When we were young, my siblings and I felt that a “Kids’ Day” was missing from the holiday calendar. After all, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were officially recognized, so it made sense to us that children should be celebrated too.
My mother’s droll comeback always was, “Every day is Kids’ Day.”
She meant, of course, that mothers and fathers sacrifice, love, and care for children often at the expense of their own pleasures, plans, and priorities. Most kids are clueless. I certainly was.
As my husband and I raised our own children, we noticed that “Kids’ Days” were becoming very serious business. Remembering our own bike-riding, tree climbing, and butterfly catching childhoods, we were surprised by the intensity and purposeful scheduling of the average kid’s day.
I couldn’t help but compare the activity and accomplishment of my children with that of others. Were we offering our children enough opportunity? Parenting books, advice, and even Bible studies, while genuinely helpful, produced the unintended consequence of increasing my anxiety over the adequacy or inadequacy of my “parenting.”
We weren’t the only ones who noticed this trend. Books and articles on the phenomena of “hurried children,” “hyper-parenting,” and “helicopter parenting” began to make a case for some balance.
Confused, I searched the Bible for some guidance. I learned most from what I did not find. (See What the Bible Does NOT Say about Parenting for a related lesson learned from what I did not find in the Bible.)
I read through Proverbs 31 with an eye toward the famous Proverbs 31 woman’s relationship with her children. After all, her children called her blessed. She must have done something right! (I realize that many scholars believe this passage does not describe a real woman, but a model of wisdom. The following observations apply in either case.)
I found…nothing. The very concept of “parenting” would probably have been laughable to this woman.
Notably absent from the description of the Proverbs 31 woman’s life are the 1000 B.C. equivalents of car pools, soccer games, ballet lessons and other child-centered activity.
Of course, children need help with homework and opportunities to develop skills, learn teamwork and grow in confidence, and wise parents provide those things.
I just have one question.
Do children have as much opportunity to observe their parents live godly, productive, generous lives as their parents spend watching their performances?
In other words, who’s watching whom?
The Proverbs 31 woman loved her family, cared for them and provided for them with all the wisdom and skill she possessed, and they knew it. She was respected and generous in her relationships; she was active in the economy of her community and of her household; she spoke words of wisdom and faithfulness; she was honest, hard-working and humble. Her life was characterized by love, discipline, diligence and the fear of the Lord.
Her children observed all of her noble qualities and they said, effectively, “I want to be just like you some day!”
“Her children arise and call her blessed…” Proverbs 31:28
I’m curious about current trends. If you have school age children, is it a challenge to balance unstructured and scheduled sports, lessons, etc.? What is your philosophy toward free play time and organized activity for children?
If you’re interested in other things the Bible does NOT say, check out these links.