(10) Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: King James Version Change your email Bible version
It is becoming more obvious that children are not being taught to respect private property. Perhaps this is a failing on the part of parents and/or a product of government schooling, which was set up in the early- to mid-1900s by socialist educators like John Dewey. Whatever the cause, children no longer recognize boundaries between, say, public roads and private yards. Back in the day, parents taught their children that a neighbor's driveway was his property, and that they should not use it unless they had a specific reason to be there and had the owner's consent. They were also taught not to use neighbors' yards as a short cut to somewhere else. It was also a given that a neighbor's yard was not to be regarded as a trash dump for their candy wrappers, drink cans, and other assorted litter, nor was it a community garden in which they could dig holes, take topsoil, and remove mulch, flowers, leaves, branches, and fruits and vegetables at their whim.
Why are so many parents not teaching their children these basic principles?
Perhaps the primary reason is that they do not consider it all that important because they themselves do not have a great deal of respect for others' possessions. In the great game called "keeping up with the Joneses," diminishing the neighbor's property increases one's own. Envy and competition, hallmarks of rabid American materialism, can cause normally good neighbors to exhibit less-than-stellar attitudes and behaviors, which children are quick to mimic.
Another reason stems from the quickening pace of life; there is just so little time anymore to pass on these necessary principles. Parents are harried from the time they awaken to the time they fall wearily back into bed at night, and much of their time in between is spent away from home, not with their kids. Many parents likely justify this neglect by saying, "Who has time to take little Johnny aside and teach him the wisdom of the ages? Aren't they supposed to be doing that at school?" But just the opposite of this latter question is true: Public schools, heavily influenced by "social studies" and liberal policies advocated by the teachers' unions, push social values that sound as if they come from the Communist Manifesto rather than the Bible, the Constitution, or the Declaration of Independence.
Yet a third reason, perhaps the most elusive to define, may be a nagging feeling among many adults that they do not really control anything, even what they supposedly own. This malaise arises from a multitude of factors present in American society: the aforementioned ubiquitous government power, oppressive personal and national debt, constant and fruitless bickering among politicians, the constant drumming of the media on bad news, increasing awareness of crime and terrorism, frequent and deadly natural disasters, the looming specter of recession or unemployment - in a word, a kind of hopelessness. Why teach Jimmy to take care of the car when the bank is just going to repossess it anyway? Why scold Sally about defacing her school locker when the government has billions of our dollars to fix things just like that? Why get all hot and bothered about passing on such values when life is worth so little and it may be snuffed out tomorrow? Too many believe that events are spinning out of control, and they are fatalistically just along for the ride.
Despite these purported reasons not to do so, teaching our children to respect the property of others is a righteous activity. The eighth commandment, "You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15), acts as the underlying principle of this responsibility, for trampling another's rights of ownership is essentially stealing from him. At its mildest, it is abrogating his privilege to say how his property is treated. At its worst, it is downright robbery.
In the Gospels, our Savior says a great deal about stewardship, the overarching concept regarding the maintenance, use, and development of property, either one's own or another's (see, for instance, Luke 12:35-39; 16:1-8; 19:12-27; also, from the apostles, I Corinthians 4:1-2; Titus 1:7; I Peter 4:10). It is our duty as Christian parents to instruct our children about proper stewardship of first our and their possessions, and then the treatment of other people's belongings. This will lay the right foundation for the more important stewardship of God's gifts and blessings that leads to great reward in His Kingdom (Matthew 24:45-47).
— Richard T. Ritenbaugh