A UNICEF report, just published, looks at the place and security of children in major industrial nations, and places the UK at the bottom of the league. Their research investigated how children themselves felt they were treated and valued.
As one living in Scotland, I find much to ponder and pray over. Neglect, poverty, and abuse need our urgent attention as parents and citizens, both here and worldwide.
Surface indicators suggest over-indulgence or neglect, which the report identifies as stemming from parents working longer hours to achieve security and greater financial reward.
As a result, children are often given expensive clothes or gadgets to compensate for time not spent with them. Often it seems that little quality time is given to family sharing. Spiritual values seem to be marginalized in the pursuit of material goals.
This report alerts us to returning to family values as a main building block of a successful nation. A look at the happy faces of children in what is considered to be an African "have nots" society reminds us that the wealth of those considered "haves" depends equally on being loved and appreciated.
The natural restoration of the family can be hastened through prayer as well.
Recently, I have thought much about man, including male and female, as children of God. In that sense we are all children. It is a view encouraged by Jesus, who saw each person he met as a child of God, as a member of God's family.
The importance of this view was emphasized in the Bible: "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein" (Luke 18:17).
Appreciating and cherishing the child in each of us elevates our perceptions of parent and child. We can expect wisdom, thoughtfulness, and maturity in the child as much as the adult. Youth or age do not come into the picture.
That same BBC radio broadcast that publicized the UNICEF report also ran an item two days earlier about an entrepreneur in the North of England. He had his own oil refinery in an effort to be "green." He has a warehouse where he takes in cooking oil from local shops and converts it to biodeisel fuel – producing 1,000 liters a day at present. He is just 15 years old and still in school.
The attributes of youth – eagerness, innocence, trust, and openness – belong to each of us, to each child of God. These qualities have universal currency, and when we receive them in accord with Jesus' command, they have power to replace insecurity, abuse, and neglect.
The child of God receives the care and love that pour from the divine Parent. God is both Father and Mother, so every child is fathered and mothered. Above all, the child of God feels loved and responds accordingly. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, wrote, "Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 332).
This view of man as God's child first of all changes us. Until we begin to cherish the Christ view of the child in ourselves, we may not get far in raising the profile in children, nationally or worldwide. But trying to cherish this child in each of us will help move the picture of the child in the UNICEF report to the top of the league.
He shall feed his flock
like a shepherd:
he shall gather the lambs
with his arm, and carry them
in his bosom, and shall gently
lead those that are with young.