Solomon’s first demonstration of God’s wisdom in him was in deciding a child custody suit. The two women brought a healthy, living son, each claiming to be the mother. Solomon’s solution? Divide the child in half and give each woman a portion.
Did Solomon actually think that killing the child for the sake of giving each woman an equal portion was justice? Of course not. He knew that the true mother would make the tough decision necessary to save the child alive and do right by the child regardless of the personal sacrifice required. The woman that said, “No, save the child, I give it to the other woman,” was the true mother.
Sacrifice is required to do right by our children, and the parent or caregiver who is willing to make sacrifices for the sake of their children is the one who deserves to have those children. This kind of sacrifice occurs too often today as relatives accept custody and responsibility for children they did not give birth to and never intended to raise, in order to save them from being “divided” by the system. Parents who raise children with behavioral, developmental, and mental health disorders also make hard choices everyday. These caregivers are doing justice by their children.
Luke 7:35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.
It is easy to forget why we sacrifice to do right by our children especially when times get tough and the cares and wrongs of the past come to the surface as bad behavior, disciplinary problems, temper tantrums, depression, anxiety, or regressive behavior. We get scared to death to find out our children try drugs or alcohol, self-mutilation, sexual behavior, fighting, threatening, or stealing as ways to try to get by. But we have to remember that that child is not yet what he is to become. Remember the following:
1. Every individual, group, family, and community has strengths (even yours!)
2. Trauma and abuse, illness and struggle, may be injurious, but they may also be sources of challenge and opportunity.
3. Assume that you do not know the upper limits of the capacity to grow and change. Take aspirations seriously.
4. We best serve our children by working with them.
5. Every environment is full of resources.
(From the principles of Dennis Saleeby’s Strengths Perspective from the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare webpage, http://www.socwel.ku.edu/strengths/about/principles.shtml ).
Remembering these principles as we look at our children will help us remember why we do what we do for them. It will guide us to see the possibilities and to put them on the arc of development, rather than on the spiral of decline.
Even if we do not always have a crystal-clear picture of what our children are to become, we can be assured that our example in caring, encouraging, and modeling right living will pay off in the end. The wisdom of your sacrifice will be justified in your children in time.
(From a talk I gave to a group of relative caregivers in Madison County on October 7th, 2010.)