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Archive for May, 2011

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/us/12prom.html?_r=1&src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB

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How do kids grow to be “good”?

So many of them seem to be spoiled, the way an apple is spoiled: soft, wormy, and inedible. And the ratio seems to be escalating: so many more of the kids seen in public seem to be selfish, angry, demanding. And not just little ones. Ten year olds. Fifteen year olds.  Twenty year olds even.

All parents want “good” children. So how are some of us getting them, and some of us are not? And why do the numbers of the “spoiled” seem to be rising?

And what is “good” after all? It seems “bad” is easier to define. It’s certainly easier to spot. The child who is screaming on the floor of the cereal aisle “I hate you” certainly grabs our attention more than the one who quietly goes along with mom in the grocery store. Maybe the “good” child was just too tired to be “bad” today. Maybe they are developmentally too delayed to act out in this manner. Whatever it is, we tend to not even notice those “good” ones. But we sure notice the bad ones.

So, how did they get there? Are some just “destined” to be bad, and others just “destined” to be good? This seems to suggest a sort of Calvinist¬† method of child training, “just leave them alone, and they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them”.

But, certainly the teaching of the Word belies this itself. All are born evil. All. Children don’t grow into “good” adults by some metaphysical chance. Left alone, they turn selfish, brutal, barbaric. That’s why The Lord of the Flies rings so depressingly true to our ears. And we’re certainly seeing more of those traits in the young of America today.

No, all are born evil, with the guarantee that, unattended, they will grow into “bad” children. No-one has to teach kids to be bad. They come to it very naturally. What parent teaches their first born to lie? To be sneaky? To arch their back and scream when they want to get down at 8 months old, or to scream “I hate you” when they want Fruit Loops at 3 years old, or to invite their friends over for a drug and drinking party at 15, when their parents go away for a weekend celebration of their 25th anniversary?

And that is the crux of the matter, I think. All are born with seeds of sin. And those seeds naturally grow into weeds: strong, resistant to pulling, and deep rooted.

No, weeds never “just go away” by ignoring them. That’s why the “leave em alone” method of training ALWAYS results in a “soft, wormy and inedible”¬† result. The vegetable garden is certainly parabolic illustration of that. Just try “leaving the weeds alone” there for very long, and they will squeeze out the life of the vegetable plants! In the same way, “hands-off parenting” (the kind advocated by the “experts” all too often) does not produce the “good” kids that we’re all after.

So just how DO we get those “good” kids? Still mulling that over. More to come.

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