Over the past several weeks I’ve been talking about raising teenagers. There are whole books written on the subject, and all that I’ve been able to do is scratch the surface in these articles. And I had planned on finishing with last week’s article — at least until I found something else that needed to be said. Who knew that I’d find something this week already? But Tuesday morning I’m having breakfast and watching a morning news program and what do I hear but a guy who’s trying to sell books by essentially telling parents that anything they would do for their children is pretty much useless and children are simply going to be what they’re going to be. What?! I’ve touched on this topic before, but in view of what this guy is trying to sell — parents, what you do with your kids DOES make a difference.
Now, upon further reflection, I think I know what this author was trying to say: Take a break from trying to turn your child into a super-cultured intellectual or Ivy League success story. Stop and smell the parental roses and enjoy your children. I get that part; I can even partially agree with it.
But I fear that what he’ll actually do is start a new trend in lazy parenting — and in my observation, we have enough latch-key kids, enough TV-babysat kids, enough self-reared children already. God gave children parents for a reason: being human in all its physical, spiritual, moral, emotional, intellectual, social, cultural, and behavioral aspects is a complicated undertaking of growth. It’s not like being born a turtle out of an egg, abandoned on a beach in some remote Pacific isle, where waddling toward the sea by instinct is the only thing you need to know. Being God’s creative pinnacle, a human being, made in the image of God Himself, takes parenthood. It takes years. It takes unabated effort. It takes stalwart discipline — self-discipline and child-discipline. It takes patient endurance. It takes deliberate instruction and training and correction. It’s not a hobby or for the lazy.
So, speaking to the author’s point that parents should back-off, I’d say, let’s use the common sense our wise Creator gave us and invest our time, effort, and money for our children in things that will really make a difference in WHO they become. Invest in their spirituality and character as much as their intellectual and athletic development — “sow a character, reap a destiny.” Don’t let it become about getting involved in the “right” things, so that they can be in the “right” spot to meet the “right” people to get into the “right” school or “right” program. Let them get involved in a class or sport that they enjoy and then get them involved in things that will influence them for good. And I’ll be shameless about recommending the Lord’s church, the youth group, and Gander Brook.
Parenting can be a relatively thankless job — it’s a lot of hard work, diapers, arguments, frustration, unpleasant discipline, worry, and heartache punctuated by hugs, laughter, and kisses — until you see the good results on the other side of 25 years old. Don’t let the popular foolishness trick you into taking it lightly or abdicating your responsibility.