The S.H. U. Factor: Teaching Our Children Well

To deal with the most violent and incorrigible inmates in our nation’s prisons, the Department of Corrections has created the Security Housing Unit (S.H.U.). The SHU is an isolation program for prisoners, locking them up in small cells 23 to 24 hours a day for years at a time, under conditions that cause many to experience physical and psychiatric problems. These are the one’s who just haven’t been able to understand that murder, slinging dope, and preying upon the weak is unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated. When looking at their booking photo and reviewing their criminal records, it may be difficult for society to see the human side of these individuals. But like you and I, they too experienced a childhood, perhaps playing little league baseball, or experiencing the cool refreshing water of the community swimming pool on a hot summer day and the joyful excitement as they and their young friends journeyed through the bustling streets of the city to get home. What went wrong and in what way has family, our educational system and society in general failed these individuals?

Prov. 1:8 “Hear, my son (daughter) your father’s instruction. And do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”

Now the question that we must ask ourselves is this, as a Father what are my actions instructing my children and mother what are your actions teaching them? We live in a very unstable society where more than half of all children have witnessed the insanity of their parents divorce. Sadly the only winners in these situations are the lawyers, who spend your hard earned money on a vacation to some far off land. Whether one is a divorced, single or married parent, our duty nevertheless is to create a Godly, healthy and loving environment for our kids.

For one reason or another so many decent parents lack the basic knowledge and skills to guide their children through those critical years when one’s body, mind and soul are being developed or destroyed.

As my own children are now traveling through their adolescent years, I’ve devised my own basic strategy using the ABC’s; you can’t get more basic than that!

1. Be AWARE of changes in your children’s social behavior (friends), his/her grades and school attendance.

2. BECOME active in their lives – Our kids don’t need a pair of over the hill wanna be hip parents. No!What they do need are loving and responsible adult parents. If my memory serves me right, as a teenager it was at the homes of these self centered hip parents that many of my generation first experimented with sex, drugs and alcohol.

3. Break the CYCLE & learn to COMMUNICATE – Now if we can muster up the courage to face reality, let’s take a good hard look at the trail that we have left behind in our lives. Do we see a trail of healthy life long relationships, and well nurtured children? Or is it filled with broken adult children of dysfunctional parents who have and continue to make wrong choices? Many times as we thoroughly examine (not live in) our past, we find the remnants of our own scattered hearts and dreams. NOW is a good time to find healing and restoration. If you never experienced the love of a caring parent as a child, then don’t inflict your child with those same life long wounds.

One of the most repulsive acts of injustice is witnessing toxic divorced parents use the children as a weapon against their ex-spouse. If you are contemplating this course of action, please understand this, if you follow through with your diabolic scheme, you will not only destroy your children emotionally, but also spiritually. For God’s instruction to our youth is this “Children, obey your parents in the Lord (Godly direction), for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER ((Which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH (Eph. 6:1-3).” By turning your children against the other parent you have just taught your innocent child to break Gods law. Any normal parent desires for a long and prosperous life for their children. So don’t rob them of God’s promises! Gods warning to Mr. and Mrs. Dumb and Dummer is this “It would be better for him (her – writer’s insert) if a millstone were hung around his(her) neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he (her) would cause one of these little ones to stumble (Luke 17: 1-2).” What do you think would happen if you would tell your ex-spouse that you have forgiven them and that you loved them with the Love of Christ? Well you may never know, if you never try.

To COMMUNICATE is get in touch (hands on) by letter (e-mail) or verbally. When it comes to your Childs education you must take a hands on approach, remember no one loves or is as concerned for your son or daughter’s welfare than YOU as a parent. If your child is struggling in some area, work with the school to find a solution.

Communicate with their teachers, if that doesn’t work, communicate with counselors, if that fails, communicate with the principal, now if the problem is still not resolved present this issue at the next Board of Education meeting (the options are endless). The key word to remember is COMMUNICATE- COMMUNICATE – COMMUNICATE!

Now, to the parents who refuse to live up to their God given responsibility, may you never have the audacity to point your dirty little finger at the drug addicted parent or even the street walker, because the only difference between you and them is that they are failing their children while under the influence and you are doing it sober!


James 3:1 “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter (greater condemnation) judgment.”

Are you DEDICATED and EXCELLING in your field?

I understand perfectly well that we as individuals are accountable for our own conduct in life. Please know that my motive is not to lay a guilt trip on anyone, to the contrary, my heartfelt desire is to somehow motivate individuals who have CHOSEN FOR THEMSELVES to become parents, teachers, counselors, doctors and anyone in authority to excel in their field of expertise. Hopefully ones choice was not based solely on a decent paycheck, but that the foundation of your decision was and continues to be a sincere passion for the community that you have been given the privilege to serve and to adequately equip a whole new innocent, sponge like generation to succeed in an imperfect and always challenging world. May we all live up to the title that we proudly placed before or after our names, and let us learn from the following Words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more (Luke 12:48b.”)

One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned over the years is this “People don’t care how much you know – but rather they want to know how much you care”

My friends, I’ll never forget the day, when I received a letter from an old acquaintance who was being housed in the S.H.U. program at one of the many California prisons. His letter stated that he had rededicated his life to the Lord Jesus Christ, and over a matter of time he informed me of his desire to return to the prisons general population. He asked me if I would write the warden a letter of recommendation on his behalf. I agreed, and in that letter I acknowledged the fact that I had lost contact with the inmate for over 25 years, and he certainly knew more of his present character than I.

But, what I could vouch for was the God that this man had submitted his life to. I was confident of this fact, which was “that what the Lord Jesus Christ did for me, He could do for him!” It didn’t happen over night, but he eventually was released into the general population of another facility. Prison mentality would suggest that he was weak, but to the contrary, he made a mature and wise decision and it will truly take Godly strength to live for Jesus Christ in an ocean full of violence and sin.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen (Eph.3:20, 21.”)

May the Lord continue to bless and thank you once again for allowing me to share my experience, strength and hope with you.

Your friend always on the journey

Rev. Joe A. Rivera

Pressing on Faith Ministries
Temecula, Ca.