Tag Archives: parenting

Debt Makes Slaves of Those Who Owe

As I was growing up, like most children, I had a piggy bank. I learned from an early age how to save my money, putting it away for the proverbial “rainy day”. At birthdays, when my grandparents would tuck some paper money into my birthday card, I fed the piggy. Spare change, allowances, change from a treat at the dime store, a coin found on the sidewalk… I fed the piggy. From time to time, my dad would lay newspaper out on the floor, open my bank and help me count the money, then carefully, we’d sort and put the coins into paper “rolls” to be deposited into my bank account. Over time, my account passbook tally grew… with interest… and I learned an important life lesson: how to manage money.

I landed my first “real” job at fourteen years old at the corner drug store. Sure, I had earned money babysitting, mowing lawns and managing my own Kool-aid stands, like most kids, but this was a “real” job paying $1.25 an hour. I used my meager paychecks to purchase my own clothes and still managed to squirrel some into my saving account.

At seventeen, I had saved enough pennies, and nickles, and dimes and quarters… and dollars… to pay cash for my first automobile: a 1972 Buick Skylark with a 350 cubic inch engine… and I did it without emptying my account.

My parents taught me the value of a dollar. How to set goals and achieve them. They gave me the life-long gift of learning how to handle money responsibly.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.–Proverbs 22:6 (American King James Version)

As parents, we have a responsibility to teach our children how to exercise good stewardship of their money. By teaching them the principles of good money management from an early age, we can help prevent them from going astray by making poor money decisions as adults.

It’s important that we remember to set a good example for our children to follow, by managing our own finances responsibly. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to keep your head above water – especially, if you weren’t taught how to handle money, yourself.

Remember in the classic old movie, The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy closed her eyes and repeated “There’s no place like home” as she clicked the heels of her ruby slippers three times? She awoke, her problems were solved, the sun was shining, she was surrounded by her family, friends, and of course, her little dog Toto… and she was back in Kansas. You see, as Glenda told her, she had the ability to change her life all along. It’s something we all possess: free will.

We just have to stop compounding our problems and change our mindset… change our way of thinking about how we manage our money. Stop allowing yourself to be held hostage to your finances and take control. You can do it… and you don’t even need a pair of ruby slippers.

As long as you are a slave to debt, you cannot prosper.

What do I mean by that… what does it mean to be a slave to debt?

When a person is in debt, they are legally obligated to pay off that debt, plus interest. The debt owed becomes money the person no longer has any control over, so there’s a loss of freedom on the part of the debtor… plus the additional money to be paid in interest, are given to the creditor. In other words, the debtor’s productivity belongs his creditor. The debtor, in effect, will be working by the sweat of his brow for the creditor while he’s paying back the loan, but also while he’s earning the additional money to pay the interest on that loan.

The man of wealth has rule over the poor, and he who gets into debt is a servant to his creditor.–Proverbs 22:7 (Bible in Basic English)

As long as a person owes a debt, they do not actually own whatever the item may be on which they are making payments. This is what’s meant by saying a person’s wealth is on paper. Their name may be on the papers, but if they do not meet the terms of the obligation… the loan, they’ll find our very quickly exactly who owns it when the lender, who has the legal right to repossess or foreclose, does so. Basically, until the things a person is in debt for are completely paid in full, he doesn’t actually own them. This is why a person who is in debt cannot prosper… because debt stands in the way of prosperity.

Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favor my righteous cause: yes, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.–Psalm 35:27 (American King James Version)

Isn’t it great to know God takes pleasure in our prosperity?

In the secular world, prosperity is generally believed to mean having wealth, fame and prestige. We see people in the world who seemingly have insatiable appetites for riches and things. They seem to be driven by materialism, yet no mater how incredibly wealthy they become, they are never satisfied. The reality is money, riches and possessions do not make a person prosperous.

True prosperity is far more than just being successful or financially secure because it describes a state of the soul. The Biblical meaning also includes: to have joy, health, and to see progress in all we undertake… peace of mind. Ask yourself, what good is wealth, if the person is miserable? True prosperity is rooted in faith and obedience to God’s Word.

