I was doing a search on the internet for “Secular Parenting” when I came across this article came to my attention.
Because it is broken up into segments, I thought that I’d write a quick response to each segment, rather than one long post on the whole thing. There are some decent points in the article, and I have no doubt that the author has the best of intentions, however there are some problems here.
First, the author equates “vision” with “expectations.” This is a minor quibble, but I think it’s important to realize that the two are not the same. I equate a vision for my parenting with how I want things to turn out and who I would like for my kids to be when all is said and done. I want my kids to feel loved, confident in themselves, and individual thinkers who don’t just blindly accept appeals to and from authority. My expectations are how I expect my children to get along in life. They need to be respectful, courteous, and kind. In reality, these expectations are more of myself than the kids as I need to teach them how and why to be this way.
The author states that our culture shapes our expectations in parenting. I have no argument with that. This is commonly understood that we behave according to the culture in which we’re raised. One only need visit another country to see that there are differences. However, because this article is an appeal for biblically-based parenting, I think it needs to be mentioned that our culture also has a strong influence on our religious faith as well. We’ve all heard the argument before, the religious faith you follow tends to be the faith of your parents or those around you with the most influence. This of course is not every situation. My parents are believers, yet I left the fold. There are plenty of examples of children rejecting their parents’ religion for another. I do think it is safe to say that generally speaking, our environment strongly influences our religious outlook.
Some parents think that their children will just run on their own. The modern mentality often incorporates this mindset into their lifestyle. I suppose there are some parents who think their children will just “run on their own.” However, the very next sentence says, without any evidence mind you, that this is often the mindset of the “modern mentality.” Firstly, is it just some parents or is it broad-based? Secondly, since you are separating modern mentality from biblical mentality, I think great care needs to be taken with how biblical you want your parenting to get. I’m not going to sit and list a bunch of examples, we’re all adults, but you know the common arguments about how children are treated by parents:
1. Disobedient kids should be put to death (Romans 1:20);
2. Tamar (and her unborn baby) were to be burned to death by her Father-in-Law, Judah, for prostitution until he found out HE was the father of the unborn child…then she was called righteous (Genesis 38);
3. Children should obey their parents in everything (Colossians 3:20);
4. Women are ceremonially unclean for twice as long following the birth of a daughter than a son (Leviticus 12).
These are minor ones that I’ve picked. There are numerable others where God orders the mass execution of entire people groups, God orders Abraham to sacrifice his son (as a test of faith)…which fortunately He stops just in time. I know the arguments concerning societal laws vs. God’s laws when it comes to these examples, however, my point is that isn’t our rejection of killing our kids because they are disobedient an example of this “modern mentality?” Our society has changed. What are the biblical ways of raising kids vs. the modern? Why are the biblical ways better? If the bible is inspired of God, how do we choose the correct way of raising our kids?
The author goes on to cite three news examples to buttress his argument. Once again, the problem is there is no corroboration of his point. In the suicide example, he states the statistics without providing any substance. It is just said that their “despair hit so hard that they gave up on life.” Well, this is true I’m sure. What’s the point though? I’m sure he intends to say that biblical parenting would solve the suicide problem, but where is the argument for it. WHAT IS BIBLICAL PARENTING?
The second example is sexual intercourse among teenagers.
By the ninth grade it is said that 34 percent of teens have had sexual intercourse. This rises to 60 percent by the twelfth grade. Okay, what’s the answer here? Abstinence training? Is sexual intercourse bad? I’m sure he wants to argue that it should only take place in marriage, but he doesn’t even say that. He just states the statistic. But he does add his own opinion here:
All the guilt, horror and shame occurs because their parents did not care for them.
Wow, that’s quite a statement. Sex results in guilt, horror, and shame? I’m sure it does sometimes. My observation (and opinion, since we’re just giving opinions it seems) is that guilt, horror, and shame tend to happen more because of unrealistic ideals placed on kids from either religious beliefs or their unreasonable parents. Teenagers are human and humans are sexual beings. Should teenagers have sex? I don’t think the majority of them are ready for the emotional result of sex. But to shame and guilt kids for behaving according to their nature, seems to me a bad way to go about it. At that point it’s not about trying to help kids navigate their desires and feelings, it’s about punishing them. I don’t believe most kids would naturally feel those feelings of shame, horror and guilt without the outside imposition of others. Of course, shame can be felt by kids depending on the situation. But to say that all sex of teenagers results in this is unfounded.
The last example is the over-medication of kids. I’m not an expert in child psychology, and I won’t pretend to be one. I’m sure plenty of kids are being medicated when they needn’t be, however, just because we suspect it’s a problem doesn’t mean that biblical parenting is the solution.
I think my main problem with at least this portion of the article is that there are no arguments in favor of biblical parenting. There isn’t even a description of what biblical parenting is. Only in the conclusion does he come close to offering this: Families were designed as close working units to provide an element of affection, provision and protection. Without this support from their families, the children will go unloved, needy and vulnerable. I can’t argue with this statement…I do believe the family is an appropriate vehicle in which to raise a child. The problem is this isn’t a just “biblical” view of parenting. I think the vast majority of parents, both believers and non-believers alike can agree with this statement. However, what is the definition of a “family”? Here we get into old mindset vs. modern mindset. Is it only a man and a woman with children? I suspect that would be his argument. He never defines it though.
I know that the vast majority of people who read this website will be believers who are looking for a quick shot in the arm of motivation. But that doesn’t make for good or justifiable argument. It’s opinion that is disguised as expertise, and to expect that people should automatically accept this is not appropriate. This is an example of group-think, not true inquiry.