Child-centered Homes

Child-centered Homes

The following remarks are pastoral comments intended to prod your thinking about how you manage your home, especially as you deal with your kids. Even though many of these thoughts arise from roaming the halls of our church building, they are not given with specific names attached; they have broad application. However, I hope that if the shoe fits, you will gladly wear it.

I think you would agree that we live in a schizophrenic society. On the one hand, abortion is touted as a woman’s right; on the other hand, skilled technology is applied to save babies in the womb. On the one hand, we criticize families with several children; on the other hand, we lavishly care for the socially acceptable one child.

Indeed, children are prized possessions in our American culture. Author and no- nonsense talk show hostess Laura Schlessinger has popularized this notion with the catch phrase, “I am my kid’s mom.” Kids are often more cherished than one’s spouse, at least practically so. In cases of alleged child abuse, our legal atmosphere seems to be that a person is guilty unless proven innocent. And an allegation, even if proven false, can easily ruin a person’s life.

The church has not escaped this trend. Often inordinate amounts of money are spent to provide the latest and greatest nursery facilities with every imaginable security technology tool in order to attract the typical consumer-parent who is out shopping for a church. It would be a mistake to assume that here at FBC we are immune to such a mentality.

Theology of Children

Child psychology, personal opinions, cultural practices, and modern medicine must never take precedence over Scripture as we construct our view of children. In the Bible, we find a number of succinct, clearly taught didactics that form the foundation of a proper view of children:

  • God is sovereign over and in the details of every child’s life. No circumstance, trivial or major, escapes the providential control of the Creator. A child does not experience accidents, in the truest sense of the word.
  • All children, even yours, are sinners at conception; they are not innocent beings.
  • Children are free moral agents in their own right. They are individually accountable to God in the same manner as are their parents.
  • Children are individual image bearers. They, too, are made in the image and likeness of God himself.
  • Children are not possessions of parents; they are gifts from God given to parents. Because of this, God expects parents to exercise good and wise stewardship.
  • Children are dependent beings. God places them in this special relationship with parents. Consequently, kids must be brought up.
  • Children are not the center of the home; God is. Thus the family does not exist to serve the whims of the child; it exists to glorify God and fulfill his purposes.
  • The relationship between parent and child is temporary; the relationship between husband and wife is permanent.

Possible Indicators of a Child-Centered Home

I do not intend this list to be complete; I am sure you will be able to add to it. I also fully recognize that I am listing many good practices, so please take note of the term “possible.” My concern is for instances when balance is lacking. When some of these things are true, or are true to an extreme, then I think it is appropriate to ask whether or not the child has become the center of the home.

These concise items are listed randomly and in no particular order.

  1. Demanding zero risk. Kids will break things including themselves. The search for a totally safe place is fruitless and betrays an upside-down value system.
  2. Curtailing social interaction with adults because of a refusal to leave a child. This may mean that you refusal to use sitters, or if perchance you are forced to employ a sitter, then you overburden the sitter’s responsibilities with an endless laundry list of minute do’s and don’ts.
  3. Allowing your kids to interrupt your conversations with other adults. It wouldn’t do to give kids the message that they may have to wait to get your full attention.
  4. Permitting your kids to manipulate you or circumstances in order to get their way. Or maybe you just always let them have their way regardless.
  5. Making excuses for disobedient behavior. We can become rather good at this because we are convinced that disobedience reflects badly on us.
  6. Letting the kids dictate meal times and bedtimes. Of course, kids’ physical needs are different than adults’, but your whole world ought not to consistently grind to a halt for the sake of a few minutes.
  7. Allowing the child’s schedule to determine the whole family’s schedule. One child’s commitments should not always have priority over those of other family members. Among other things, this may mean cutting back on Sunday commitments that take the family away from worship.
  8. Refusing to let the child cry. This can be tough with infants at bedtime.
  9. Becoming your child’s friend or peer rather than an authority figure.
  10. Suspecting that every man or teenage boy is a child abuser.
  11. Coddling of or reasoning with kids in order to achieve proper behavior, rather than confronting and disciplining.
  12. Never allowing children to leave your sight.
  13. Never acknowledging that, when accidents happen or squabbles flare up with other kids, your child may be at fault. In conflicts with others, your basic assumption is that your child is always right. Defending your kid is your default position.
  14. Refusing to use nursery and children’s services at church or anywhere else. After all, you haven’t seen the background checks on all the workers.
  15. Providing the best money can buy for the child, even if it means a drastic change in your lifestyle. After all, the kid is worth it.
  16. Home schooling. Everyone knows that it is the best way to protect and shield a child from outside influences.
  17. Never requiring that they share possessions with siblings or friends.
  18. Never requiring chores around the house. They will become adults soon enough and they need to enjoy their childhood.
  19. Failing to require first-time obedience. Admittedly, this is difficult–not for the child, but for the parent!
  20. Short-circuiting natural consequences of irresponsible behavior. It is true that figuring out the natural consequences of sinful behavior can be complicated.
  21. Allowing children to dictate family decisions, rather than simply having a voice.
  22. Unreasonable shielding of children from normal childhood diseases and germs. They will get sick soon or later.
  23. Prolonged breast feeding.
  24. Being more affectionate with your child than with your spouse. It ought to be hugs all around.
  25. Allowing small children to routinely sleep in the bed with parents.
  26. Allowing children to be a wedge between parents. As kids mature, they become experts at playing one parent against the other. Parents must have a unified front so that kids know that they can do nothing to weaken the bond between Mom and Dad.

A Final Thought

I am keenly aware that my remarks can easily alienate you. Parents react strongly whenever they perceive that they or their children are under attack. I assure you, this is not an attack! My intent is to help. Perhaps this is a bumbling attempt to be pastoral, but I hope you receive it as I intend.

Certainly, I do not have solutions to every problem. However, together we can find answers that square with the Bible and please our Lord.

© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2014. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source.