Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bringing Up Children

You may have seen news reports of Amy Chua’s book on parenting, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In it, she advocates her exacting style of Chinese parenting—as opposed to the “coddling” style of western parents.

This has drawn a storm of criticism for the strict achievement orientation of her methods. However, most of us are aware of the superior achievement of oriental children over western, particularly North American children.

With the birth of our latest grandchild, and a couple of great grandchildren, their parents have opted to raise their children according to “Babywise” principles, which advocate a more regimented regime than most North American ideas.

But we have noted debate over even this attempt at regulating a child’s growing environment, many preferring much latitude in children’s expression and choices. So the question arises, where can we obtain the best direction for raising our children?

Well, Ann and I are well past that stage of life, and look back on our experience with mixed emotions. While we are proud of our three daughters, their faith and attitude to life, it is mixed with regret at the failures and stupid decisions we made. We can all do better!

If there is any consolation from our experience, it is that, if we get it right most of the time, our kids will probably do OK. They are very adaptable, and can do well in spite of, as well as because of us. But that doesn’t answer the question.

If we trust God for direction of our lives, then His Word should provide at least general guidance for raising children, and the best guide is His requirement of us. He sets out the optimum behaviour to obtain the best from life. How does He ensure this?

If we ignore his directions, we will suffer the natural outcomes. As the adage of my childhood said: “Feet in the puddles means colds in the head.” Beyond that, there is the threat of punishment if we reject His law. It’s called justice.

Fortunately for us, God’s justice is administered with mercy. Perhaps beyond creating guidelines for our children, managing that balance in directing our children is the most difficult.

I found that most times the penalty for infraction was needed. But sometimes, it could be called off after appropriate penitence. That process reflects not only God’s justice, but also the nature of His salvation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Faith: Personal or Political

Last week’s shootings of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords and the bombing of Coptic Christians in Egypt, highlight ongoing attempts to impose personal beliefs or views on the rest of the world.

While we condemn these ruthless, savage attacks, I fear more the motivation behind them to destroy freedom to believe as we choose. As Christians, we loathe attempts to silence our beliefs, but most of us do little about it.

Perhaps we feel safe in our western environment, but the Giffords’ shooting makes us all vulnerable, possibly to violence, but more likely, to political action that limits our freedom of belief. But we must recognize that any freedom to believe extends to other faiths.

Muslims, accustomed to laws that support their faith, loudly seek similar safeguards in their adopted western countries. We may oppose some of their demands, but they can teach us much about legitimate expression our faith needs.

In contrast, most Christians shun political involvement. We tend to interpret, “Render unto Caesar” and “render unto God,” as counsel to keep faith and politics separate. But serious faith leads to actions, and actions are always political.

Jesus became such a threat to the ruling establishment they crucified Him. The past week’s violent actions show the same determination of those who hate our freedom. They want to silence us, and most Christians willingly oblige.