Who said it would be easy raising children in the modern world? Paul Dinolfo offers some important insights, based on scriptural principles and pastoral wisdom for parents today. Paul is the senior coordinator of the Work of Christ community in Lansing, Michigan, USA. The following article is excerpted from Paul's recent booklet entitled, Child-Centered Parenting and Family Life. While the booklet is primarily addressed to parents in the Sword of the Spirit communities, his insights are beneficial for all Christian parents who want to raise their children to be strong faith-filled Christians. Paul writes in the introduction: "The purpose of this booklet is to cast light on some of the problems that can develop when our priorities lack the proper balance, giving particular attention to a special challenge of our modern age: child-centered parenting. We will discuss ways to address these problems, both as parents and as communities."Conflicting attitudes towards children
There appears to be two growing, contradictory attitudes towards children in contemporary western society. On the one hand, an alarming number of parents are abandoning, neglecting, or abusing their children. On the other hand, there are also a growing number of parents who are becoming overly absorbed in the lives of their children. While these parents are certainly well intentioned, it is wise to ask: Is this approach really good for the children?
These well-meaning parents believe that they should involve their children in an ever-expanding list of organized activities and programs. In addition, these parents believe that it is very important that they are also involved, albeit as spectators, in all their children’s activities. As a result, family life increasingly revolves around and is shaped by the activities of the children. Traditional family patterns such as having dinner together, family devotions, family night, and family chores take a back seat. After all, there is only so much time. Family patterns become a low priority and, ultimately, dispensable. The family’s involvement in other stable relational groupings (e.g. extended family, neighborhood community, church community) also tends to suffer, as this flurry of activity leaves little room for much beyond work and the children’s activities.
This modern development is in contrast to all of human history prior to the last few decades in which:
shift in pastoral priorities
The Bible paints a radically different
picture: that true happiness flows from good character and serving others.
“Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life
will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33)
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