Do you remember the old Sunday school song, The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock? This is about prosperity. In the song, the foolish man built his house upon the sand and met calamity. But the obedient man built his house on the Lord Jesus Christ and he received blessings. Joy, good health, success and financial security are blessings and they are the evidence of Biblical… true prosperity.

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.–3 John 1:2 (New American Standard Bible)

Think about how your family’s life could improve if your were living debt-free and were able to set aside a nest egg to purchase your next vehicle with cash, take a special family trip… and save for your retirement. Having peace of mind in knowing when life’s unexpected calamities come knocking at your door, you will have the resources available to deal with them. How fantastic to be out from under the crushing weight of the debt burden you carry on your shoulders and drag along day by day shackled to your ankles and wrists!

Freedom! That’s the feeling of financial freedom.

Most people are shackled by debt. The lion’s share of what they earn goes to making payments and they struggle to make ends meet. If anything upsets the apple cart, they’re in trouble. The downward spiral can quickly get out of control and spill over into other areas of a person’s life. Consequently, money problems are often a contributing factor to divorce.

I’ve seen this happen to a family member. Like most people, they had a mortgage and car payments, then the husband went into debt to start a business. It takes time to get a business off the ground… more time than he expected. In order to keep things going, he relied on credit cards… maxing out several. Big mistake. The interest alone was a crushing burden.

After the divorce, it took the wife years to dig out from under her share of the debt. At one point, she was so overwhelmed by bills, she would put them into a plastic ice cream bucket, then draw one out at a time as she was able to come up with the money. Eventually, with perseverance, she succeeded, but it was not easy and it took a lot of determination and self-discipline.

What’s easy is getting into financial trouble. It’s easy… far too easy to get approved for credit – often, even if you don’t have a job or the income to justify it. We live in an impatient world where everyone wants instant gratification. Why wait? Why deny yourself that luxury you deserve? There’s simply too much “keeping up with the Jones”… which is envy. Everyone wants everything… now… which is coveting.

The temptations to buy and unwisely spend money we don’t have for things we really don’t need bombards us on a daily basis. This can lead to impulse buying, which is exactly what advertisers count on – and is why advertising is such a booming business.

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”–Luke 12:15 (New International Version)

A godly life brings huge profits to people who are content with what they have.–1 Timothy 6:6 (God’s Word Translation)

So where to start?… How does a person get out of debt?

Stay tuned. My next entry, A Roadmap to Financial Freedom, will show the way.

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Boil the Frog Slowly: Staking Claims on the Next Generation

It’s said you can boil a frog alive by simply putting it in a pot of water, then slowly turn the heat up. Incrementalism is a tactic employed to fundamentally transform our nation… our communities… our schools… and even our families, right before our eyes.

The public education industry – from most teacher colleges to teacher unions to the state departments of education to the federal Department of Education – is, without a doubt, predominantly Leftist in philosophy. Instead of teaching students to become self-sufficient, creative and competent individuals, they adhere to John Dewey’s anti-American ideal of schools instructing pupils into a “collective and cooperative mentality”, as was the educational model in Soviet Russia. John Dewey was a self-described Socialist, co-author of the Humanist Manifesto and credited as the father of Progressive Education.

Incrementalism has been employed within our public schools for several decades as a means to advance the progressive agenda of social change. Schools believe they know what’s best for children and since they are the enlightened experts parents must be conditioned to bend to their will. As schools have incrementally claimed more authority over our children, parents, for the most part, have taken the back seat… voluntarily, cooperatively and unaware of the shift.

Boil the frog slowly.

Gradually, over a span of decades, schools have consumed an ever-increasing portion of children’s lives under the guise of benevolence, socialization and well-being:  school lunch and breakfast programs, before and after school programs, preschool programs, SAGE, Lighted Schoolhouse, a wide array of extra-curricular activities, summer school, guidance counseling, sex-ed, school-based health clinics… the list goes on and on. Once a new program has a foothold, it becomes nearly impossible to get rid of it without a well-orchestrated outcry of protest arising from parents, after all, letting the school provide their children with free meals… or daycare… or advice on child-rearing… or… well, you fill-in-the-blank makes life easier for parents, so why not let the school district help out, after all, it’s for the children… right?… and it’s free, so why not take advantage of it?

