Quick Links
Daily Devotionals

eGame Reviews

Ministry Job Openings

PodCasts

Play Sudoku

Online Flash Games

Movie Reviews

Today's News

Keys For Kids

Down Gilead Lane

Daily Bible Story

Daily Bible Quiz

Watch TBN Digital TV

Stories You Can Use

DigiTracts

Send A Prayer Card

Joke of the Day

Puppet Directory

Gospel Magic Tricks

Valuable Resources
Puppets & Puppet Stuff
Gospel Magic
Balloons
Trick Cartooning
Music
Clowning / Juggling

On CMT's  .com Site

Your Favorite Places
Outlet Mall
Inspiration Vault
C. P. Network
C. M. Job Openings

Searching?
Find It Here!
  Children's Ministry Today    
 

Today's Featured Article

What Children Can't Do For You
                  Dennis Guernsey

 

Once upon a time children had a function other than just being there. They could help you run the family business. They could help you plow the field. They could look after a share of the cooking and mending and washing. In those days children were not an economic drain. In fact, in most cases they were an economic advantage.

Unfortunately, much of what children used to be able to do, they can't do in our society. Most parents don't own their own small businesses or live on farms. Children have to be in school most of the time anyway. People are having fewer children nowadays--or no children at all--because they can't afford large families. It is clear that nowadays children cannot increase a family's economic assets.

That's only one thing children can't do for a family. And yet every day, children are born to parents who want them for the wrong reasons. Unrealistically, these parents expect their children to increase the family's emotional assets. When the children fail to provide for their parents' emotional needs--as the children certainly will do--the family's interpersonal relationships are headed straight for disaster.

Children cannot heal a troubled marriage. In fact, they are extremely unlikely to make even a good marriage better. Research conclusions are clear: children are hard on marriage. When children arrive, marital satisfaction goes down.

It's not the children's fault, but their birth puts their parents in a difficult position. Our culture does a poor job of preparing people to be parents. People used to live close to their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and childhood friends. In the atmosphere of the extended family, they learned how to relate to and raise a small child. They had contact with other adults all through their early months of parenting. And when pressures got too great, they could ask relatives to watch the child while they did something else for a while.

Today, new parents are practically on their own. Before they got married the may have had premarital counseling, but apart from the hospital's childbirth class, they probably had no premarital counseling. Our society seems to assume that if people are able to make babies, they're ready to be parents--but that's not true. Being able to make them doesn't mean being able to grow them.

New parents suddenly find family relationships becoming complicated. It used to be just the two adults. Now there's a whole web of new relationships: child-mother, child-father, and child-marriage in addition to husband and wife. Where there used to be just one relationship, now there are four--and the second child more than doubles that number.

Now, if you take two inexperienced adults and give them a task for which they are not prepared, making sure they have little or no assistance in performing that task, and complicating their family relationships at the same timeódo you think you are going to improve their marriage? Not a chance! It's not surprising that parents report a decrease in marital satisfaction during their child raising years. What's surprising is the number of families who make it, who come out strong and healthy and happy in spite of the difficulties they have had to face.

Children are not able to help a troubled marriage. A strong marriage, though, has the resources needed to cope with children's assaults. It can provide those children a solid foundation and prepare them to be the kind of people that will bring their parents satisfaction and joy through the years.

Children cannot repair emotional damage the parents have sustained in the past. People who felt unconnected, as if nobody cared for them, when they were children, may expect their own children to fill that void. Surely a child will be connected to them. Won't the child be able to heal those past hurts and make the parents feel connected and cared for?

No. If I felt damaged as a child, if I had a bad relationship with one or both of my parents, the coming of my child cannot repair that damage. In fact, I am likely to repeat my parents' mistakes as I raise my child-or to veer to the opposite extreme, which can be just as bad.

I was recently talking with a mother who was distressed because her ten-year-old daughter refuses to keep her room clean. After she had described her problem in great detail, I asked, "What's really at stake here?"  She said, "I think the problem is that we're angry with each other all the time. We can't seem to be friends.  "Why do you need to be her friend?" I asked.

She told me that when she was a child, her parents were angry with her all the time. She had always thought that when she had children, she would be closer to them. That closeness, she expected, would fill up the hole made by her own childhood.

But that expectation is translated into a demand on the child. It doesn't give the child freedom just to be who she is. Any problem with the child triggers the mother's frustration that somehow the child is not meeting her needs. In this case, that frustration turned into fighting over whether or not the child would pick up her clothes before watching TV.

Prospective parents need to find healing for their inner hurts before deciding to have children. If the children are already here, the job may be harder--but it is even more necessary. We have to face the damage in ourselves, the hurts and frustrations we carry around with us, or we will pass that damage on from generation to generation. If people are unwilling or unable to face up to and deal with their own needs, they should never have children. Children are not psychotherapists.

Strong individuals, however, who are more interested in giving to their children than in receiving from them, will reap rich emotional satisfaction from the young lives developing in their homes.

Marriage is always difficult. Having children makes it even more difficult. Parenthood is a task for the emotionally strong-- people who do not expect their children to transform them.

  
 
Web www.childrensministry.org

 

 

 


 

Children's Ministry Today Home  |  Children's Ministry Outlet Mall  |  Your Favorite Places
Children's Ministry Inspiration Vault  |  Children's Pastors' Network  |  Children's Ministry Jobs
Children's Ministry Blog  |  Gospel Magic Tricks  |  Puppet Directory

© Copyright Children's Ministry Today 2006.  All Rights Reserved.