Why do we do what we do? This is a question that we ought to ask ourselves regularly. We should consider it especially as we invest these two decades of our lives raising our progeny from helpless infants to independent adults. Why do we take them to the pool, to the field, to scouts, dancing, or to church? Why do we make them weed the garden, fold their clothes, unload the dishwasher? Why do we make them study their Latin, apologize to a sibling, say “Yes, Ma’am” instead of “yeah,” or help a needy neighbor? Why do we do it? What is our end goal in all of it?
Do we even have an end goal? If you haven’t spent the time to get philosophical about your parenting, let me encourage you to do so. By that I mean take the time to ask yourself if you could vindicate the use of your time and resources when you stand before God and give an account. Are you thoughtful in the decisions you make regarding the activities, expectations, and experiences you choose for your children? With complete, total, and transparent honesty, we ought to evaluate those decisions.
A few years ago I watched The Odd Life of Timothy Green, a terribly sentimental film about a young couple who were unable to have children. They were visited by a very mysterious and strange boy who fit all the characteristics of their dream child. The couple quickly learned many difficult lessons about parenting. In the end we realize that having a child often teaches us most about ourselves and the quality of our own character. The parents in the movie spend a lot of time saying they won’t be “those kind” of parents and then quickly become “those kind” of parents. Like so many parents, they easily point out the faults of others before learning how hard (and painful) it is to avoid those faults. I don’t recall if the parents ever suggested why they wanted a child (perhaps because the desire is universally self evident). I don’t recall if the parents ever stated why they wanted their child to play soccer, draw, or play music. I don’t think they spent much time asking the big questions and as a result got caught up in the little things. They just did what every other young hip suburban family does. In the real world we need to ask WHY?
While the film was decent, the moral lessons could only go so far and remained far from ultimate truth. I am certain they never said they wanted to glorify God in their parenting or raise a child that would glorify God. Never-the-less, that is the exact answer Scripture requires from us. We must often ask ourselves “WHY?” in order to stay focused on our chief end.
Why do we do this or that? Is “making our children happy” our best goal? Is our goal in all these activities to help them get a good job or be a contributing member of society? These are good goals, but they are still not ultimate. If you go to scripture and come to the conclusion that our chief end is to know the Father through His Son Jesus Christ you will come to a different end goal. If we say with our forefathers, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever,” our decisions about our parenting will look very different than the decisions of our neighbors. Furthermore, we must also be prepared to stop and give more of an answer than a simple “For the Glory of God.” We ought to be able to at least suggest a sketchy plan for achieving that goal in the plans we have for our kids. If we really mean to live and raise our kids for the Glory of God, we ought to be diligently testing our actions and activities by that standard.
Parenting is hard work, be sure you give it some thought. We were created to serve and have fellowship with the Almighty. It is hard work but we can be assured that Christ will aid us in that work! If you wonder why Bradford does some of the things we do, you can read through the philosophy and vision sections of the website and handbook. Better yet, you could read Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, by Douglas Wilson. We only get one shot at this!