Have We Really Become a Child Centered Culture?

I am a mother of 4 children, 3 biological and 1 step-child. 2 of my biological children are now adults, ages 20 and 18. Before I had children, I had desired to be a stay at home mom.

My desire to be a stay at home mom derived from being a “latch-key” kid whose parents divorced when I was 8 and dad was later stationed at an Air Force base a few states away. When I first married my husband, the father of my children, had said yes, that he wanted me to stay at home with our children. But then when the time came for me to be able to quit my job, he said we couldn’t financially afford it. So I ended up having to keep working full time.

Many leaders in the faith community have often said we (parents) shouldn’t put our children first. Our priorities should be in this order, 1. God, 2. Spouse, 3.Children. I used to support this way of thinking. Until my eyes opened to the fact that I was married to someone who put himself first. He would take the submission verse (Ephesians 5:24) of the Bible out of context and had said, I needed to obey my husband even if my husband chose to disobey God and wanted me to disobey God.

So in other words, if the husband chooses to neglect or abuse the children, because the husband is the head of the household (Ephesians 5:23), then this is ok because we are supposed to put God first, spouse second and children third.

But what about the scripture that says we should raise our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) to serve and obey God first. And also the scripture that says don’t provoke your children (Ephesians 6:4).

In today’s culture, I hear many people say we have become a child-centered society. While it sometimes may feel that way, with public schools focused on giving children the best education, access to extra- curricular activities, parents signing their children up for multiple activities; planning huge birthday parties, going on elaborate vacations to Disney World; buying our kids electronics for entertainment; churches organizing VBS, Youth activities, summer camps and numerous fun events.

I think we as parents are lying to ourselves. We go to jobs 40+ hours a week where we don’t see our children. We sign our children up for activities not only to teach or kids a cool new sport or skill; but to give us some more “me time”. We buy the kids the electronics so we as parents can have a break.

I ponder on the times back during the days of Jesus. Children were taught about the ways of life by their parents. There were no public schools, summer programs and large churches to send the children to. Daughters spent a majority of the day with their mothers in order to learn how to cook and care for the household. When boys became “men” at age 13, they went with their fathers to be taught how to farm the land.

Parents spent a lot of time with their children! I believe spouses may have spent less time with each other and more time with their children. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that spouses should spend more time with each other than with their children. It does say the children need to obey their parents (Deuteronomy 5:16) . I believe God commanded children to do this for their own safety, not as a means to serve the parents as slaves or to worship their parents. We are to worship and serve God.

I’ve also seen parents order their children around like slaves but not really teaching their children anything. The purpose of giving our children chores is to teach our children how to contribute to the household and eventually be able to take care of a house when they become adults. It’s not to get the dad a beer and his cigarettes, or to do the chores that the parents don’t want to do.

On the other hand, for those pastors / ministry leaders who often feel that parents become too focused on their children, I go back to how many hours the parents go to jobs, or the gym or golfing. How much time do these parents actually spend with their children .

Often I believe pastors preach against child-centered society because they notice the families aren’t attending service on Sunday due to sports leagues. While I do wholeheartedly believe church should be a priority. What good is it for parents to have a full schedule that doesn’t include time with their kids during the week and then attend a church service or sports event on Sunday, where they still aren’t really spending time with their children?

We as parents need to analyze how our time is being spent. All of our time, not just our free time on the weekends. How many hours do you spend speaking to your children? Spending time with your children does not mean watching a movie together, watching them play a sport, doing chores together, attending a party together or playing a video game together, or even sitting in a worship service together.

What I mean by actually spending time with your child is actively teaching them something and having conversations with them. We develop emotional intimacy with our children by being in conversation with them and learning about them. One of my favorite times with my children is while I am in the car one on one with them. I have had the best conversations with each of my children!

Many leaders in ministry preach about reading the Bible and praying to God in order to be in relationship with God. But sometimes Christian parents don’t spend this sort of time with their children.

5 years ago, I found out my children went through some traumatic experiences. I then had to closely look at how I was spending my time. I was spending 3-4 days serving in and attending my church. I was working full time. Before that I was also attending college full time. I decided I needed to remove some things from my schedule in order to spend more quality time with my children.

I have learned to say no to volunteering for some things at the church. I have let go of the guilt because I know how I spend my time. The people at the church don’t always know our personal schedules. They sometimes just assume that if you aren’t at church you must not be spending time with God and serving him. But I also serve God by ministering to and serving my family. I study the Bible on my own, and also have community with other Christians.

I challenge you to look at how you are spending your time. How many hours of the day are you doing things for yourself vs. God, your children or family? Be honest! Some justify working many hours a week by saying they are providing for their family, when in reality, you are actually just avoiding being at your house , or you feel you need to pay for activities for your children when all they really want or need is to spend time with you.

I’ve heard a familiar story of wealthy men on their death beds saying they wished they would have spent more time with their families, not to have made more money or spend more time at work.

2 thoughts on “Have We Really Become a Child Centered Culture?

  1. I empathize with what you’re going through. Where your husband uses the scriptures to get you to disobey God it seems he left out the scripture that tell husbands they are to respect their wives you can find it in 1 Peter 3:7 and Proverbs 12:4. Hope this encourages you and changes his thoughts.

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