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Monday, June 15, 2015


Recent studies have indicated that kids, particularly high school and college age kids, are suffering from excessive stress. Further, the primary cause, they say, of this stress is "helicopter parents". Psychologist Chris Meno said that "over-involved 'helicopter parenting' is taking a serious toll on the psychological well-being of college students."

Over against that we have Christian parents who are working hard to keep their kids from the evil influences of public schools and the Internet and television and the like. They believe that shielding their kids from this stuff is the best approach. They are their own version of "helicopter parents".

"But," one might say, "aren't we supposed to do that?" Well, if you think about it, Solomon's wise "Train up your children in the way they should go" (Prov 22:6) is not the same thing as "Keep your kids away from evil influences." We are not commanded to "shelter your family from outside forces", but to "teach them diligently" (Deut 6:4-7). The orders issued from the top are to "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph 6:4), not to make sure that no sinful pressures be allowed to be brought to bear on your family.

I think, in fact, that this is precisely where we have gone astray in modern American Christian parenting. Some are not working at it at all. Others are working hard to shelter their kids. But how many are teaching their kids? How many are filling their children's minds with the truth, with the weapons of spiritual warfare, with the Word of God? How many make it their daily practice to speak of these things "when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise" (Deut 6:7)? Jesus told us to make disciples, "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matt 28:20) How many parents are doing that?

Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to suggest that parents are negligent. I think that they were never taught, that their experiences, if it was Christian at all, were much closer to today's version of "avoidance" rather than "diligent teaching". It was, in fact, Eve's approach in the garden. When the serpent asked what God had commanded, she said, "God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" (Gen 3:3) No, He didn't. No word of "touching". That was Eve's method. Not "What was the command?" or "What was the significance?", but avoidance. "Don't touch." And Eve illustrates the effectiveness of such an approach. It fails.

The truth is your kids are little sinners, born that way. Sure, they need godly protection. But, more importantly, they need godly training. They need godly discipline. They need godly influence. They need godly examples. And what they really need is a change of heart, something parents cannot supply. We can only train and pray, not change them. That's God's job. However, I can tell you that offering avoidance and not training is not a useful method of addressing a problem the size of your kids' sin nature.

So don't be a "helicopter parent". And don't be an absent parent. Make your kids disciples. Teach them. Discipline them. Train them. And, oh, by the way, if you're not trained yourself, you might need to address that issue, too. We are not told "Help a child avoid ungodly influences and when he is old he will not depart." No. Training is required. It is commanded by God. It is a God-given responsibility of parents. We ought to act on what we are told.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Every parent I have heard referred to as a "helicopter parent" was just doing their job of teaching their child to avoid the teaching and the ways of the world. The LEFT hates that, and so the name-calling. They don't want parents to contradict the brainwashing of the public schools, they don't want parents to teach their children discernment, they don't want parents to teach their children to avoid the lies of the entertainment industry, etc. And we all know that if you label someone, then they will often reverse their beliefs just so they won't be seen as bigoted, etc.

Stan said...

The ones I'd term "helicopter parent" are the ones that cannot allow their children to operate without their presence and don't admit their child could be wrong. They're the ones that deny a teacher's claim that their little Johnny did something wrong in class and call on the school board to fire that poorly-prepared teacher for such slander. That kind of thing.