I was reading over at Building Cathedrals where they had linked a Time Magazine article about over-parenting, and it got me thinking. Are the reasons that parents are tempted to become excessive in the protecting, pampering and programming of our kids? Three things jumped into my head;
1. Number of Children
As the quote cited in the post said, we are having less children these days. We all want to protect our children and give them things and encourage different skills, and when we have several children our energy and passion is spread out evenly among them. Multiple children have multiple talents, problems and desires to keep us busy without becoming to preoccupied with any one issue. Now imagine putting all of that energy and passion into one child, the temptation to perfectionism would arise! It could easily lead to parents that must give their child EVERY “opportunity” and protect them from anything (real or imagined) from ever happening to them.
We live in an age of amazing affluence. Our natural God-given desire to give our children good things can easily fall into a “more is better” trap. Add the advertising and pressure of being “normal” and parents are scrambling (and possibly even working extra jobs) to get their children the popular toys and cloths, music lessons and a tutor increase their IQ, and enroll them in the best sports camp. If you choose not to (or aren’t able to) do all these things for ever child, you will be told by books, TV and other parents that you know that your child will be “missing out” and “never develop to their full potential”.
We have incredible access to News, more than we ever have before. It’s not necessarily that there is more crime today, but we will actually hear about it on TV or see it on our iPhone. And what about all the freak accidents too, you just never know what can happen.
We are afraid that we won’t be “good” parents. It seems that whatever we do it won’t be enough, there is always more expectations that culture says we haven’t lived up to.
On the other hand what does God tell us when it comes to raising our children? I looked up texts on childrearing in the bible and the most of the verses I found talked about children as a blessing from God, children obeying their parents, and parents teaching, instructing and training their children.
DEUT 6:6 Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. 7 Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest.
PROV 22:6 Train a boy in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not
swerve from it.
EPH 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the
training and instruction of the Lord.
Instruct your children, teach them. Actually, He doesn’t even say that we are supposed to feed and clothe them! He says he’ll take care of that for us.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?
27 Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
28 Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. 29 But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.
30 If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
31 So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ 32 All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
33 But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.
The single most important God and Church commanded thing we can do for our children is (along with being open to having the children in the first place!) is to show them Christ, direct them to the risen Lord and instruct them how to live for Him. It’s kind of a relief for me to know that I don’t have to give my children EVERYTHING!