I know I usually write about art, but I’ve got something “caught in my craw,” so I’m going to share my heart with you as one of the “elder women of the church” (Titus 2:3-5). Consider the following scenario from any grocery store in America on any day of the week:
Child: (in grocery cart about 4:30 p.m.) I wanna’ ice cream. Can I have one, please, please. . .
Parent: Not now. It’s almost time for dinner. Maybe later.
Child: Aw. . .I wanna’ ice cream. Pleeeeeeze. I’ll eat my dinner. I’m hungry now. Why can’t I have one?
Parent: . . . (reader fills in this response). . .
Almost every parent, Christian and non-Christian alike, tries to teach their children to not commit such overt sins as stealing, lying, and murdering. But where does sin really begin? I contend that it is already in place in the attitudes and character values that have been formed.
Before Satan began his fall from grace he was already rebellious, a self-promoter, and a manipulator. As Christian parents we have a responsibility to help our children deal with such carnal character qualities before they manifest themselves in sin. The world, however, embraces and applauds these very same qualities by saying that a person is shrewd, self-sufficient, independent, ambitious, and able to think for themselves.
When I became a born-again believer at the age of 30 I was already the mother of three children. When the Holy Spirit showed me that the Lord valued humility, dependence, self-sacrifice, and self-effacement, I was shocked to realize that my parenting was not designed to instill such Godly qualities into my children. Rather I was consciously instilling the qualities that the world assures will lead to success. Judging by many of the children that I have met through my church and at the school where I reach, I suspect that there may be other parents who are sorting through these same conflicting messages.
I encourage you to examine how you would finish the little scene we started with. Would the child learn Godly values or carnal values with such typical parental responses as: “Oh, all right, but you’d better eat your dinner”, “If I let you have one will you promise me. . .”, or even “If you’ll be quiet, I’ll let you have one after dinner.” I would suggest that we may serve the child better to look for such teachable moments to say something like: “I have already answered your question. It’s not nice to keep asking. If you continue to do so I will consider it disobedience.”
My prayers are with you as you struggle to raise your children in today’s world which is even more challenging than the one of forty years ago. God bless you.