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Carol Perkins: First years of life are basic training

As every fulltime minister knows, preparing for an important role in Sunday Service can yield some anxious moments, as Carol Perkins reveals in the decision making time leading up to big moment, giving the children's sermon. But then it came to her: The first years are Basic Training for Life.
Next previous Carol Perkins article: Carol Perkins: Keeping up appearances is hard work

By Carol Perkins

I was thinking last week about what topic I would use for my turn to do the children's sermon at church last week.

Nothing came to mind until in the middle of a sleepless night: Basic Training.

That's what I'll use as a metaphor of life because the first eighteen years of a child's life are spent in basic training. These fifteen or twenty young people who will sit in front of me on the first pew are in basic training for life.

Never had I compared the two.

Think about how many orders a child is given during the day. Directions, suggestions, commands, or rules- to a child they are all the same. There isn't a drill sergeant, as such, in their lives, but there are many people involved in training him/her to become a "soldier" and not retreat when times are tough, or go AWOL on life.

I thought about my "basic training." Without knowing it, I was learning how to become a productive adult, with knowledge seeping from all around me, coming from my home, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my teachers, clerks in stores, and the community in general.

I was also learning at Sunday school and church. When we teenagers talked too much as we sat on the back row, one of the adults would give us a look. That was part of our training, and it didn't come just from there.

Teachers guided us and we listened to authority. Did we go off the track a few times? Of course, we did, but we knew how to get back in line. From so many people I learned how to behave properly and be mannerly, but my training began at home.

When my children were young, I know I sounded like a drill sergeant too much of the time. "Time to get up!" I was their alarm clock.

"Time to get ready," as if they didn't know after years of school that it wasn't time to get ready.

"Time to eat, time to brush your teeth; time to go or we'll be late and be sure to close the door behind you!" The orders, the rushing, and the commands continued until until the last "shout out" at the end of the day, "Turn off the light and go to sleep."

They became accustomed to my orders, and knew what was coming before I said a word. I can see Carla rolling her eyes now.

Training youngsters is not much different than it used to be, but training teenagers is much more difficult today.

How do parents help them understand that texting during church is not appropriate?

Texting while the teacher is teaching is rude?

Texting at Easter dinner is impolite?

How do they train them to date the right person?

Make friends with those who are fig trees and not deadwood?

Is there a basic training for how to deal with bullies and gossipers and instigators?

The first eighteen years are not easy for children, but not a picnic for adults, either.

Most kids think to themselves, "I'll be glad when I grow up and am on my own."

Parents are thinking, "I'll be glad when I don't have to tell them every move to make."

Then the cycle starts over when children grow up and have children.

I am thankful for my basic training, but I grew up in a simpler world.

I admire parents who are trying their best to train their kids to be honorable soldiers in life when the battle is much harder today than it has ever been.

This story was posted on 2016-04-07 06:13:48
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