This week I am teaching Vacation Bible School (VBS). The theme is Auto Racing. Every day we use something out of auto racing to illustrate the lesson. In today’s lesson, I was to compare the celebration of a winning team to a worship service. The teacher’s book was very helpful in setting up the comparison.
As I was teaching the Red Team (kindergarden through 2nd grade), we discussed how racing teams work to get everyone into the competitive spirit, and how the team has to work together to produce a winner. Then I said, “If we were on a racing team and won, how would we celebrate?”
An 8 year old boy immediately said, “Hold a big drug party.” I thought he was pulling my leg. Even at 8 years old, he knows that drug use is not approved of by our church. I repeated the question and he repeated the same answer. In his young mind, drugs are linked to celebrations.
The comment rocked me on my heals because I know the boy’s father and stepmother. They are active in the church. I am pretty sure they do not use drugs.
After VBS, I asked some questions. The boy is under joint custody. Half the time he is with his biological mother, who does not share the same moral standards as his biological father. Apparently Mom does party and uses drugs.
So where does an 8 year old get the idea that one needs to use drugs in order to celebrate? In this case, he may be learning by example from his mother that one must get high in order to have a good celebration. Hopefully his father’s influence will make him think twice before taking that first hit of drugs.
No wonder drug use is a serious problem in many of our schools. Some of the children are learning at home that drug use is acceptable. This story illustrates how some even are learning to consider drug use to be a normal part of celebrations.
Of course, not all students come from homes that are part of the drug culture. When this boy said we should celebrate with a drug party, I suspected he was being influenced by stories that the news media tells about movie stars and performers, many of whom brag about parting heavily and being on drugs. Thus even those children from homes where parents are trying to teach good moral behavior, are being exposed to stories of the drug culture.
Keep in mind that school children are under great pressure to fit in with their peers. For many, this means they want to conform with the group so they will be accepted. If I were still the parent of a school age children, the last thing I would want would be for them to have a classmate expressing the opinion that a drug party is a good way to celebrate.
As an adult, I am opposed to drug use. Other adults seem to think it is acceptable behavior even to the point of urging legalization, and there are those adults who are active drug users. As adults, however, we need to be aware that our children are copying our behavior and accepting our attitudes. If we, as a society, are serious about waging war against drug use, we must be careful what message we let our children pick up from our lifestyles.
So those of us who oppose drug use are sending a constructive message to youth. Those who approve of drug use are also sending a message that is at least consistent with their moral outlook. What about those adults who approve of drug use by adults, but think children should avoid drugs? What message are they sending?
It is time for society to recognize that drug use has its harmful side. We certainly do not want to see unrestricted drug use with the accidents and crime that result. I do not want to have workers on the job under the influence of a drug. I certainly do not want to have minds crippled when mind altering drugs damage them.
Thus it is good that our society is waging a war on drug use. The problem is that many adults, parents in particular, are living life styles that teach children that drug use is a “normal” part of life. What good does it do to teach children to stay off of drugs, when other adults are inadvertently promoting drug use.
If you oppose drug use, make your message clear. Make sure your children understand that drug use is not acceptable even if their favorite rock star is often seen high in public. If you are a drug user, make very sure your use of drugs does not send a message to children that drugs are what one is supposed to do to celebrate or to escape the reality of life. Your children and others are watching you and copying you.
All installments of Life on the Left Side of the Fast Lane were written a long time ago, but they are not in a format suitable for copying onto this blog. Thus once I have revised the formatting, I will be posting the next installment. Hopefully the next installment will be posted in a few days time.