Go to Sleep!

Posted on June 7, 2011 · Posted in Parenting

This is the title of a parenting book that is currently ranked number eight of all books sold on Amazon. Previously, it has been ranked at number one. The book is all of 32 pages long. Each page has a short, witty verse which overlays some creative and appealing artwork built on the book’s theme: frustrated attempts to get a toddler to sleep. This attractive little book is written from the perspective of a sleep-deprived parent, desperately longing for his young daughter to finally nod off.

This book is a best seller because it touches on several universal themes of parenting: the impossibility of controlling the behavior of toddlers; more specifically, dealing with toddlers who will not go to sleep; and, of course, the behavior of parents who can’t control their children. It has something with which every parent can connect. And, oh yes, it has one more modern universal – it is boldly and unashamedly profane. I would say it’s language is shockingly profane, but in Western culture that is no longer the case. Consistent with much modern literature, vulgar, blasphemous, coarse language leaps off each page.

Before I forget—the title of this book is actually two words longer than “go to sleep.” It actually reads “Go the — to sleep.” But then, you may have figured that out for yourself.

You see, this book is about parents who have made children the center of their universe. These parents purchase the latest fashions for their toddlers. They make sure that each toy is not only safe and eco-friendly, but intellectually stimulating as well. Only the most healthful foods are prepared for this child. A college fund was started before the baby was even conceived. Everything possible has been done for the child, including a firm commitment not to spank. Spanking in any form is, of course, blatant child abuse, and the toddler has recognized that “truth” practically from birth. She knows that her world is hers to control.

In this context, the approach to a child that would never be tolerated is to tell a child straight up that every person is born a sinner, deserving to be punished by the God who made him and holds him accountable. Toddlers are far too young to hear about a Savior. That must wait until they are mature enough to make personal decisions about issues of faith and religion—say when they are 45.  So now, do you see the scene that is set? A bleary-eyed parent who has done everything imaginable for his daughter is held hostage each night by that same toddler-turned-terrorist. This parent has no God to cry out to for strength and wisdom. If there is a prayer to be made it is said to whatever deity may be passing by, in hopes he or she will wave a magic wand and make the little tyrant pass out. So what is the sleepless parent left to do, but give in to frustration? The language in the little book will be mostly spoken only in the mind. But given the huge popularity of the book, it is safe to say that the author of  has struck a chord with hundreds of thousands of sleepy parents.

When I first saw the book, I was outraged at its bold and profane presentation. I reasoned that I would never say, or even think, such things about my children. As I have thought more about the book, the outrage has been replaced with a growing sadness. As I understand it, this book is about man trying to do things his own way. It is about intelligent, but proud, people being humbled by a self-centered three-year-old. The book is yet another indication of our culture presuming to move beyond the God Who Is. It is a poignant reminder that there are folks who are lost and in need of the gospel.

I would suggest that this book represents a huge evangelistic opportunity. Children were never intended to be installed as rulers of the universe, and it is actually cruel to treat them as if they were. You can correctly assume that many parents face the dilemma posed by this little book. Why not strike up a conversation with a sleepy parent of toddlers? Let him or her know that there is One who will rule their world with grace and peace. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.” The stark reality is that if they don’t come to Christ, they will not be blessed. Then, instead of being a blessing to their parents they may become the source of agony and frustration. Do not withhold the blessings and grace of being a parent who lives for Christ. There are many sleep-deprived parents who need to hear that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  Tell them.

 

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.