Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Loving Children in More Ways than One

The modern parent seems to see their child not so much as a soul to be led to God but as a spectacle. People today have children not so much to fulfill the creation mandate and nurture their children morally and spiritually but to show the child off, to develop them such that they are publicly presentable. As soon as they can, parents enter into arms races with other parents, each unit sweating to fashion their charge into the most publicly respectable creation possible.

Along the way, parents enjoy the attention that comes from their children. They call attention to their child, campaign for their child to star in various fora, and generally teach the child that it is the center of the universe. Rather than forcing the child to conform to societal standards and expectations, many parents today conform to the wishes of the child, choosing pacification of the temper over education of the conscience. It's an understandable trade-off. Discipline is hard and debilitating work involving continual attention and effort. Modern parents in particular seem to have little stomach for it and thus lose out on opportunities to form true character in their children.

This is, after all, what one loses when one exchanges temporary calm for permanent change. Sure, your child stops crying now, but it also learns that it can manipulate you and lead you. It learns that it's will trumps yours. I suspect that unless you start very, very early, your child will quickly learn to assume its dominance. The modern parent seems to know this but not to care very much, or to think that the consequences won't be so great. The results show otherwise: children, even Christian children, whose wills, not their parents, dominate the home. We who will be parents need to recognize this and to prepare ourselves to avoid the parental arms race and to reject laziness and weakness.

We need to be strong for our children, in order that they will be strong in the world.


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