In the 21st Century the home functions as a stage. Children are displayed, not protected. Children are exploited, not trained. Sinful behavior is accepted and defended. Parents live for their children and children live for themselves.
Today, children are to be accommodated. Too often, they become the center of family life. So instead of training children, our modern world tends to idolize them. Parents live for their children instead of for God. Children must be free to choose what they want to be. Self-expression is the creed of the day, no matter how perverse that expression may be. It does not take long for children raised this way to become anything but enjoyable. Thus child abuse rises, broken homes become the norm and life for many families is an increasing frustration.
When this happens, nothing good is accomplished. Marriages are weakened because of this wrong-headed focus. Children can never meet the expectations of parents who worship them. Divorce and child abuse increase. In the end, all that is left is relational rubble.
Modern society’s answer is to encourage children to be better performers on the stage of life. Parents invest in their children’s accomplishments and performance. If children are not on the honor roll, winning a “student of the month award”, securing their teacher’s approval or leading the team in scoring, parents are disappointed. No child can bear this awful weight.
This emphasis on performance can also lead to children becoming cynical and disaffected by Christianity. An emphasis on performance instead of the gospel is toxic. Children who have become the misplaced objects of worship by their parents cannot bear this weight. Children who become the means to their parents enjoyment and personal fulfillment will often despise the beliefs of their family and church.
The self-serving idolatry of living for your children will ultimately bring destruction to your family. Attempting to save your life through your children will consume you and them. The home is not to be a stage for displaying children.
Over against this modern theme is God’s direction to teach children about His ways and how He runs His world. Hope lies in the performance of Jesus Christ, not in our children’s achievements.
Notice the contrast with the instruction of Proverbs. Children are told to listen, not perform. God says that life is in the balance. Instruction. Wisdom. Learning. Teaching. Obedience. Understanding. Gospel. These words form God’s focus for raising for your children. They are best deployed in the messy moments of life, when things are not perfect. Heed Solomon’s warning: “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.”
Wisdom will protect your children; emphasizing performance will destroy them.