Super Nanny And Moral Instruction

One way the Christian worldview differs from many other perspectives is in the area of human nature. In today’s humanistic Western culture, Mankind is viewed as good. It is society that teaches individuals to do wrong things. As a corollary, we say children are innocent and their reactions, pure.

On another site, in a tangential discussion to yesterday’s post, “Thoughts On President Obama’s Evolving View Of Marriage,” one commenter, in support of this idea, made the point that small children have a natural aversion to seeing a dog mistreated.

I’m not convinced. I’ve seen too many children pull a dog’s tail, sit on his back, bounce up and down, and grab hold of his ears.

There isn’t something innate that tells a child when he’s hurting someone or something. He does what he wants because he wants it. We are born with a selfish nature that puts us over God. We are prideful. We want to rule and we want to take.

God has ordained parents to teach children His moral standard.

You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:7-9)

Throughout Scripture — in books of the Law, poetry, and the epistles — parents are admonished to teach their children the way of the Lord. Here’s a sampling:

For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice (Genesis 18:19a)

We will not conceal them from their children,
But tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. (Psalm 78:4)

Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Pro. 22:6)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)

How far Western culture has come from this idea that parents are to teach, train, instruct their children.

A few years ago there was a TV program called Super Nanny. A British woman who served as a nanny would go into homes with unruly children and teach the mom and dad parenting skills. I have to admit, it was fascinating and horrifying.

Horrifying because of the way some parents let their children rule their home. They would throw things, hit each other, sometimes hit and curse at their parents, and too often they received no correction. Sometimes the correction was inconsistent, sometimes accompanied with empty threats. And the children learned little by little that they were in charge.

The fascinating part of the show was to watch the transformation, first of the parents, then of the children. Some of the adults really struggled with the idea that they could and should tell their children what to do rather than letting them have free rein (or is that reign? 😉 ). Some felt as if it wasn’t loving to tell them what to do. Some feared their children’s anger and were sure they would lose their love forever.

How shocked they were when the techniques Super Nanny taught actually began to bring a change in behavior — the children became happier, more loving, and obedient people, all because someone instructed them and corrected them.

The writer to the Hebrews elaborates on the discipline of parents as a way for us to understand the discipline of God.

God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. (Hebrews 12:7b-10)

Parental discipline as an extension of love is almost treated as a given in this passage. Today’s phenomenon of letting children figure out their own moral standards would have been unheard of in that day.

The ironic thing is that in our culture children most often want to follow after others outside the home in making their moral choices — the very thing today’s philosophy believes is tainted (children are good; society is the problem). You don’t hear kids saying, I thought about this and have come to the conclusion that this is right. No, their argument to their parent is still, But Mom, everyone else is doing it.

I was fortunate to have parents that answered that argument with the proverbial, If everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you follow?

Today we have parents who answer, Well, if everyone is doing it, then I certainly don’t want you to feel left out, so sure, I’ll change my attitude. I’ll let my moral beliefs evolve. After all, there is no authoritative right and wrong.

I can picture God’s response: Really?

3 Comments

  1. I wish my boss would read this! (he’d be offended by Super Nanny correcting HIS free “reign” method)

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  2. Although I have to admit that, because I think children are absolutely innocent at birth and that the sin nature is a result of them figuring out quickly that we are suspicious of them for some unknown, but tantalizing reason, I think true culture of conscience evolving from that innocence is about as likely as spontaneous generation, or a Godless evolution of our highly specialized, complex, abundantly creative and sophisticated series of systems in the universe (s?) I am so sorry about the gobbledegook–I’m just in a hurry.

    I was thinking the other day how important it was, to my understanding of God, for my father to explain the importance of a certain desired obedience, the consequences of non-obedience, and to follow through with discipline and then hug me, afterward. At first, of course, I didn’t want the hug. It seemed contrary to what he had just done. But there was no one else to turn to, for comfort, and that was priceless for my future spiritual understanding.

    Although I grew up in a Christian home, I looked about me and read about all sorts of religions. None of them held a candle to compare, even slightly, with Christianity! I worried, at first, that it was just because of my up-bringing, but logic came to my rescue, and I have never seriously considered anything else, since. There came a snowy day, when I had just learned how to drive on snow, in which I drove, in the mountains, for the first time, and the lights went out in the vehicle.
    There was no one else to turn to, and He led me home. What a Light!

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  3. “I was fortunate to have parents that answered that argument with the proverbial, If everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you follow?”

    Wow! My parents too a completely different approach. They always said if X put their head in a gas oven would you do the same.

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