Wednesday, October 17, 2007

When is 'a second chance' no chance at all?

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I suspect many a parent is able to recall in minute detail the particulars of the "one more chance" request rendered by a child. Sometimes, just in the recalling, the parent is forced to hold back the urge to laugh uncontrollably - these requests are sometimes very funny. Other times they're just plain pathetic.

There are those who would say that a "Please mom [or dad] ... just one more chance ... please." coming from your child really translates into something more like, "Well, you let me get away with this before ... what's the uproar about this time? It's no different." And why shouldn't the child think that? After all, we've never cracked down yet.

The drunk driver who has never had to do 'hard time' will seldom learn to stop drinking and driving. After all, how many times has he / she NOT been caught? And even when caught, they get off with a wrist-slap [after all, our jails are full of real criminals].

The teen-ager who has been stealing candy bars and soft drinks from the carry-out for years, and who has been caught several times, and made to pay-up, has never had to stand before the judge.

The issue is one of helping me get off the hook, or helping me learn to be better ... more responsible ... accountable for my actions. I'm grateful God doesn't use my daily misbehavior as a reason to make my life miserable. Does He forgive too much?

My seat before his bench will come someday, and, even in His great mercy, He'll finally say to me, "Son, it's time to pay the piper. I gave you a gazillion chances, and you still mocked me and turned your back on me. I kept waiting for you to turn around and tell me you were sorry - you just couldn't find it in yourself to do that, could you. Too, bad ... I had a nice mansion lined up for you - but not to be! No more chances."

Don't we owe it to our children to stop the bad behavior now? To help them form good habits and good patterns of behavior before they are so ensnared by the bad that they cannot even see the good? Too much of a good thing can have serious consequences and be deadly.

Even as much, don't we owe it to each other? If I'm continually granting 'a second chance', don't I need to look closely and see that it is warranted? Mercy is wonderful - enabling bad behavior is a whole other issue.
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3 comments:

Miss Emily said...

Point well taken.

But pick your battles. Not everything is worth fighting. That's one important thing I've learned. For example, now that i know not to wear completely inappropriate things out of the house (although I suppose that is subjective), the occasional grumble I get from my father is just that, and not a lecture, cause he knows I have the basic idea, and now they just get on me for important issues. I don't remember it from being a kid, but I do know that my mom tells me often that it's so important to choose your battles carefully.

Leave it to me to be contrary, right? :) Good thoughts though. I don't like people to enable.

uncle jim said...

Em,
I agree ... some battles are more important than others. Some can be put-off for a while, some can be written-off all together, and some need to be addressed.
Contrary? That's a subjective point of view I think.

uncle jim said...

Hey, Em ... how about a story?