Your Child Is Your Neighbor

If you asked me the single-most important insight that has shaped my parenting, it would be this: Children are people.

It’s true that our kids are God-given responsibilities we are to steward. But we will only steward them as we should by remembering that, first and foremost, our children are people we are to treasure. When we treasure our children as our neighbors, we remove from our discipline any hint of condemnation, shame, or contempt. We alter our language to communicate love and value, even when we must speak words of correction. And we replace our prayers of “please fix my frustrating child” with prayers of “please help me to love the little neighbor you have placed in my home, even as you have loved me.”

 

If you asked me the single-most important insight that has shaped my parenting, it would be this: Children are people.

It seems self-evident. Clearly, they have arms, legs, ears, and mouths enough to qualify. But the idea of their personhood goes far beyond just possessing a human body. It goes to the core of their being and speaks to their worth. Children bear the image of God, just like adults. Well, not just like adults—it’s true they are developing physically, emotionally, and spiritually at a different rate than adults, but their intrinsic worth and dignity does not increase or decrease depending on the rate or extent of their development. As Dr. Seuss famously noted, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

If you asked me the single-most misleading statement I’ve heard with regard to parenting, it would be this: The Bible is relatively silent on the topic of parenting.

On the surface, this statement appears true. When we think of “parenting passages” we typically think of those that explicitly mention parents, children, authority, and instruction: Deuteronomy 6, the fifth commandment in Exodus 20, spare the rod and spoil the child, train up a child in the way he should go, children obey your parents in the Lord, and a smattering of other verses. We may even throw in the example of the Prodigal Son or the parenting woes of the patriarchs for good measure. But other than these, few passages mention the parent-child relationship specifically, leading many to conclude that, for the most part, God must leave us to figure out this parenting thing on our own. An understandable conclusion.

Until we remember that children are people.

Because if children are people, then they are also our neighbors. This means that every scriptural imperative that speaks to loving our neighbor as we love ourselves suddenly comes to bear on how we parent. Every command to love preferentially at great cost, with great effort, and with godly wisdom becomes not just a command to love the people in my workplace or the people in my church or the people at my hair salon or the people on my street or the people in the homeless shelter. It becomes a command to love the people under my own roof, no matter how small. If children are people, then our own children are our very closest neighbors. No other neighbor lives closer or needs our self-sacrificing love more.

Suddenly, a great deal of the Bible is not silent at all on the topic of parenting.

Read More

×

Aquila Report iOS and Android smart-phone apps are available Download Now