“You can’t let a young’n decide for himself. He’ll grab at the first flashy thing with shiny ribbons on it. Then, when he finds out there’s a hook in it, it’s too late. Wrong ideas come packaged with so much glitter that it’s hard to convince ‘em that other things might be better in the long run. All a parent can do is say ‘wait’ and ‘trust me’ and try to keep temptation away.”
– Andy Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show
I must confess that I am pulling this quote from a post on Facebook. I haven’t seen enough of The Andy Griffith Show to know exactly what episode this is from, but it speaks clearly to my heart, and is perfectly fit to share for Father’s Day.
From what I understand, Andy Taylor is saying this to a hobo or something like that when the latter asserts that he should let his young son, Opie, decide everything for himself. To be clear, Opie is something like ten years old, and certainly not even a teenager yet. Mind you, in those days, there tended to be much greater expectations for a youth, back before we locked them in schools, said they were too young to work, and handed them everything, including allowance they didn’t earn. Even so, a child is still a child, with innocence that should be protected and ignorance that must be gradually enlightened. Many children have had to grow up too fast, but, even then, there are burdens that they simply cannot carry with an adult’s strength. For one thing, in their inexperience, they tend to go for the first thing that even slightly appeals to them, completely unaware of how it could hurt them. Thus, the role of a mother and father, to restrain them from those things that they do not know would do them harm.
I know that nobody is perfect, and no single parenting style fits every kid, but let’s be honest: children have way too much power in our society today. They get so much leeway for behaviors that would have gotten the children of previous generations practically punted across the lawn, and, as a result, they have little respect for the experience of their elders, and they dive headlong into dangerous waters filled with predators. More than any generation before them, I would say, thanks to the technology which surrounds us. They have these shiny phones that connect them to the world at large, with everything that looks so scintillating and pleasurable, but veils a host of very real dangers the likes of which come out of parents’ nightmares.
Social media connects everyone to their friends, yay! It also connects them to bullies who don’t think twice about leaving diatribes of the most vicious nature plunged like daggers into the flesh of the soul, for any cause, any reason, or not even needing a reason.
The internet connects people looking for love, yay! It also opens the door to stalkers and predators of the most vile sort, spinning honeyed webs of words to ensnare unwitting children.
You can buy all the latest cool toys and gadgets and must-haves that you did not need before but do need NOW! And, also, every one of humanity’s filthiest, most twisted fantasies is for sale, and someone is telling you that you have a human need for it despite having never experienced it in any way, shape, or form before now.
You can build a worldwide network of like-minded friends to do good, share ideas, help people, and work to make the world a better place! Oh, and the ever-grinding machine of media which is vomiting out truths and lies interchangeably, trying to tell you what good is, what ideas are good, which people should be helped, and how the world must be save by you… RIGHT NOW, or all is lost!
Children and adults alike make the mistake of going for the first pretty looking thing to cross their path, and pay severely for it. Who can possibly believe that children don’t need their parents to be there to guide them through the unending hazards that life and the world have to offer? More to the point, who can rationally argue that children should not be limited in order to be protected?
I am glad… so very glad that I am tearing up as I write this… that I have a father who was there for me! My dad put up with a lot from each of us, and certainly from me. He did his very best to teach me about hard work when all I wanted to do was laze around and watch cartoons. He tried to teach me the things I would need in order to survive, when I didn’t want to learn them. He protected my life and safeguarded my mind and my soul as he strove to teach me right from wrong, and I was rarely in the mood to listen. He kept me from wandering off into paths that look pretty at first but lead only to misery.
All this he did while keeping clothes on my back, a roof over my head, food in my belly, books in my greedy little hands, the lights and the heater on, the car working, and so much more. He worked so hard for us, and made so many sacrifices for us, and was not always appreciated for it.
Oh, my father, you did so much for me, and I am thankful for it. I am glad for it. I thank God in Heaven that you are my dad. You, with all your flaws and frustrations and your love for me and my sisters. You gave us your all. Thank you.
Thank you, Dad, for being my dad. I love you!
Happy Father’s Day!