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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Who's Raising our Kids?

Yeah, yeah, we parents are the ones responsible for raising our kids. We know, we know. But do we really consider who it is that is actually doing that function?

Years ago I asked my younger high school son why he seemed to act more responsibly than his older high school brother. (Mind you, his older brother wasn't a problem kid. It was a relative "more responsibly".) His answer surprised me. "He has friends." How was that the point? Well, my younger son wasn't as sociable as his older brother. As a result, the primary influence on my older son was a group of peers, while the primary influence on my younger son was his parents. Interesting.

The truth is that in our day, even though we all give lip-service to "Parents are responsible for raising their children", we're not really living that out. The influence of parents (and grandparents) has diminished greatly in the world in which we've thrust our children. They are subjected to television, liberal and often anti-Christian public schools, social media, and a range of other things that are "of the world". Sure, there are other influences as well. There are parents, to varying degrees, who seek to guide and lead their kids, but they're not as common as they used to be. Both of them are working to "give their children a better life". So they hand them over to schools -- hopefully private schools because, after all, they are working to "give their children a better life" -- and church and such. But they "hand them over". Of what quality is the school of choice and the church youth structures? They don't really know.

All this is true, but parents are still an influence on their kids. They are the earliest influence and the most ... continuous for the first part of their lives, even if they aren't the most direct or largest influence. The problem here is that parents often don't realize in what capacity they're the influence. For instance, the fact that they often leave their kids to others to educate and train them itself has an impact on the children. The way parents speak at home and live at home and relate to each other all influence their kids. I've known of parents who sent their kids to church on Sunday to get some "good religious teaching" but didn't attend themselves. That is proclaiming its own message to the kids. Our lives influence our children more than our words.

We live in our modern times. ("Thanks, Stan ... Captain Obvious.") I mean, it is hard for us to consider any other way of living. Technology, church youth groups, two-parent incomes, classroom schools, computers, television, social media ... all of this is normal, expected. We rarely ask, "But ... is it good?" Maybe we should. Maybe we should consider being in this modern world, but not of it. Because all of the statistics tell us that, for the most part, good, Christian parents are not raising their kids; the world is.

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