Well, it’s not free. There is a price to pay:  the taxpayers pay for it… but so do the parents… and ultimately, the children… and society as a whole.

It may not, mind you, necessarily be “bad” to have some of these programs, but the ever-expanding reach of the public schools has trespassed far beyond it’s primary purpose of educating children to read and write and do arithmetic – which many schools are failing to do – and has become outright meddling and intruding upon the sacred domain of the family, where they are infringing on parental rights. We have a problem of great magnitude. Parental rights are under attack not only locally, but also from state and federal governments, by special interest groups and even internationally through efforts spearheaded by the United Nations.

And most parents are completely oblivious to this fact.

Boil the frog slowly.

A Virginia-based non-profit, PARENTALRIGHTS.org has a goal of Protecting Children by Empowering Parents. They are diligently working to achieve the addition of a Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The proposed text is as follows:

The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.

Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.

No treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.

The reference to international law is an effort to prevent the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) treaty from ever over-riding our Constitution and U.S. or state laws. Under this treaty:

  1.  Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.
  2. The best interest of the child would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent’s decision.
  3. A child’s “right to be heard” would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.
  4. According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children’s welfare.
  5. Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure.
  6. Christian schools that refuse to teach “alternative worldviews” and teach that Christianity is the only true religion “fly in the face of article 29” of the treaty.
  7. Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.
  8. Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions, without parental knowledge or consent.
  9. Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.
  10. A murderer aged 17 years and 11 months and 29 days at the time of his crime could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.

How can we help protect parental rights? We can all help by raising awareness on the issue and by contacting our U.S. Representatives and Senators, asking them to support the Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Wisconsin Family Action supports this effort and can be contacted on this or any family, life or liberty issue here, in Wisconsin.

Parental rights are also at stake each time your local school board agrees to participate in a state or federal program because when they vote to sign the contract, they are, in effect, exchanging an additional measure of control over decision making and pupil privacy for dollars. Too often, the “carrot” is enough for administrators and school boards to eagerly hop on board – without understanding the consequences or even reading the documents. In reality, the money offered is rarely enough to actually cover the costs, so taxpayers pay more. And so, we often hear school boards and administrators complain about “unfunded mandates”.

As President Ronald Reagan so brilliantly described it:

“We developed at the local school district level probably the best public school system in the world. Or it was until the Federal government added Federal interference to Federal financial aid and eroded educational quality in the process.”

A case in point is the federal “Race to the Top” program, most recent in a litany of government initiated so-called “education reforms”, where states compete against each other to be awarded funding in exchange for contracts granting the federal government more control over local school operational decisions.

To most school boards and administrators – as well as state legislators and governors, eager to increase district funding and who are easily swayed by the hype, the carrot on the stick was enough to get them to sign on the dotted line. The terms of the binding MOU were vague and did not explain exactly what would be required of school districts, nor did it contain a specified end date. In effect, school boards and administrators were signing a blank contract.

Through my research, it became apparent the money being offered would not begin to cover the costs – and far worse, was the loss of privacy and control inherent with the program.

One of the mandates under Race to the Top, demands each student and teacher be “profiled”. Tell me, why is it OK to profile our children and teachers – but not terrorists?

Fortunately, Wisconsin did not make the cut last year in the “Race to the Top”. However, it’s expected  there will be another round beginning soon, this time targeted at our very youngest children. Pray we may be so lucky as to dodge the bullet again and that Congress will finally take a stand and stop the insane spending.

Many efforts to erode parental authority are not accompanied with the fanfare of a federal program promising the pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow. They occur quietly, where you least suspect it. This is why it is vitally important for parents to be involved with their children’s education.

