“Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost.” Proverbs 22:6 (The Message)
Why is it that society seems to be quick to blame the mother when problems arise with children? If a child suffers from obesity, the mother is accused of not offering healthy choices, visiting fast food restaurants too often, or not exhibiting will power in her own life, providing a poor role model for her child to follow. If a child fails a subject in school, the mother is looked at as not helping with homework, accused of not reading to her child every night, or not being involved in the PTA or other school programs to help foster that relationship between school and home. If a child gets in trouble with the law, has sex outside of marriage, or participates in any form of illegal activity, the mother’s parenting style is questioned at some point in the discussion.
While I firmly believe that parents, mothers and fathers, have a huge responsibility when it comes to parenting each and every child they have been blessed with, I don’t believe the “blame” or consequences of each child’s decisions rest firmly on his or her parents’ shoulders. As parents, we are held to a high standard. To raise our children to be productive members of society. To teach character traits such as kindness, honesty, integrity, a strong work ethic, and self control to name but a few. And, I also believe that children come into this world helpless, unable to provide for themselves and need a loving, nurturing environment in which to thrive, where their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are consistently met.
All children are born with free will. Even little ones, while helpless in many ways, are in charge of three major aspects of their life: If/when they will eat, sleep, and eliminate. No matter how healthy the food presented is, how quiet and dark the environment is, or how much encouragement is given to eliminate toxins from his or her system, if a child doesn’t want to eat, doesn’t want to sleep, or doesn’t want to use the bathroom, there isn’t anything a parent (or any other caregiver) can do about it. The child is in control.
As a child gets older, the control over activities, food choices, and other important elements of his or her life continues to increase as he or she spends less time under the direct supervision of parents and more time with friends, pursuing passions, or in a learning environment. While parents are responsible for setting a good example from an early age, ultimately the child is responsible for the choices he or she makes.
Come back next time as I continue my thoughts on how falsely blaming the mother for the choices a child makes is just as wrong as falsely blaming God for the pain of this world.
© Cheri Swalwell