Windy Hager's mom may be right in saying that the young girl has thrown her life away. But if that's the case, Windy appears to have had help. When her parents had the chance and the responsibility to draw a line in the sand, they didn't do it. Instead, they signed the consent form allowing their daughter to marry a man two-and-a-half times her age. In my eyes, that makes them accomplices to Windy throwing her life away!
The relationship between Windy and her coach, Brenton Wuchae, had troubled Dennis and Betty Hager for several years. But attempts made by the parents to put an end to the illegal and clearly immoral relationship were unsuccessful.
Instead of redoubling their efforts to bring their daughter to her senses or protect her from a predatory coach though, the parents just gave up. Dennis explains pathetically: "Signing those consent forms was the hardest thing I did in my whole life, but we had to move on, it was going to kill us all."
That explanation is suspiciously similar to ones given by the parents of kids who've fallen into drug addiction, who say, "It was just too painful to see him or her going through DTs. So, I gave him or her the money to buy their drugs."
Or, "We decided to let her or him have the party with alcohol here rather than at someone else's house."
Or, "All the other sixteen year olds were going to Florida for spring break. We think it's wrong. But we can't let our kid be the only one stuck at home."
In each of these instances, as in the case of Dennis and Betty Hager, parents abdicate their jobs as parents. They willingly subject their children to risk, danger, heartache, and pain because they don't want to deal with ongoing confrontations or anger from their children. They exchange their kids' well-being for freedom from parental responsibility.
The Hagers may think that they've consented to their daughter's marriage out of love. Or maybe they think that by acquiescing to Windy's desire to marry Wuchae, they're removing a bone of contention between them and that they can now have a positive relationship with their daughter. If either of these thoughts informed their decision, they were being shortsighted.
As I see it, expressions of parental love come in two forms:
- First is unconditional acceptance and affirmation of a child's personhood. This springs directly from God's self-disclosure in Jesus Christ. God loves every human being. Parents are to reflect the God-given value of their kids.
- Second is discipline, a refusal to accept behaviors that harm people, including the child. This too, reflects God's self-disclosure. According to the Bible, God is righteous, above all valuing human behaviors that reflect love and respect for God, for others, and for the minds and bodies God has given each of us.
Yet, parents who truly love their children will say, "No" to destructive desires or habits of their kids.
- "No, you can't have a second candy bar."
- "No, you can't stay up until eleven o'clock on a school night."
- "No, you can't have beer at the party."
- "No, you can't go to Florida just because all the other parents at school are silly enough to permit their children to do so."
By most measures, a teen under the age of eighteen is a minor and still very much an adolescent. Dazzled by the promises of adult freedom so within their reach and twitterpated by hormones, adolescents are prone to making lousy choices, which loving parents must prevent them from making, if possible.
Parents who accede to their teens' irrational requests--such as wanting to marry someone twenty-four years older than them, whether to avoid conflict, to gain poplualrity, or because of a perverted notion of what love is all about, are really throwing their kids' lives over a cliff. And it's a shame!
[THANKS TO: The Big Lead for alerting me to this story.]