Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when parents influence their children for good. It goes without saying that the exact opposite is also true. Parents carry a great responsibility to teach their children correct behavior by precept and example. If parents are good people, they will usually have children who are good people – and vice versa. There are of course exceptions to this rule: The very best parent – Heavenly Father – lost a third part of all His spirit children. If parents are living good lives and doing all they can to teach their children proper behavior and their children choose the dark side, the fault does not lie with the parents.
Michael Brown, a young black man who once lived in Ferguson, Missouri, has been in the news – a lot – during the past few months. This man – often called a teenager and sometimes called a “gentle giant” robbed a local store and then picked a fight with Darrin Wilson, a white policeman, instead of moving over to the sidewalk as he was asked or told. Fearing for his life, Wilson shot Brown in a case that a grand jury decided a “no bill” or not to indict Wilson. Riots and then unrest took place in the Ferguson area for the past four months. After the grand jury decision was announced, rioters again took over Ferguson. Buildings were burned, stores were ransacked, and cop cars were destroyed. Protests took place from coast to coast.
The question is why did this eighteen-year-old man – legally considered an adult – behave as he did? Was he taught better behavior and went against his parents’ guidance or was there improper teaching taking place by precept or example?
Breitbart.com reported that Brown’s mother and stepfather “are under investigation in Ferguson, Missouri, for an alleged late October violent incident with other Brown family members, a fight that erupted over `Justice For Mike Brown’ merchandise.
“`The probe of the October 18 attack remains an “active investigation,” according to Stephanie Karr, city attorney in Ferguson, Missouri….’”
Blogger M. Catherine Evans claims that Brown’s parents were not good influences. “Take a listen to Mama McSpadden and Michael Brown’s convicted felon stepdad, Louis Head. Yes, the same pair, along with twenty others who allegedly tried to crack a few skulls after they caught granny and a cousin selling Michael Brown merchandise in Ferguson a month ago. Both could be charged with felony assault for that little temper tantrum.
“McSpadden and Head are two peas living in one messed up pod. Imagine little Michael trying to grow up with a mom who’s got a foul mouth and likes to hang with felons. Head was recently paroled on federal firearms charges related to the manufacture, sale, and distribution of narcotics. Head’s also a former Bloods gang leader out of St. Louis.
“Michael Brown, Sr. is somebody else who’s culpable. The dead 18-year-old’s real father moved on to another baby mama after McSpadden. What kind of values did he instill in a guy who walked into a convenience store, took what he wanted, and proceeded to rough up an innocent clerk?”
There may also be charges against Brown’s parents for igniting a rioting as they were apparently on the scene encouraging the destruction of private property. Head allegedly ordered someone to “burn” something down.
Contrast Michael Brown and his parents with 21-year-old Alan Williams, an outstanding black basketball player at University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). Williams and his parents were in Alaska for the Great Alaska Shootout, and all of them made the newspaper.
Coach Bob Williams claims that his star player is “not only the best player in this league, he’s one of the best players in the region....” He said that Williams is the unquestioned leader of the team. “He does everything. He’s the vocal leader; he takes responsibility on his own shoulders. `Big Al’ is a great example of what a college athlete should be.”
Coach Williams added, “He’s a fun-loving guy, big personality, he likes laughing, he likes joking, he loves being around his teammates. He’s just a regular guy around his teammates, but when he gets on the floor he’s a leader.”
Williams is not only outstanding on the basketball floor, but he excels in the classroom. He was an honor roll student at his high school and chose Santa Barbara for its academics. Santa Barbara boasts six Nobel laureates on its faculty. William’s said, “UCSB’s academic pedigree is second to none when it comes to public universities in the United States.” Hoping to play pro basketball after college, Williams wants to eventually become a broadcaster. He is fluent in Spanish and does not “get in a lot of trouble.”
Who are his parents? He is the “son of two of the Phoenix area’s most prominent law enforcement professionals. His mom, Jeri, was the highest ranking African-American woman in Arizona law enforcement before becoming both the first black and first female chief of police for Oxnard, California, in 2011. His father, Cody, is a justice of the peace in Phoenix where he also served eight years on the city council.”
According to Chief Williams, she and her husband “tried to instill a strong sense of right and wrong in their two sons” and taught their sons to understand “the dynamics of consequences” by “always [giving] them choices.” According to Judge Williams, they also taught their sons to work hard; they insisted that their son completed his work before playing basketball. They always “had high expectations for him in the classroom and to be a better person…. We were blessed that he was athletically gifted as well.”
The two black young men had vastly different upbringing. One set of parents buried their son because he made stupid choices; another set of parents speak about how “blessed” they are that their son is “a kind person.”
What made the difference? Why did one black family rear a thug while the other black family reared a kind son who is preparing to take his proper place in the world? It cannot be the color of their skin! As we can see from these two stark examples, parental influence is very important. With good influence, parents can strengthen their families, communities, and nations.