When Parents Don’t Parent


It was inevitable. And the sad thing is, we can expect more of the same.

Saturday I read a column written by Shirlee Smith about a mom who’s 13-month-old baby drowned. Not in a backyard pool, but in the family bathtub. The mom, you see, was in the living room on Facebook.

No, she didn’t claim addiction to social media as the reason she neglected her child. Rather, she explained that the baby “was very independent and wanted to be alone.” So of course, the mother complied and left the infant alone.

Isn’t that what parents are supposed to do — discern the wishes of their children and do whatever it takes to comply? You’d think so by listening to the way some parents talk to their children or by listening to some of the debate Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has spawned.

This book, currently number 2 on the NYT Best Seller list for non-fiction, discusses parenting the Chinese way, making contrasts to a Western parenting style. According to Ms. Chua, the Chinese method means the parents hold children to a high standard. Clearly this means the parents are in charge. The children don’t call the shots. No 13-month-old Chinese baby ordering his parent out of the bathroom because he wants to be alone.

Sadly, though, this Chinese method is full of equally unacceptable treatment:

Lots of verbal abuse, such as calling your kid garbage if he or she screws up … In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the Yale law school professor sets out to explain why she thought the Chinese approach to raising kids was superior to the Western way. And why her rebellious daughter is making her regret some of those choices.
“Chinese Parent Amy Chua Talks Extreme Discipline and Parenting Regrets”

Sadly, in researching for this post, I came across another site that was reporting the purported negative affects of physical discipline on children. Then this interesting item:

Mothers in Thailand were least likely to physically discipline their children, followed by mothers in China, the Philippines, Italy, India, and Kenya, with mothers in Kenya most likely to physically discipline their children.

So according to this list, it would seem that mothers in China are ahead of the game because they don’t spank their children — they tell them, instead, that they are garbage.

Where, oh where, is the Biblical model? Why are we listening to people who abuse their children verbally or those who lead to utter neglect? Why do we think a child can possibly know what is best for him, more so than his parent does?

First, we’ve cut ourselves off from nature. Anyone who watches Animal Kingdom ought to know that mothers of a species teach their young how to be. Apparently humans think we’ve evolved past that. Or something.

Second, we are cut off from God. We don’t take His word for the fact that our tiny little bundles of joy are desperately wicked and if allowed to go their own way without correction will do desperately wicked things. Selfish things. Hurtful things. To themselves and to others.

I bet that poor mother whose baby drowned now realizes this.

Published in: on February 7, 2011 at 6:09 pm  Comments (5)  
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