Today, I begin a series of lessons on parenting. Drawing on my own experiences as a parent, my experiences with others in my ministerial career, and my readings from various experts. In particular, several of the topics I’ve chosen come from an article in First Things, October 2016, “Don’t Ask the Kids,” by Leonard Sax, a practicing physician and author of The Collapse of Parenting.
For most of my readers, I suspect that parenting hasn’t collapsed. However, when my youngest son was in middle school, his assistant principle informed me that fifty per-cent of his class was living in single-parent homes, a shocking percentage. By no means do I suggest that single parents can’t raise their children well, but the best means of doing so already has a significant design feature: father and mother nurturing offspring bringing each of their unique talents to the process. This apparent collapse of the two-parent home has dire consequences for the future of our society.
Born to Be Parents
One author discovered a fall 2022 Pew Research survey found that despite the difficulties of raising children, a large majority of parents enjoy it and find it rewarding (here). Recently, a friend of mine showed me a picture of her “three-year-old exercise machine,” her child dancing. She exhibited a great deal of joy in showing the video to me. (How can you not like little people?) Parents, be encouraged! The joys of being a parent outweigh the difficulties, and you should know that most of your fellow parents like it.
We were born to be parents. Most people eventually settle down in a relationship and build a life together, and the natural result of marriage is producing offspring. To abandon children either by literal abandonment, as in the Roman empire, or by killing the unborn, as in America, is a travesty against nature. We love sex but not the natural result of it. If we ever knew it, we have forgotten that sex is the most powerful creative force in nature; it results in new life. The result of the union of a man and a woman proves to be one of the most sacred and creative acts that humans can engage in.
When Jesus is asked about divorce (Mt. 19:1-6), his answer refers his critics to creation. God made them male and female, the union of two people who create a one-flesh arrangement that was meant to be permanent. For the moment, set aside the problem of multiple wives in the Old Testament and realize that Jesus focuses on the original created order of marriage. In so doing Jesus actually establishes a new/old order of things, new because it challenges a prevailing social orthodoxy of divorce on demand, old because it resurrects the original intention of creation.
The stability created by such an arrangement provides the perfect environment for children. Admittedly, all marriages experience ups and downs, but negotiating those gives children the necessary tools to handle the obstacles they face in their marriages as well as in their professional and social lives. Considering what seems to border on a mental health crisis among many of our youth, this may be the solution that too many professionals neglect. I am fully aware that this issue needs to be addressed in other ways as well, but from what I’ve read and experienced a lot of what is happening to the next generation appears to come from problems in their family lives.
Be the Parent
As we move next week into the issue of parental authority, remember the phrase, “Be the parent!” Parents have not only the right to guide their children but the responsibility to provide that guidance. In subtle as well as blatant ways, the authority of parents has been minimized. In part, the notion of individual rights has trumped the ability of parents to make decisions for their children by assuming the children can best decide for themselves. In a more sinister way, the state or educational system now seeks to wrestle certain decisions away of parents. Turn the individual rights campaign against its misinformed advocates and against state mandates by standing up for your rights as parents!
Historically, I can assert that most societies give parents the right and responsibility to raise their children. With even more certainty, I can assert that parents have that right given by God. “Honor your father and mother” is not just one of the ten suggestions.
© 2023 Robert T. Weber, The Lazarus Chronicles and Words Done Right LLC
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