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  Children's Ministry Today    

Today's Featured Article

Society's Attitude Toward Children
                  Gerald Regier




Over the last seventy-five years, our society's attitudes toward children have changed. Some of these changes have been for the better--the emphasis on books, study series, magazines, and even courses on parenting which certainly are helpful. But generally, a negative attitude of society toward children has become increasingly apparent.

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 struggle econom­ically.

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 them.

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.

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