My daughter, who has nannied and babysat for families from New England to Florida, pointed me to this article by a British nanny. She observes five reasons for worry with modern day parenting of little ones. These are good for Christian parents to see because we are influenced by the culture we live in. My comments are in italics afterwards.
Her five are:
1. A fear of our children.
“I have what I think of as “the sippy cup test,” wherein I will observe a parent getting her toddler a cup of milk in the morning. If the child says, “I want the pink sippy cup, not the blue!” yet the mum has already poured the milk into the blue sippy cup, I watch carefully to see how the parent reacts. More often than not, the mum’s face whitens and she rushes to get the preferred sippy cup before the child has a tantrum.”
We are running to their every whim not conforming their will to ours. Gospel parenting knows the need to establish our proper authority and train a child to submit their will to ours.
2. A lowered bar.
“When children misbehave, whether it’s by way of public outburst or private surliness, parents are apt to shrug their shoulders as if to say, “That’s just the way it is with kids.” I assure you, it doesn’t have to be. Children are capable of much more than parents typically expect from them, whether it’s in the form of proper manners, respect for elders, chores, generosity or self-control.”
Absolutely! Children can be trained for obedience. The grace of God trains us. Gospel parenting realizes that as image bearers, our preconverted children are capable of obedience.
3. We’ve lost the village.
“It used to be that bus drivers, teachers, shopkeepers and other parents had carte blanche to correct an unruly child. They would act as the mum and dad’s eyes and ears when their children were out of sight, and everyone worked towards the same shared interest: raising proper boys and girls. This village was one of support. Now, when someone who is not the child’s parent dares to correct him, the mum and dad get upset. They want their child to appear perfect, and so they often don’t accept teachers’ and others’ reports that he is not.”
A biblical worldview says that my little image bearer is also immature with a bent toward sin. I don’t expect him or her to be perfect. Acts of misbehavior do not reflect on my parenting. They reveal he is a little sinner. And we want to deal with these things early. So we are glad when other parents help us in this.
4. A reliance on shortcuts.
“I think it’s wonderful that parents have all sorts of electronics to help them through airline flights and long waits at the doctor’s office….But shortcuts can be a slippery slope. When you see how wonderful it is that Caillou can entertain your child on a flight, don’t be tempted to put it on when you are at a restaurant. Children must still learn patience.”
There is a time for character development and a time for distraction. The majority of time is character development. Don’t let the second replace the first.
5. Parents put their children’s needs ahead of their own.
“Naturally, parents are wired to take care of their children first… I am an advocate of adhering to a schedule that suits your child’s needs, and of practices like feeding and clothing your children first. But parents today have taken it too far, completely subsuming their own needs and mental health for the sake of their children. So often I see mums get up from bed again and again to fulfill the whims of their child. Or dads drop everything to run across the zoo to get their daughter a drink because she’s thirsty.”
Sin makes all of us, our children included, self-centered. Part of moving our children from their natural self-centeredness to other (eg. God) centeredness is having them wait and think of others.
Parents who are seeking to raise their children differently than the world would do well to consider which of these cultural practices are pressing in on their parenting. Child-centered parenting is not the answer. We love our children but we love them from a Christ-centered perspective and guided by biblical truth.
You can read the article here.