Whether it be planned or unplanned, diligent or flippant, parenting is a worldwide task that is not only viewed radically different in separate countries, but also carried out in a distinctly individual method. For example, in Singapore the drive is mainly towards education and a successful career. Anything less and the family loses face through the math score of a 12 year old. On the other hand, American children are encouraged to make their own way yet still conform to the image that media and peers represent. The conflict is an easy choice for anyone wishing to survive through middle school. If you don’t want to be rejected, society tells us to become like everyone else. Though pressure is immense no matter what country you live in, science has shown that parents are still the number one influence in their children’s lives- yes, a close runner up to media and peers, but all the same, #1. In a world that will do anything to gain a lifelong customer, parents specifically must be strategic and interactive as they raise their children- the world and it’s traditional sense of justice in countless lives is literally at stake.
For justice to exist, there must be a framework for it to abide by. While good in itself, without direction it can accomplish nothing. As the core unit of every society, the family is an overlooked facilitator of social justice. The fact that a family involves more than one person in itself makes it a form of social justice. To be a society in which justice is protected and abided by, the framework must first be effective and secondly, it must be sustainable.
The family practices justice when proper structure is put in place and appreciated, when connectedness if valued, clear expectations are set, positive input is received and given and a father (or father figure) is supporting healthy attitudes and behaviors. Public policy rarely enforces or even supports this type of structure in families or society, yet the case for it’s encouragement is vital in society. Especially in the case of fathers, justice can only be perpetuated when the example is set. The Likelihood that a young male will commit crime doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in an neighborhood with a high concentration of mother only homes. Each year spent in a fatherless home raises a boys odds of being imprisoned by about five percent. (The Urban Church: Faith, Outreach, and the Inner City PoorJohn J. DiIulio Jr.) Children of single mothers have lower grades and educational attainment than kids who grow up with married parents, even after controlling for race, family background, and IQ. (Marriage and Caste, by Kay Hymowitz) Statistics consistently show that crime and education are similarly connected to a family structure and to uphold the traditional family enforces justice in society as a whole. When parents, as authorities in the home, enforce values especially in relation to media, they are practicing prevention in areas as radical as trafficking, embezzlement and exploitation. When a person supports any form of pornography or illegal activity online, they support (often financially,) the individuals who exploit human beings for business. There is no detachment from consumption and support in this arena. Only when authorities make clear boundaries and expectations will children know the extent of the crime being committed.
For the next generation to be inspired to change what’s wrong in the world, they must see that first at home. While parenting is viewed in many places as a obligatory task, there is no greater influence on society than parents. What they do, say, teach and influence carries beyond their own time and into the generations to come. To belittle their role in society is a crime in itself, but greater than that is the crime displayed in the mindset of a parent who does not realize the potential given to them in the form of a child. To invest deeply and sacrificially is a gift in itself. While it may seem small, unnoticed and unappreciated, it can and eventually ripple effect into eternity and into the lives of thousands. Whether for positive or negative is the choice of the individual. Justice seeks those who are willing and uses them to seek out the lost, broken and hurting- even and especially in their own homes and hearts.
(This post is an installment of a 5 part blog series written in response to a community service learning ministry trip. The topics are in relation to what was learned, experienced and observed during that time.)