It’s parenting month and I urge a mischievous thought. Either God gave children to parents to teach them [the parents] patience/humility or God gave parents to children that children might be trained by them. Whatever, there is a teaching responsibility that parents and adults have with reference to their children or those under their care as suggested by Prov. 22.6. That passage says in the King James Version “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
If you are an honest Christian parent or a sensitive non-Christian you will have to admit that Prov. 22.6 is one of those passages that you wish was true automatically but which you know seems so untrue given the experience you have had in raising children.
If it helps let me say to you that the verse is making a link between the education/training of a child and the character of that child in a context where the child was seen and treated as belonging to the whole community so the training/education of the child, though primarily a role for parents, was regarded as a serious communal responsibility.
Though one might want to highlight the difference in context between now in Jamaica and then in old Israel (or even in old Jamaica) yet in a mad, mad workaholic world we would do well as parents to ponder that in truth there is an equation that the passage suggests which still has some merits. The equation is this: Expectations [‘should grow’] + Efforts [‘train’] = Effect [‘will not depart’].
With that equation in mind let us reflect together on Parental expectations.
To appreciate the problem and the suggestions we are about to touch on just answer two questions to yourself. 1) Did you turn out the way your parents/guardians expected you to? 2) Did those parents/guardians really help you to achieve their expectations of you?
We might do well to remember that “from whom much is expected to such much must be given’ or “to whom much is given from such only can much be expected’.
The basic expectations of parents, generally, is that the child will behave properly, work diligently and achieve commendably. All legitimate expectations but must be put in proper context against parental efforts.
I wish to remind you of that simple yet fundamental reason why every parent should be engaged in serious efforts for his/her child. You owe your child the best parental efforts you can give because of the status and responsibility you have been given arising from that child’s existence. So parental efforts are necessary because of the parent’s status and responsibility.
What status you might ask? Ponder this simple, even trite, but fundamental notion. Every grown male is a man and every grown female a woman but being a mother or father is a status conferred upon you by a child.
Your status as a mother is dependent on that child. Your status as a father is dependent on that child and for some on the child’s mother (short of a conclusive paternity test).
That should be a humbling thought and my conviction is that if for no other reason the child deserves proper parenting as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for the status you have conferred upon me.
The other basic parenting thought is this when a woman, single or married, decides to have a child she does in principle and should in practice put her career, her interests, and her ambitions on a modified path for at least the early years of that child’s life. Why? Because proper child-rearing demands the unique input of the biological mother who, aware of the cruciality of her influence as one of the most significant persons in the child’s life, will seek to improve her parenting skills in the interest of her child’s development.
No domestic auxiliary, child-minder or day care facility can substitute for such a mother for none has the bonding edge and therefore the potentiality for wholesome influence as the mother.
When a man, single or married, decides to have a child he does in principle and should in practice put his career, his interests, and his ambitions on a modified path for at least the early years of that child’s life. Why? Because proper child-rearing, of both girls and boys, demands the unique input of the biological father who, aware of the cruciality of his influence as one of the most significant persons in the child’s life, will seek to improve his parenting skills in the interest of his child’s development.
When parenting is approached in this way the desired effect will more likely be evident and for those of us who need help there are agencies now that can be called on like the Parenting Support Commission and groups like Family Life Ministries.
Parenting or raising a wholesome child in these modern mixed up times is no child’s play!