a decided minority. The sad thing here is that children of divorced parents often blame themselves for their parent's divorce. "If only I had behaved better." "If only I had done something different." "If only I, if only I, if only I." What an awful burden to place on the shoulders of children. The best way to avoid this is to make sure your marriage is strong. God does not look approvingly upon the tragic divorce scene in America today. It has reached the place where one out of two marriages ends in divorce, and many of these divorcing men and women are parents. Those children who are involved are often frightened and confused by the fact that their world is crumbling around them. This awful sin has found its way into the midst of God's people. May God have mercy!

Little children often carry the big problem of abuse. Sometime in the sixties we found what was called the Battered Child Syndrome. In today's society, one in four girls is sexually abused, and we are becoming more and more aware of the sexual abuse of boys. There are ways to abuse children other than sexual. The abuse may take the form of neglect, physical beating (not talking about physical discipline, for not all physical discipline is abuse), and emotional abuse. Children who are abused are afraid to tell anyone because they are afraid of the abuser. There are several fruits of abuse evident in our society, such as serious mental and physical health issues, alcoholism, suicide, drug abuse, delinquency, violent and criminal behavior, and severe social difficulty. One of the most hard to understand results of child abuse is the fact that the abused become abusers. You would be doing a great work for God if you would make sure abuse is never a part of your home atmosphere.

Little children often endure the burden of permissiveness. A permissive parent is a parent who establishes no rules and no consistency when it comes to punishment. Such parents have children who are confused by not knowing what the rules are. The home atmosphere is also one of chaos since the children are in charge rather than the parents. Children are not equipped for such responsibility. Do your children a favor - i.e. you be the parent and let them be the children.

Little children often bear the burden of overly strict parents. Here the children are severely disciplined for every infraction. They are never allowed to say or ask questions that would make it appear that they are questioning the authority of their parents. These children are actually afraid of their own parents. If they misbehave, they hope with all their might that their parents do not find out. If they get a bad grade, they will hide it. I have a dear friend who used to say that if you tie a dog on too short of a rope it will really go wild if it gets loose. This often is what happens in this situation. At the first taste of freedom the child goes wild. The wildness is most often a rebellion against over strictness.

It is true. Little shoulders often carry big burdens, even more than we've mentioned here. We encourage you to make things different in your home. A friend used to loan me a book and say, "Now, just treat it as if it were mine." I encourage you to consider your children as gifts from God, and treat them as if they belong to Him. The fact is, they do. -90 Waverly Cr., Martinsburg, WV 25401.


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