I was told of a news report about a very dumb criminal in Fort Worth, Texas. Apparently, the guy rode his bicycle up to a taco restaurant carryout window, pulled a gun, and ordered the clerk to give him their money. That's dumb -- but hold on, it gets worse.

He ordered a meal while he was waiting for the money. Well, the money came out before his meal was ready. And, believe it or not, this Einstein hung around waiting for his food. In the meantime, one of the employees was calling the police. Since our biker hoodlum had also forgotten to wear a mask, they recognized him as an ex-employee of the restaurant and gave his name to the police. The law arrived before his meal did and they arrested him right there at the drive-up window! To make matters worse, he proceeded to aim his gun at the police who pulled their weapons and shot him twice. (Fortunately, the wounds weren't life threatening.) On closer examination, it turned out that he was carrying a toy pistol.

As I thought about this incident, one phrase seemed to sum this guy up: Dumb, but fearless.

Is There A Similar Situation In Your Home?

If you're a parent, that phrase may have occurred to you several times over the years. I know it pretty well describes some of the experiences we have had with our kids. I can still remember the time when our son Joshua was peeved with me because I refused to believe his assertion that he was mature enough to be trusted with my car. Call me an old fogy -- but the kid was just 4 years old!

Actually, it's part of what makes a kid a kid -- more bravado than common sense. By their very nature, children are immature. They believe themselves to be far more intelligent than the facts would warrant. And, to make matters worse, there's that time somewhere between 12 and 14 when most kids go through a season of omniscience.

That's where parents come in. Unlike animals that desert their young (or, sometimes eat them) God gave human parents a greater mandate. For better or worse, it's our dubious job description to stick around for the first 18 to 20 years. And, if we're any good at the job, we'll do more than simply be there. We'll aim higher. Our goal is to be our children's mentors and key advisors. We're the ones they should come to for their life-skill advice. Sure, I know that that is a unique idea these days. What with all the buffoon parents on TV sitcoms and the disrespect dished out by society in general, it's tough to maintain credibility through the full 20-year run. But just because it isn't easy doesn't mean it isn't vital.

Many of society's ills can be laid at the feet of parents who have abrogated their responsibilities. That's why I want to challenge you as a parent (especially if your kids are still young) to love them enough to direct and discipline them in all areas of their lives. Stay involved. Don't be shy. Don't be marginalized or intimidated away from your God-ordained responsibility. Just because some other 8-year-old philosopher teases your child about your involvement in his life -- don't back off. Insist that your beliefs and ideas be respected, honored, and followed. It is your duty, not only to your children but to society as a whole, to teach them about Jesus, basic morality, respect, and the appropriate life-skills.

Insulation vs. Isolation In An Age of Affluence

America is the Disneyland of the world. Kids in this country are blessed with a level of affluence that is unknown throughout most of the world. Even those of us who grew up only a generation ago can barely comprehend many of the things today's culture takes for granted. According to the American Express Retail Index, parents and teens spent an average of $550 per child on back-to-school shopping. Teenage Research Unlimited reports that teenagers are spending an average of $84 per week of their own and their parents' money. Wealth in America grew exponentially in the last decade. The Spectrum Group reports that high net-worth households (those with assets of at least $1 million, not counting their primary residence) exploded from 1.8 million in 1990 to 7.2 million by 1999! Today, more than half of all American millionaires are under 55- years old, compared with only 26% a few years ago.