One of the best ideas in the composition of the screenplay for The Wizard of Oz was who played Dorothy's companions in the foreign and strange land of Oz. Not only were they faithful, protective and helpful but they also were people she already knew! The great revelation at the end of the story is that the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion were a dream-like version of her family's friends and therefore her friends as well. This was genius on the part of the writer. This was also inspiration to another writer.
Proverbs tells us not to forsake our father's friends. Here at the Highlands Study Center, that is one of the important roles we play, that of the parents' friends. We believe so strongly in the role of parents that we would not want anything to undermine anyone's loyalty or respect for his or her father or mother. We are fulfilling a true community value and that is being another source of knowledge and wisdom.
Intrinsic in our humanness is the need for many counselors. If parents were to do it all alone then God would not have given pastors to the church to teach, elders to the church to govern, and older women to the church to teach the younger, not to mention, the prophets, judges, and evangelists. As children mature to young adulthood they will begin to gravitate toward other persons, in addition to their parents, for advice, counsel, and general knowledge. This should not be threatening or painful to the parents. Instead, parents should expect this to happen and do all they can to cultivate their friendships with other to the deepest levels to provide their posterity with a wealth of future counselors, teachers, and protectors.
Given this truth of human nature there are some steps that we should follow to insure that our kids sit, walk and stand with honorable persons rather than learn mistruths regarding life from rock & roll philosophers, mall-walking theologians, and tabloid TV advice counselors. First, superficiality must die. One great virtue of the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion was they were painfully honest with Dorothy and each other. Lack of disclosure leaves us in the state of pretend. We are left with our facades and our fears. We remain suspended in ignorance, immobile in love and disrespected by others. But once we determine to become real with one another we draw out the strengths and help purge out the weaknesses of our constituency. The result is a strong bond and loyalty among comrades committed to helping each other, and each other's children, along the way.
Spending time together as families is very important. Children need to witness the love and respect and enjoyment that Dad and Mom have with their adult friends. They will watch the interaction and listen to the content of the conversations and note the humor and read the countenances and expressions on each face. They will subconsciously begin to choose their future advisors. This is marvelous, is it not!? Much better than always segregating the kids from the adults. Or the children remembering the only quality time their parents ever had with other adults was being mesmerized by the TV.
There also must be time for your friends to talk to your children. Nothing mechanical mind you, just planned time spent together as families that afford plenty of opportunities for short conversations with small toddlers and meaningful discussions with young adults. I have secretly left the room weeping with joy at times upon witnessing my friends interacting with my children.
As adulthood arrives, I would counsel temporarily pushing the teenagers out of the nest for seasons of interaction with trusted others. I anticipate the days that my children will spend part of the summer with missionaries that we know. I long for the day that my sons can work with my compadres (Spanish - never took it, but I did live in Texas for a while) learning their particular skills. I know that my girls will delight in visiting our friends to help in canning vegetables, caring for babies and small children, and sitting at the feet of godly older women. And you know, if I knew someone who had a study center for challenging and building a young persons' faith ... hint, hint.
In staying with our theme, can you imagine the gladness in Auntie Em's heart knowing that during Dorothy's dream world that was filled with wonder and terror, the fantastic as well as the fearful, that her companions were those close to the family? People that her guardians trusted?
Right now, my house is full of toddlers, but one day, far too soon, the house will be quieter. The water-colored ponies that adorn the refrigerator will ride away. And my children will become my adults.