The memory of a broken mother ever lingers in my mind as this wonderful woman mourned the apparent lost soul of her son. Such a memory seems to never leave my mind because the person in my memory is constantly changing and another mother takes center stage.
There are broken hearts all over the world as a result of children making harmful decisions. Parents who blame themselves are often overwhelmed with sorrow and shame and sadly share their misery with others.
Since the beginning of my cognitive reasoning skills, I’ve questioned the cause of children making bad decisions. This is not a discussion that addresses why bad things happen to good people. Rather, an inquisition into why a particular child, raised in an environment of love and Christian values, would venture off the strait and narrow, and into darkened pathways.
The perceived anomaly is that the hoped-for prodigal has many siblings happily following the teachings of their parents. Why then do children make poor decisions, when all indicators are that the child’s environment was conducive to leading a life of proper behavior and social norms?
Some chalk it up to a DNA transfer at the time of conception and write it off as predestination. Certainly many of each child’s idiosyncrasies explain part of the problem, however writing off delinquent behavior wholly to nature leaves a vacuous feeling within my heart and a stupor of thought in my mind.
My current understanding of this paradox lies within a statement by W. Edwards Deming, the man who helped rebuild Japan after WW2. He said:
“94 percent of all failure is a systems malfunction.”
Within this powerful phrase is found hope for parents who struggle with raising children in a world that has lost her soul and moral compass. Using Deming’s statistic, there is a six percent chance that the wayward path taken by our misguided children is a direct result of mom and dad.
Be careful not to read into this statement an exoneration of parental behavior. What this means is that the systems used by mom and dad need to be addressed as both the culprit and the potential solution.
A system is like an employee. If the employee brings about good fruit, all are happy. However, if the employee produces bad fruit, the best recourse is to retrain or to eliminate the employee.
So it is with how we raise our children. Each child is individual and each child requires a unique system of rearing. Too often have I heard the explanation “I raised all of my children the same,” as a justification of why one child went astray.
Each child has an innate desire to be loved and numbered with others. The single most important ingredient in your system for the future is recognizing that you are the change agent. The 2nd most important is the desire to change.
Love is not the key, it is the starting position. The end result is intimacy and the catalyst to success is trust.