This is the first of a 3 part series by Jay Fesperman. It is a valuable group of letters to us all!

David, a 16 year-old, sells sex to men and women on the streets of New York. He ran away from home at an early age. David tells kids, “Stay at home and be a child for as long as you can. Don’t grow up too quick.”. . .an article on the cover of a well-known women’s magazine: “The High Cost of Growing up TOO FAST.”

An expert in child-rearing, on staff at a famous medical center, says, “We have come to the realization that a parent’s role is to show youngsters discipline. At the point a child gets proactive, the parent should know that the child is looking for a LIMIT – a BOUNDARY. And the parent had better provide that limit. The child will be reassured for having limits set. They need limits clearly spelled out; it’s the only way to learn.”

Thousands of teens are alienated from their homes and are suffering from a lack of clearly set standards of moral behavior. Thus not only their own lives are endangered, but entire families and communities are being threatened. This from a recent issue of a well-known news magazine.

In a recent reunion of young adults at the Inn, God used a brother as he shared, to set the tone for the entire weekend – for HIS Word for the entire gathering. This man said, “The main thing God is showing me, is that He has set some clear boundaries in particular areas of my life, within which I am to operate. I find that if I get beyond those limits, I cannot mature. But within those boundaries, God is able to establish me in my role as a man of God.” He used the example of a financial boundary – the salary he earned. “Writing checks beyond the total income causes all sorts of trouble, not only affecting me, but also causing difficulties for other people.”

Our grand-daughter has just learned to pull herself up to a standing position. Pretty soon she will be walking, so her parents must keep her confined to a play-pen or keep a constant watch over her. Left to her own freedom she would be exposed to many dangers about which she knows nothing yet. There will come a time when she can be taught about these things, but it would be premature for her to be “set free” now. God knew what He was doing when he made us to be totally dependent at birth. We must have boundary-setters, otherwise we will never make it to maturity. So He gave us to parents who are to set our boundaries, then extend them, to allow for the business of growing up. And eventually, if our parents have done their job well, then we will be able to function as a mature human being, learning to set our own boundaries.

From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Number 20, March 1982.

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