What would you say if someone asked you to do something that you found morally repugnant, and furthermore something that troubled you deeply on an emotional level?
Of course you’d say NO!
But, they argue, by doing this you are performing a service to many of your fellows!
Sorry, no. Right?
And what if the “someone” asking you was your church?
And no, we’re not talking about a weird cult. We’re talking about…
As part of this service to our church body, I am expected to (on a regular basis) peel a child off their mother and hold them, kicking and screaming, while she leaves.
I don’t want to be the instrument of pain to that child. I wouldn’t hit or push or pinch a child and make them cry, for goodness’ sake. It ties my stomach in knots when they wail and desperately cling onto their mama, and I’m supposed to yank them away and restrain them.
And furthermore, I fundamentally believe that that is a very wrong thing to do, even if you aren’t personally as squeamish about it as I am. I believe that it is potentially damaging to little psyches, who learn that mama and papa don’t respond if they’re upset, can’t be relied upon to be there for them, and generally don’t care.
I know that society today consoles itself with the idea that children “need to learn how to be independent”. Techniques such as this have been popularized along with “cry it out”, sleeping alone, and the like. Historically, however, this is not how human babies have been nurtured, and even modern science reveals some startling evidence for attached parenting (check out Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping by Dr. James McKenna – a MUST READ for every parent!).
As I’m sure you realize, there are a lot of Bible verses on parenting… Like here, in the Old Testament, straight from the heart of the Shema:
And thou shalt teach them [Laws] diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
- Deuteronomy 6:7
But nowhere in the Bible do I find parents called to turn over the responsibility for their children to someone else. Nowhere is there a Proverb about how to get rid of the kids and get some “quality time” to yourself.
In fact, in the New Testament we find this:
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
- Ephesians 6:4
Which clearly, to me, says that – at least sometimes – people need to engage in that “parenting in the pew” rather than leaving hysterical children in the care of someone else.
The nurture of the Lord.
Isn’t that a beautiful picture?
When you call out in need – “Abba, Father!” is it your expectation, or even your fear, that God will shove you off His leg and run out of the room, so that He can go attend a worship service?
That’s not a pretty picture!
Children grow up. They just do.
They develop independece in their own good time, as God designed them.
I would like at this time, as a bit of anecdotal evidence, to refer you to my post A Little Validation on our Life on the Road family blog. In part, I observed:
I have been delighted lately to have had not one but several women who teach Jewel’s age group make a point of coming up and talking to me about her.
- “She’s always so happy!”
- “She’s an eager participant, and a delight to have in class!”
- “She never cries and makes a fuss when you drop her off.”
What a joy!
Of course, I’m not shy in pointing out that the reason she is so secure as a 4 year-old is because I made her feel secure as a 1 year-old, 2 year-old, and 3 year-old by never forcing her to stay alone in the nursery. She has a secure base from which to explore the world at her own pace, and trusts that I will always be there if there was a problem.
Which brings me back to my dilema of being an enabler of this poor treatment of children, by volunteering in the nursery.
On top of all of that, having my own child(ren) present means that they are witnessing this drama, and – beyond the inevitable upset that starts all the children chain-reaction crying – they are learning the obvious lesson that such behavior is acceptable, normal, and approved-of by me.
That’s not the way I treat my children, and it’s not the way I want them to treat my grandchildren.
So for their sake as well as mine, I need to
Just Say No!