The culture pushes us to be soft parents. We don’t want to demand too much of our children. We don’t want them to grow up too quickly. We want to preserve their childhood. We want to shield them from pain. But the reality is that we are often guilty of coddling them – and stunting their growth and maturity. The aversion to discipline and hardship is being noticed even by secular sociologists who have decried the impact of “helicopter parents” who hover over their children and shield them from all adversity.
I was challenged recently by the words of the prophet Jeremiah who said, “It is a good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.” (Lamentations 3:27). A yoke is a symbol of work. The oxen would yoked to plow the fields. In other words, it is good for children to struggle with hard things. It is good for our kids to have to work hard. It is good for them to have to stick with a task – even when it is difficult. It is good for them to grow up learning to serve others – even when they don’t feel like it.
My family moved during the summer of 1987. We didn’t move far but we moved into a serious fixer-upper. It was the summer following my sophomore year of high school. I had my license and I had big plans for that summer. And suddenly all those plans were cancelled. My dad left me a list of tasks to be accomplished on the house each day while he was away at work. It was a rough. But looking back, I realize that it was good for me to bear the yoke while I was young. I learned a lot of skills that summer. I learned a lot about how life works. I learned the fulfillment of seeing a job through to completion.
Are we helping our kids bear the yoke? Are we moving our kids toward greater maturity and responsibility? Are we helping them to grow up? Are we allowing them to struggle?
Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/helicopter-chopper-aviation-802010/