Welcome to my musings...

After a 3 year hiatus from blogging (too busy parenting teens to have time to write about it!), I have decided to revive my blog. I look forward to sharing my perspective on mothering as I am at the tail end of my child-raising journey. Nothing could be more beautiful, more full of joy and pain and anguish, than the divine calling of motherhood. I pray my musings will bless you on your own journey, and that you will feel encouraged and equipped!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The "Balloon Boy" Hoax

Our beloved town of Fort Collins made world-wide news this week. We were spending a peaceful afternoon at home when the phone rang. My mom was calling to ask if we were watching the news, as there was a breaking story involving a family from our town. We quickly tuned in to hear that an experimental balloon-type aircraft had been accidentally released from a home in Fort Collins, and that the family’s six-year-old son was believed to be on board. The aircraft traveled about 50 miles from their home, and was believed to be capable of reaching 10,000 feet of altitude. We watched with anxious hearts throughout the afternoon as rescuers tried to find a way to reach the balloon and save the boy. We prayed continually and fervently for this child’s safety, and for the parents who were undergoing such a traumatic event. Several hours later, the balloon deflated and landed in a field. When rescuers cut open the aircraft, no boy was found. Our hearts fell as they speculated on when and if the boy could have fallen out of the craft, or if he could possibly have escaped alive. My mother’s heart was stricken at the thought of this family losing their youngest son in such a terrible way. I couldn’t escape the images in my mind of this poor little boy falling from a great altitude to his death, especially after a news report claimed that someone had seen something falling from the craft.

Some time later that afternoon, the local sheriff announced that the boy had been found, safe and sound, hiding in the family’s attic. The media immediately pounced, asking the sheriff if this had been a hoax. Stories began circulating about this family, and about their previous media experiences. Clips were shown of this family participating in a TV reality show called “Wife Swap”, showing their children as ill-behaved and rambunctious. It was released that 911 calls had been previously made from this home involving domestic disturbances. Tales were told of this family’s “storm-chasing” experiences, and how they had taken their children directly into the path of danger.

At first I felt angry at the media for attacking this family without any proof of wrong-doing. The relief was so strong that this child was unharmed that I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) believe this family would put people through such an experience. As more time went on, however, it came out that this was indeed an elaborate hoax, staged by the family in hopes of gaining a contract for a reality television show. This hoax was uncovered by a slip of the tongue of the boy while being interviewed on television (he said, “we did this for a show”).

I have to say, I am appalled. These parents callously used their six-year-old son in an effort to gain publicity for themselves. They put a great number of police officers in a very stressful situation and wasted a lot of taxpayer money in a fruitless search and rescue operation. They disregarded the anguish every parent in Fort Collins felt as they watched this story unfold. They are now almost certainly going to be charged with at least two misdemeanors and two felonies for their reckless scheme. In my opinion, however, their worst crime is one that won’t bring any arrest or fine. The choice they made that tears my heart out is this: They willfully taught this little boy that it is okay to lie to get what you want. The consequences of this action will reap terrible fruit. This boy will grow up to believe that it is acceptable to manipulate people, distort the truth and do whatever it takes to get what he desires. To me, this is the ultimate tragedy in this terrible story.

So, what can we learn from this? It’s easy to point fingers and be appalled at this family and their choices, but what does it have to teach us about parenting? To me, the lesson to be learned can be summed up in this: We need to teach our children to love truth. God makes it very clear in His word that He hates lying tongues (see Proverbs 6:16-19). We need to make teaching our children truthfulness a top priority. Telling lies, exaggerating for effect, “stretching the truth” are not harmless activities. Each lie or perversion of the truth leads to more lies and culminates in a character that is dishonoring to God. As we watch the news stories about this family, let’s examine our own hearts and our children’s character and see if we, too, are guilty of teaching our children to be untruthful, whether by words or example. Let’s resolve to stand on the Truth that is found only in God’s word and to raise children who are passionately committed to Him. It’s the only way we will raise children who can change the world…and I, for one, don’t care to live in a world where parents use their children to gain fame and fortune for themselves.

1 comment:

Betsy Markman said...

I pray for those children who have been victims in so many ways. I live in Fort Collins, too, so I see every blow-by-blow account. Each new bit of information is more troubling than the last.
The father was bemoaning the fact that, "This whole thing has become so convoluted." It reminds me of what one of my pastors used to say: "Sin will take you farther than you want to go, cost you more than you want to pay, and keep you longer than you planned to stay."