How often, do parents of children attending public schools, relinquish their rights to teachers, school administrators, school psychologists or guidance counselors because they are viewed as the “experts”? Maybe, just maybe the parent lacks the self-confidence to challenge them? Or, perhaps, parents simply trust them to do the right thing and it never occurs to them to suspect otherwise? Ask yourself, are you so sure the school agrees with your personal set of values and morals? Sometimes, parents are afraid to speak up because they don’t want to rock the boat… they feel intimidated… they don’t want to be singled out – or risk their child suffering some sort of repercussion – whether it originates from the school itself or peers? If so, that’s a cop out. Regardless of the reasoning or situation, often, when parents allow schools to call the shots, it is without even being aware they are sacrificing their own children to the system.

Even though a parent may have objections or reservations, if they do not speak up, they are, by default, allowing the school to seize more decision-making power and little by little assume a defacto parental role in the child’s life as they marginalize parents.

Boil the frog slowly.

To the parents, consider this carefully:  Are you a passive or proactive parent?

Before signing any document, do you take the time to actually read it and make sure you understand what it is you may be granting permission? Don’t be afraid to call the school and ask, if you are not sure. And by all means, don’t be afraid to say “No”.

My advice to parents? Listen to that voice inside. Trust your gut instincts. After all, you are the expert when it comes to YOUR child, not the school, and, most importantly, your child depends on you to stand up for them by making decisions which are in their best interest while reflecting your own family values and moral beliefs.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions or lodge complaints, if necessary. If there’s a problem, discuss it with the teacher. If the issue is not resolved, take it up the chain of command:  to the principal… then the superintendent… and your school board. After all, you elect them to represent you. It’s part of the job.

I’m here to tell parents be empowered. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your child, your family values, because it’s your duty… your responsibility… your right as a parent. Don’t let anyone discourage or prevent you from exercising good judgement and your God-given parental authority… ever.

In closing, I’d like to quote wise words from President Ronald Reagan:

“There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”


A Commitment Phobic Generation

Choices are a part of life. They can be good or bad. Important or incidental. But when a “choice” becomes a failure of committing to a child or spouse, selfishness rules. Commitment phobia demonstrates a lack of personal responsibility.

In 2008, the CDC reports 41% of all births were to unmarried mothers, up from 34% in 2002 and more than double the rate of 18.4% in 1980. In Norway, Sweden and Iceland unmarried mothers already account for the majority of births at 54%, 55% and 66%, respectively (per 2007 CDC stats). If the US trend continues, it won’t be long before births to single mothers out-paces births to married couples.

As a strong supporter of LIFE, I applaud and am thrilled to see these unmarried women choosing to give their babies LIFE. However, the flip side of the coin is a concern over the lack of commitment to marriage these numbers represent along with the demise of the traditional nuclear family model.

One-in-two marriages end in divorce. So perhaps the escalating rate of unmarried mothers may be related. Having come from a failed marriage, herself – or growing up in a broken home may be a contributing factor. As can the undeniable fallout from the sexual revolution, going back to the 1960s.

It’s difficult enough raising children in a traditional, two-parent home. I commend single parents who are doing a good job. But I’m also worried by the increasing role government is taking in raising children, under the guise of “helping parents”.

In dog training, when the owner feeds the dog, he or she is clearly sending the message of being the alpha… the boss… the parent figure.

When schools feed students, they assume a parental role in the minds of these children. For years, public schools have been providing children with breakfasts, lunches, snacks and sometimes even suppers or meals during summer school… a responsibility which used to be entirely that of the parents. It’s one thing if there is a true need to lend a helping hand, but now there’s talk of the government providing school meals to all children, regardless of their parents’ financial status.

Many schools are intruding into the family unit to the point of “teaching” parents how to raise their own children. Why do parents accept this kind of interference?

Some public school districts operate day care programs, preschools, after school programs and even “birth to three year old” programs. It’s getting to the point where children are spending more time each school day away from home than with their own families.

I find this disturbing. Have commitment phobic parents and the “it takes a village” mentality opened the door to allowing the government to raise this generation of children? Absolutely.