We've all seen it before. People think some parents aren't doing a good job ____ (feeding, educating, teaching that all lifestyles are equally valid, etc) their kids so the government needs to step in.
The reactions tend to fall into one of two camps. The first says that the government has no business interfereing. The other thinks that it does, because there are some truly crappy parents out there and shouldn't we step in and help those kids, who through no fault of their own, end up with the crappy* parents.
Depends on who "we" is. If "we" is the government, then no, I don't think "we" should because 1) it isn't the government's job and 2) the government can not do a better job parenting than a parent, even a bad parent.
But if by "we" you mean, individuals, then yes. I believe as Christians we are called to help those around us and that includes the little people. Ways this could be done include**:
- The single dad in the army who keeps getting sent on TDY (short term, long distance assignments)?Have his 5 and 9 year old boys stay with you while he's gone. And while they are there, teach the 5 year old to read.
- The middle school girl struggling with her femininity because her mother isn't in her life and her dad and younger brother aren't exactly helpful when it comes to learning how to dress and act like a lady? Turn your once a week get together with another mom and girl into a "girls club," include her and teach all three girls to bake, sew, quilt and memorize scripture.
- When the young teen girl who doesn't get out much is invited to the same costume party your daughter is, but you know she doesn't have a costume or a way to get there? Say you have an extra one lying around, run around to quickly put together something that looks like something you would have had lying around, then tell her you'll pick her up when you drop of your daughter since its "sorta on the way" - even though it isn't.
- The brothers who have been attending Awana for several months but you still haven't met their parents or seen them at church? Spend some extra time going over their verses before quiz time to give them a chance to succeed and make sure they understand what they mean. When one says he wants to believe in God but can't because he wants to be a scientist when he grows up, lend him several books about science and God, even though you realize the chances of ever seeing those books again are pretty slim.
- That high school friend of your son's who always seem to hang around your house at dinner time because his parents both work and he doesn't want to go home to an empty house and a Hot Pocket? Invite him to stay for dinner - even if you had him over the last two nights.
Those aren't just random examples I thought up. Those are specific things I know my mom did, and just the ones I could think of in one evening. I'm sure there are lots more that I can't remember or was not aware of. It explains why when she died, a friend on mine from high school who could only get two days off of work drove 14 hours through the night, arrived at my house at 2 am to go to the funeral the next day, just to drive back 24 hours later. It's why people that are not one of her three biological children called her "mom."
When she died, people wanted to know where to donate money. What were her special causes? It was hard to answer because she didn't have one special cause. People were her cause. Christ was her cause. This isn't a money issue, its a people issue. Sometimes I read a book or hear a story and I want to "do something," I want to save the world. If only it were as simply as just sitting down, coming up with a plan and changing lives. Maybe it works that way some of the time but I think most people who make a difference are just open to situations and people, and are listening so when God gives them opportunities, they can take them.
*When I'm talking about crappy parents, I'm not talking about abusive or truly neglectful parents. I'm referring to those marginally crappy parents.
**I realize this makes it seem like the parents in these situations were bad parents. They weren't, they were just doing the best they could in difficult situations. Except the cases were a child was abandoned by a parent. Those parents are crap.