This season has provided ample time to spend with our children. For the past two months, parents and children have all been under the same roof with almost constant interaction. What has resulted has been very revealing. As with many areas of life, COVID-19 has exposed what we truly believe. If we’re honest, what we find is not always pretty. One exposed area that has been particularly troubling is our society’s collective view of children.
A Cultural View of Children
A quick sampling of Facebook posts, parody videos, and even casual conversations lead me to believe that many parents are decidedly not enjoying time with their children. Their tone when discussing this season conveys irritation, frustration, and the overall sentiment that they can’t wait until all this is over and they can have some time away from their children. Even among those who genuinely love their children, it is fair game, and often expected, that the answer to the question “How are you doing?” is a joke at their children’s expense. If parents had an emoji for this season, it would be the eye roll.
Let’s be clear: Parenting brings challenges. And challenges chafe against our fleshly desires for unobstructed comfort and ease. It makes complete sense that there would be a strong temptation to turn against our kids now that our kids are threatening our idols. But for people who love God and his Word, this is the time to recognize that the Bible paints a very different view of children and parenting.
A Biblical View of Children
The word that best summarizes a biblical view of children and parenting is “blessing.” Let’s look at two notable examples of this from Psalms:
- “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” (Ps.127:3-5).
- “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord” (Ps. 128:3-4).
These two psalms describe children as a gift from God and family life as a blessed experience. For this reason, parents dedicating their children at College Park Church promise to “recognize these children as gifts of God and give heartfelt thanks for God’s blessing.”
Yet, this season is exposing just how radical it is to believe our children are blessings and to actually say so. As Christians, we should value our children as highly as God does. In this season especially, we have an opportunity to shine brightly if we intentionally treat our children biblically by representing them well and thanking God for them.
Representing Your Children Well
Why is it that we are comfortable talking about our children in a way that we would never (hopefully) talk about a spouse, a friend, or even an acquaintance? Sometimes, I fear that we do not hold the same standard for speech about children as we do for speech about adults. It seems that we have decided gossip does not count if we are talking about our own children. Which is why we will freely share our children’s sins with others simply for a laugh.
This kind of talk disregards the personhood of our children. Your child is a person, one made in the image of God, and not a lesser being. Your child is eternal and, we hope, will someday join you as a brother or sister in Christ. So, let’s treat our children the way Scripture commands us to treat any other person, and let’s grieve their sin and help instruct their hearts rather than make their sin a punchline.
So, how do we represent our children well? It starts with being intentional about representing them well. For instance, we can focus on what we love about them instead of ways they are struggling (Eph. 4:29). We can protect them by avoiding stories that would shame or embarrass them (Titus 3:2).
Does this mean we need to pretend that today wasn’t crazy? Absolutely not. Parenting is challenging. But the challenge does not legitimize defaming the image of God in our children. Let’s laugh at the hilarity of family life, but as ones who are genuinely joyous at the blessing God has given us.
Thank God for Your Children
Are we thankful for the opportunity to parent an immortal soul? Are we awestruck that God would entrust us with such impactful stewardship, one with eternal consequences? This will come out in our thanks to God for that undeserved responsibility (1 Thess. 5:18). When we treat our parenting lightly by demeaning our children, we convey thanklessness to a watching world.
What if we used our platform to express our heartfelt gratitude for the blessing of our children? Given the current climate, a social media post thanking God for our children or a simple unwillingness to join in complaining about our children in conversation will stand out.
Again, this does not mean denying the challenges of parenting. For some, choosing to only talk about the good amounts to being “fake.” But while it is not wrong to lament the challenges of the season, our challenges do not give us a license to sin against our children in the name of being “real.” When we decide to obey God and love sinners, we follow the most “real” person ever: Jesus. And in doing so, we give a picture of the gospel, that God loves the unlovely, and he likes it too.
How You Talk About Your Children Displays the Gospel
Christian brothers and sisters, let’s check our hearts, our words, and our social media posts to make sure we are recognizing and conveying that children are truly a gift from the Lord. This season has effectively exposed our idols, and many of us are seeing what comes out of us when our comfort is threatened. For this very reason, Christians have a tremendous opportunity to show how the gospel changes parenting, and the differences will be stark.
If we treat this extra time with our children as torturous, we will reveal where our treasure truly is and thus look no different than the rest of the world. But if we joyfully thank God for the extra time we have received to shepherd souls God loves, then we proclaim to a watching world the worthiness of Christ, who loved us when we were unlovely.