A couple of weeks ago, I sent my older children into town to do a few chores while I stayed home to do laundry and school the younger ones. I could tell by the sound of the car as it charged up the driveway that something had gone amiss and I welcomed my children at the door with a questioning look. The expressions on their faces told the story - they had had a spat and were no longer speaking to one another, in fact, they refused to even look each other in the face.
Allowing them a few minutes to sort through things in their minds, I went about my business, knowing they would come to me when and if they needed counsel. Within minutes, my son came to me and said, "Mom, can I talk to you outside?". Knowing that he knew the biblical method of solving problems I directed him to his sister. "It is she you need to talk to, not me, son. Your problem is with her, not with me. Speak kindly and gently and take care of this situation". He almost spat the words, "NO - I don't even want to look at her, much less talk to her!", and he turned on his heel and strode out of the room.
Looking at my daughter, I knew that her sentiments mirrored her brothers. The air was thick with tension. Hoping my children would resolve their differences with no intervention, I held my tongue.
Finally, I realized it was time to "mother" my children. I went to my son first. His face was set in stone and he really didn't want to hear what I had to say. I didn't yell or fuss at him, or tell him he was acting foolishly, I just reminded him what the bible had to say about conflict resolution. I reminded him that he was going to be the head of a household someday and it would be his responsibility to direct his family with wisdom and grace. I told him that he was laying the groundwork for his future life - that how he dealt with things now would dictate how he dealt with things in the future. I told him that he was laying the foundation for his family and that in turn was laying the foundation for the nation. I looked my son in the eye, told him that I was proud of the Godly man that he was becoming, gave him a hug and walked out of the room.
Fifteen minutes later, I looked out my front window and caught a glimpse of my daughter sobbing and my son encircling her in bear hug. They hugged and talked for a few minutes and by the time they came back in, they were laughing and teasing. My children had been hurtful and mean and had reacted poorly to each other. They could have allowed their conflict to damage their relationship, however (with a little bit of encouragement) they chose to talk to one another, admit their wrongdoing, ask for forgiveness and grant lifegiving grace.
God is so good. When we choose to deal with conflict according to His word, we begin to build a foundation for our life that will not crumble. I have been blessed to walk with my children from the time they were born, and speak into their lives. I have found that, although it is important to be home when the children are small, it is almost more important to be home when they are older. I have found myself in the middle of life-changing conversations, with my children sharing their very souls, in the middle of the day after they have had a run-in with a sibling or a cherished friend. I have searched the bible with my kids when they have been angry and hurt and seen God's word become a soothing balm to their inmost parts. I have listened while my children dispense the very same advise to their friends that I have given to them. I have smiled while my children have helped their friends honor their parents and offer Godly encouragement to them. They are building a strong foundation for their lives, and in doing so, they are building a strong foundation for our nation.
As parents, we have the ability to affect our nation by how we raise our children. If we choose to allow the schools, the churches and the television raise our children, we will be lost. We must actively engage in raising them, training them, discipling them. We have to teach them how to interact with each other and with other people. We have to teach them how to solve their own problems, how to control themselves and how to be productive members of society. Our job is crucial, parents. WE are the future of our country - not the teachers, preachers or any other number of people we put in charge of our children. This country is on our shoulders. It is our responsibility. WE have to teach our children well.
Every day we build the foundation for our nation. We build it in our homes, in the very hearts of our children. As much as we would like to blame the state of our nation on "them", the direction of our nation rests firmly on our shoulders. Parent up, people - we only get one shot at this!