Many of us think of Christmas as a time for children and we enjoy how much the season delights them. Considering this, perhaps our holiday preparations should include giving our children a serious amount of attention. This is one family matter that really matters. During this Advent season, remind children of Jesus’ love for them. Remind them that Jesus came at Christmas in order to one day die and rise for them and their salvation. Remind your children – including the youth in your youth group – that you love them, care about them and want the best for them. Assure them that you are there for them and that if anything ever happens to them you are ready to listen and to help.
I recently heard the story of a middle-aged man who learned late in life that he had been a victim of sexual abuse as a child. This man repressed the memories of his abuse, but those memories often emerged to haunt his life. He didn’t feel that he could share his abuse with his family. Throughout his life, the repression became harder to maintain.
Abuse is an ugly reality: 1 of 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 14 and 1 out of 6 boys before the age of 16. 95% of all victims know their perpetrators. The median age for reported abuse is 9.9 for boys and 9.6 for girls. Only one child out of ten tells anybody when it occurs. 42% or women and 33% of men never disclose the experience to anyone. There are 39 million survivors of child sexual abuse in America today. *
This may seem a strange subject to bring up during the season of joy and peace, but the subject of child abuse knows no season. This subject is always present and has been since time began. Think about the murder of the innocents after Christ was born; an ugly, difficult chapter of the Christmas story. It just doesn’t fit the seasonal mold.
And what about the birth of Christ? Much loved. Much adored. A beautiful child! And this beloved Christ child became the victim of the ultimate abuse. He would submit to the cross. He would know pain, shame, and humiliation as He suffered on the cross and his life would be sacrificed in order that people like the man suffering with his memories of childhood abuse could know the meaning of true love.
The time you spend with your children showing them this love of Christ is the most important gift you can give. The Child born at Christmas would want it no other way.
* Statistics are from “From the Darkness to Light” web site on child abuse, www.darkness2light.org.