some thoughts on parenting and children
Parenting is not this easy.
Having been a child, and then later a parent, I can say parenting is/can be a frustrating, even thankless task. We are not being anti-child here. In some ways, this greater difficulty in contemporary parenting and child rearing is the product of industrial society.
Greetings to all!
It is Sunday here in North America. Time for a sermon? No, just these thoughts. This essay did get rather long, but we wish to address this topic in a single essay.
Before beginning, let us ask why is this subject relevant or important? It is relevant and important because the proper rearing of our children is necessary to do justice to our children’s worth and human potential. Also, in these terrible times, we need to raise up children that as adults will have the necessary character strengths to effectively take on the very substantial societal problems that we are leaving to them. For those who have been like Rip Van Winkle these past few decades and been asleep so to speak, our schools (throughout the Western world) are not developing critical and independent thinking skills in our children. Therefore, we as caring parents need to play an active role in the intellectual and character development of our children.
Here are our thoughts, observations, and insights on this subject.
As parenting (raising children) is so very challenging, we observe that it really requires 2 parents in the home, the mother and the father. We note the rather heroic efforts of single mothers. However, feminist views aside, the reality is that a single mother is not going to have an easy time of dealing with impulsive, head strong teenage sons. There is a need for wives and husbands to stay together. Thus, we need to work to strengthen marriages and reduce the rate of divorce for the benefit of the spouses and their children.
Long time readers know of my disdain for the US medical establishment. Simply put, I do not trust it as the doctors have both erred and lied to the American public too many times over too many decades. Beware of the doctors that warn of spoiling crying children by picking them up or going to their crib to check on them. (This nonsense may have started in the 1950s, perhaps earlier.) Early in their lives, crying is the only means of communication for babies. (As we have written previously, a healthy skepticism and some common sense are required when listening to doctors in the US.) Pay attention to your babies when they are crying. Even if there is nothing really wrong, they may just need to know that there is a caring human being nearby to assure them they are not alone. Of course, you may need to wean them of this (being at their beck and call so to speak) at the proper age, but that age is not likely before they are 2 or 3 years old.
You do not have to raise your children the same way your parents raised their children. Neither your parents, nor mine, were perfect in their parenting. Take the good, and leave behind the bad from your upbringing. As parents, we are working to raise up responsible adults that can and will live constructive, productive lives. There is the challenge of finding the right amount of freedom to allow your children as they grow up and still instilling self-discipline and personal responsibility in them. This is an ongoing challenge.
As well, there comes a time when so-called “tough love” is needed and appropriate. Some children will not respond to discipline, will not get away from their destructive behavior (drug abuse for example, but promiscuous sex is another problematic behavior for both teen-aged boys and girls), if there are not some serious consequences for such actions. There are parents who have trouble here. They think that being strict or severe when it is necessary is not loving, or is abusive. It is not. Especially during the teen years, children will test the limits. And, parents will need to enforce those limits on the teens’ behavior for the teens’ own good. Avoid the trap of being a co-dependent or enabler of such behaviors. Family counseling may be needed and can be helpful for both parents and teens.
Achieving a balanced perspective and moderation in your approach are important. There are those parents who emotionally neglect or even emotionally abuse their children. At the other end of the distribution, we see examples of parents who idolize their children – perhaps as extensions of their own egos? – even going so far as to make false gods out of their children. (This is no exaggeration. We personally know parents where this does appear to be the case.) Your children are human beings. Just that. They are not demigods, nor are they objects. When a man and woman lie with one another, they can make a new body. The non-material, yet eternal soul of the child comes from God. (You may have to remind your own parents of that.) Love your children. Do not idolize them.
Today’s parents hear quite frequently about peer pressure on their children. This may lead parents to think they have no powers of persuasion with their teen-aged children. Yet, we do hear of surveys that tell us that parents still have a great deal of influence over their children. Children still listen to their parents. In fact, many children consciously want guidance from their parents on various subjects but may be hesitant or afraid to seek such guidance or input from their parents. Mothers and fathers often need to take the initiative and start the communication.
Talking to your children about sex at the appropriate time and in the appropriate ways is very important. Do not avoid this needed communication because you assume the schools take care of this parental responsibility for you in “sex education” programs. We suggest that both parents talk to each child and foster and encourage 2 way communication on the issue of sex and questions about it. Both parents being present and participating in the initial conversations demonstrate to the child the importance of the issue and the shared parental concern. We observe that there is a neglect of daughters by fathers in this area. Teen aged daughters are very vulnerable here, and appropriate concern and guidance from fathers is so crucial to helping protect them from bad decisions they may make. (Some Christian marriage bloggers have written helpful essays on talking with your children about sex.) Parents can convey a healthy, sex positive message to their children, and stress that sex is best saved for a loving marriage (for their protection, physical, emotional and yes, spiritual). Make no mistake: Parental involvement is needed to offset both peer pressure and the messages society is bombarding these children with each day!
As to the issue of sex and children . . . . In an essay in July, 2012 (on the artificially prolonged adolescence in the US), I dared to suggest 1. removing the traces of hormones in the meats and dairy products our children consume, and 2. restructuring our educational system so that young people are out of secondary school at age 16 (as happens now in many industrial nations) and then they can be out of trade schools or colleges by age 20 or 21 and then be able to marry. Removing the hormones from the foods may just allow the onset of physical sexual maturation (puberty) in our children to return to the age that it occurred in our grandparents’ time. Girls, in the US, are now starting to menstruate at absurdly young ages. The same is true for boys as to their physical sexual maturation. We do not expect our suggestions to be acted upon by society, but we still think that these suggestions, if implemented, would help to reduce the incidence of pre-marital sex in the US. Alas, both culture and biology are currently working against this.
After many years of child rearing with much effort and sacrifice, it is difficult for some parents to accept the fact that their children have become adults. You may need to consciously make the effort to accept this. Yes, you can still advise your children, but realize that as adults, your children will make their own decisions. You tried to raise them to be responsible adults. Now, they must live their own lives.
Lastly, we need to mention that there are many children waiting to be placed in foster families or to be adopted. This is a truly tragic situation. We will not quote statistics that merely serve to make this issue abstract and to dehumanize the individual children who need to be placed in loving families. The fact that there are so many abandoned children is a national shame and disgrace, and also an indictment of the American people.
We hear public service announcements on the radio that there is a pressing need in the rural counties of Nevada (our home state) for foster parents for these children without families. This need is pressing in all 50 states. We pray that more loving couples will open their hearts and their homes to children who need to be placed in loving families. As well, we continue to help support with our charitable contributions those organizations that are effectively helping abandoned, abused, and/or troubled children in our nation.
Every child deserves (and needs) to be loved and not rejected, nor abandoned, nor thrown away.
Pleases share/forward this essay to parents you know who may benefit from it.
Since it appears that few subscribers read our essays and only a few click on the like button, we will “like” this essay as it did require some effort and precious time on our part. Best wishes to all.