These comments are offered as a balance to the thoughts I presented in the article entitled “Child-Centered Homes.” My wish is that both presentations be received as practical pastoral comments rather than a biblical exposition or lecture. Of course, my hope is that you do not conclude that my comments are unbiblical!
We live in a culture that promotes a self focused perspective on life. Pop slogans abound which betray this mindset: “If it feels good, do it.” “If you don’t look out for yourself, no one else will.” “Buy now; pay later.” “You owe it to yourself.” Unfortunately, this attitude extends to parenting as well. We can choose when to have children; if an inconvenient mistake happens, we can erase it by abortion, no problem. We can select what kind of children to keep; if the baby’s sex is not to our liking or if the baby is less than perfect, we can eliminate him or her and start over. And, of course, in our culture, it is considered socially enlightened to limit the number of children per family to one, or two at most.
Furthermore, laws now allow those living in homosexual relationships to continue their sinful lifestyle and still be “parents,” even here in the conservative Midwest. And divorce is no longer a quandary for us; it hasn’t been for at least forty years! We don’t worry about the impact on children; they will survive, and, besides, our happiness is most important.
Intentionally, though sometimes unwittingly, we provide all kinds of escapes from the daily reality of dealing with kids. Day care, pre- and after-school care, mom’s day out cooperatives, pre-school programs, and early kindergartens are all innocent enough and have their necessary place, but all are also sorely abused.
And, as a society, we routinely value careers or cherish comfortable lifestyles more than children or children’s welfare. Little thought is given to the impact that dual careers may have upon children. Often a desire for a certain economic living standard or the personal satisfaction derived from a career trumps all other considerations.
Theology of Parenting
Parenting theories based on the popular notions of behaviorism, the innate goodness of children, or discipline without corporal punishment must be rejected as unbiblical. Here are some core ideas that form a rudimentary biblical view of parenting.
- Normally it is easy to father or mother children, but it is difficult to become a father or mother to children. It is not something that happens naturally.
- Because all children belong to God, and because he has made children uniquely dependent upon parents for years rather than months, parents must see themselves as crucial vice regents of God himself.
- Children need to be raised; they can’t mature by themselves. God has commissioned parents to “bring up” children. Intentionally allowing children to raise themselves is a usually a disastrous formula.
- Becoming a parent requires changes in daily routines that reflect the added responsibility of relating to and raising kids.
- Because parenting is a huge task, it normally takes two: a father and a mother. The father is indeed the chief parent–the buck stops with him–however, Dad may not actually do everything; in fact, that would be unwise. It is supremely a team effort.
Possible Indicators of a Self-Centered Home
The following list is certainly not exhaustive, nor is it to be viewed as absolute. That is, some of these items may be perfectly normal, and perhaps even desirable, in the parent-child relationship; yet, they could indicate a tendency to self-centeredness, especially when done routinely. These items are listed randomly without priority order.
1. Dragging the kids with you wherever you go. You are unwilling to adjust your schedule to fit the needs of your kids; rather, you expect the kids to conform to your adult schedule.
2. Taking most vacations and trips without the kids. It is more relaxing without the hassle of looking after kids and planning things around their presence.
3. Not making time to plan and prepare nutritional meals for the children. Fast food and pre-packaged products are so much easier. Besides, overweight children are the norm rather than the exception.
4. An unwillingness to play at play with your kids. For that matter, an unwillingness to work at work with them.
5. Not allowing your kids to interrupt your leisure or “me” time. For example, coming home from work and expecting to have your own time without disruption from the kids. After all, you’ve had a hard day.
6. Engaging in individual recreational activities during prime times you could be with your kids, normally evenings and weekends.
7. Frequently dumping the kids with a sitter or leaving them at home so that you can take a break from them, or so that you can have your customary night out.
8. Not setting and keeping a regular routine for mealtimes, naptimes, and bedtimes because you want flexibility in your schedule.
9. Skipping nap time because it doesn’t fit your schedule.
10. Keeping kids up past bedtimes because it is not convenient for you to stop what you are doing or to return home.
11. Both parents holding fulltime jobs outside the home for reasons other than necessity.
12. Not adjusting your schedule so that you can participate in your kids’ activities, especially when they are old enough to have a schedule of their own.
13. Excluding kids from a voice in family activities and schedules.
14. Permanent birth control measures after one or two children because you don’t want your lifestyle cramped by a bunch of kids.
15. Complaining about never having enough money because you have all these kids.
16. Having an abortion.
17. Enrolling your kids in every possible activity or group (day camp, DVBS, private lessons, etc.) that allows you to drop them off so you can escape or have some time to yourself.
18. Enrolling your kids in pre-school or starting your kids as early as possible in kindergarten. It’s not that you see educational or social value in this; you just want them out from under foot.
19. Failure to discipline your kids consistently and corporally if necessary. It takes too much energy, patience, and time. It is easier to simply let them have their way.
20. Failure to establish a relationship with kids as individual persons. This takes too much effort; besides, you prefer adults.
21. Not evaluating your children’s individual needs and crafting a plan to address them. This requires huge amounts of effort as well as cooperation between spouses. It also may mean adjusting personal plans and preferences.
A Final Thought
As you interact with this list, please remember that every home is different. Every family situation presents its own set of challenges; every child is unique. So, the shoe won’t fit every family. You may identify with some of these thoughts; others may cause you to scratch your head and wonder what it is all about.
I have given these items unassumingly and with a desire to be of help. I know that at the end of the day, I don’t possess a bag full of answers. However, I am thankful if I have prodded your thinking a bit by raising some penetrating questions.
© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2014. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source.
Posted on Wed, April 23, 2014
by Joe Flatt filed under