1. Society does not value
children economically. Much of our public policy penalizes
families. For instance, inflation has eroded the personal and
dependent income tax exemption which was $600 in 1948 and is now
$1,040. One economist estimates that if the tax exemption for
dependents had kept up with inflation, we would now be able to
deduct $5,000 a year for each dependent. Now we know why families
Nobody said, "Let's
devalue children"; this policy developed slowly and silently.
But the result is that tax policy promoted a social policy which
does not value children. Parents view children as an economic
drain. "We can't afford to have children" is heard more
and more. And people who choose to become parents often find
themselves under heavy economic pressure. Public policy should
encourage families to rear productive citizens, not penalize
2. Society does not favor
large families. Because of their concern for
overpopulation, many people are critical of people who choose to
have large families. Thirty years ago, six or seven children
were considered a large family; now three or four children are a
large family. As family size has decreased, society has become
adult-centered rather than child-centered. Houses are smaller;
many towns are cutting back on educational and child services;
and some housing developments even exclude families with children.
3. Society trusts the
"experts," not the parents. So much information
telling the "right" way to parent is available to young
parents that they begin to doubt their natural instincts. New
parents often live away from the extended family, and this
increases the problem. In an extended family, grandparents show
parents how to take care of children.
To counteract society's
negative attitude toward children, we need to make parenting
decisions based on God's values, not society's values. We need to
remember that children are "a heritage from the Lord"
(Ps. 127:3). Although we should be knowledgeable in the
"how-to" part of parenting, we need to follow the
guidance of the Holy Spirit in raising our children; and we need
to support one another in the church and in our neighborhoods in
our parenting capacity.
The rewards of Christian
parenting are not in the momentary pleasures sought by so many in
our society, but in the privilege of passing on God's love to our
children and our children's children, and the privilege of
producing godly children who will be productive and creative
citizens in society.
My own grandfather illustrates this well. At
thirty-five, he came to know the Lord in a little rural church in
Oklahoma. He then decided that following Christ meant a change in
lifestyle and priorities. He shut down the homemade whisky still,
and said to the family, "We're going to follow the
Lord." At his funeral almost sixty years later, all of his
six children and twenty grandchildren were following the Lord. He
left a godly heritage which can be a blessing to society rather
than a drain on society.