Yesterday we began talking about the biblical model of a family.
In a nutshell, the mandate on parenting is pretty simple. You, who are parents, were given a mission by God. That mission was to raise up a child from birth to 18 or so. When I say or so I don’t mean 30. In those 18 years you are to teach them to one day inherit their own throne, in other words, their own home, job and material possessions and family. They are to rule in the image of God and take dominion and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:27-28). In Jewish tradition the age is lowered to 13. At 13 a boy becomes a man and by then he is expected to know and have acquired the education of what is expected of him in honoring his faith and the commandments of the Lord as a man. The last five years are spent discovering his character as a man. With two children up and out I can tell you that time flies and that you must start early.
The problem is that we are waiting much too long to teach or we are not teaching at all the virtue that is going to be required of a king or a queen of their own domain. So our kids go off to college and they don’t know what to do. Many can’t do laundry, balance a checkbook, budget, cook, keep a job or study on their own. They don’t know basic things about modesty, things like their bodies being precious gifts and that a reputation is to be guarded. In listening recently to a former college dean he says that parents would send their children off to college with a set amount of money for the semester. That child would spend the money within weeks and then come to see him when book fees or lab fees were overdue looking for a bail out. Instead of taking their children back home for more training the parents would send more money. The only thing is, money doesn’t fix a lack of preparation and pretty soon the reckless behavior shows up in other places like drugs and alcohol and other bad behavior. The child was not prepared and the fault lies squarely, in most cases, but not all, on the parents lack of training in these areas. Let’s face it, you know your child and you know if they can handle adult life on their own or not. It doesn’t really seem fair to throw a kid, regardless of age, into a situation they have not been prepared to handle.
So instead of teaching your children to rule their own life, parents instead are teaching their children to be a prince or princess for the rest of their life. In other words, the parents will always be responsible for the children. Some parents have 30 year old children at home without steady jobs just living off of their parents. Some parents have children who are married with children and have never left home.
Parents were never given the task to control their children’s lives forever. Eventually they are to set up their own homes independent of you and live their own lives. I have friends whose children are grown with children of their own. These friends have bought every car their children have driven, their homes, pay their cable and cell phone bills and insurance, babysit on a regular basis and well you get the picture. They have raised their children to be a prince with no idea how to be a king. I don’t even know if they realize the fact that their need to control their children is so great that they have made them servants or slaves instead of royalty.
The reason why this is a disservice is that these parents will more than likely not out-live their children. At one point in that child’s life the responsibility will shift and they won’t know what to do with it. They are setting up their children for failure and are completely unaware. At some point we have to launch the arrow into its target destiny.