While every parent wants what’s best for their children, it is easy to forget that even the purest of intentions are frequently accompanied by tragically undesirable consequences. This is most evident in the entitlement mindset that now permeates American culture. With this in mind, I would like to submit four reasons why our modern approach to parenting is in desperate need of a makeover.
1. We are beginning to outsource our primary supervisory responsibilities. It is now common to find children as young as 18 months of age actively engaging with tablets and smartphones. If we are honest with ourselves, we will confess the reason is that parenting is extremely hard and it is nice to have a break every now and again.
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Unfortunately, what once was an exception now seems to be the norm. It is nearly impossible to go to the grocery store or a restaurant and not see a toddler casting his gaze upon the glow of a device. This should not be. When we make the decision to hand devices to our children to appease their impatience, we are sending them a clear message that an attention span is a completely worthless behavioral attribute. Furthermore, we are teaching them that there is no value in time spent developing an imagination or engaging in deep thought. It takes the splendor and wonder right out of life!
The culture says that children need an introduction to technology as soon as possible. We are told this will lay the foundation for their future success. Consider me antiquated as I cling to the Biblical proverb that “there is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
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Here’s how. Psychological research suggests that toddlers should never be handed a smartphone. Why? Well, according to renowned Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, children lack the cognitive development to think logically or engage in operational thought until the age of seven. At two years of age, children cannot differentiate between what is real and what is fake. When they start logging hours into electronic media, they slowly begin to develop an embedded trust in its messaging. While this messaging appears harmless on basic children’s programming, this trust carries into adolescence, when the intentions of many media outlets are not nearly as pure. That dangerous precedent is set the moment we first choose to hand our smartphone to our children.
2. We have no appreciation for the value of hard work. There is no better means of instilling respect, responsibility, and work ethic into an individual than to provide him with employment. The wisest man ever to live summarized this in Proverbs 14:23 when he wrote, “all hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
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If this is the case, should we really be requiring food handlers’ licenses from little six-year-olds who are simply looking to use the money they raise to buy a gift for Father’s Day? Does it really make sense to regulate little kids as if they are legitimate competitors to the local Applebee’s?
Consider this account from January of 2015, when two New Jersey high school seniors sought to capitalize on a snow day by soliciting their snow removal services door-to-door. As they walked the neighborhood in search of productive opportunities, an unidentified neighbor contacted the police to alert them of the solicitation. Shortly after receiving the call, the police advised the two students that a license costing upwards of $450 would be required in order to engage in their desired business. Should we really be punishing initiative and productivity in this fashion?
3. We look at discipline as a form of capital punishment. Our culture approaches this instruction with fear. Much of the fear is structural on account of our litigious culture, and this all but eliminates discipline from the public square. For example, numerous stories have surfaced over the past several years in which public school teachers have neglected to intervene while students were actively fighting in class!
Our fear for discipline has become so strong that parents are slowly warming to the idea that local authorities should be consulted prior to pursuing disciplinary measures. Near the end of 2014, a Florida father wanted to paddle his daughters after returning home to find them fighting over the use of a tablet. Mindful of the changing climate and legal ramifications of pursuing this action, however, he chose to call the local sheriff’s office to request that a member of local law enforcement supervise the paddling.
While this father’s intentions were pure, subordinating parental rights to the whims of the state is a slippery slope. Consider the sentiments of a Texas judge tasked with handling a similar case when rendering a decision against a mother who chose to spank her daughter: “You don’t spank children today. In the old days, maybe we got spanked, but there was a different quarrel. You don’t spank children.”
The purpose of discipline is not to punish our children, but to correct them. If we run away from discipline, not only do we run away from correction, but we function as accomplices to their demise. As it is written in Proverbs 19:18, “Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.”
4. We are encouraging our children to leave the house with six-figure debt. Did you know that according to the College Board, the average all-inclusive cost of a college degree from a four-year private institution now exceeds the median home price in 56 of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country? This debt burden is now so heavy that nearly one-in-three adults aged 18-34 now live with their parents, the highest percentage in over 75 years. College is becoming the quickest method of providing our children with all of the anxieties of a mortgage without any of the satisfaction of freedom or advancement.
Considering the financial outlay, one has to imagine the rigorous demands of a college or university-level education pose quite a challenge to the aspiring student. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case. The Heritage Foundation recently found that “the average full-time college student spends only 2.76 hours per day on all education-related activities.” The fact that students can satisfy these academic requirements while allocating almost 90 percent of their typical day to leisurely pursuits is rather telling to the true value of a college diploma.
As a society, we are beginning to place a higher value on a piece of paper than the independence of our children. This is culturally backward.
Thankfully, you can make relatively simple changes to the way that you parent, and it will make a world of difference to your child. While pulling the smartphone away from the grip of your toddler will inevitably cause a tantrum, better now than when it far too late during the advanced stages of adolescence. With respect to discipline, none of us should be afraid to correct our children. I am living proof that a spanked child is a loved child. Educate your community on the value of work and the catastrophic consequences of suppressing work ethic in your children. And with respect to a college education, do your research. Higher education is far different now from the days we used to roam our campus halls.
Steadfast Christian parents will produce the generation that can restore our country. We owe this to our children.
Michael Abbott is a Christian philosopher, author, and apologist. His articles have appeared on World Net Daily, Daily Caller, and The New Americana. His first book, “Entitled to Slavery: A Blueprint for Breaking the Chains that Threaten American Exceptionalism,” is published by WND Books. Interact with Michael on Facebook @AbbottSpeaks, subscribe to the AbbottSpeaks weekly podcast, or visit www.AbbottSpeaks.com.
Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Halfpoint
Publication date: September 14, 2017