Two excellent essays on children

I just happened (as God would have it) to bounce from a friend’s blogsite to the website of The Institute of Religion and Public Life and, in particular, to this article: The Demographic Winter and the Barren Left. It is an excellent article, both in terms of revealing the tendency of liberal writers to skew the truth, and in terms of a proper view towards rearing children.

I also read an excellent essay last week, written by R.C. Sproul, Jr., on the subject of child-rearing. It arrived via my email inbox, and is from the March 8, 2008 edition of his electronic newsletter, Kingdom Notes. In that essay, he introduces us to a wonderful family with 12 children. Now, before you call them insane, as would be common in our society, I’d invite you to read the entire article. Particularly, as he muses about the differences between well-behaved children from large families, and selfish children from the “average” home in America. Now, I recognize people will have only as many children as God gives them, but some people make a conscious choice because of an attitude toward children.

Since I was unable to link to the article, I called the Highlands Study Center to ask express permission to copy it here on the blog. My thanks to the good folks at HSC and to Brother Sproul, in particular, for their graciousness.

Blessing Upon Blessing

R.C. Sproul Jr.

My friends Dan and Kimberly Smythe have a new son, Simeon Jedidiah. Born at a whopping 9 pounds 13 ounces, he is a welcome addition to what is already a prodigiously productive family. He is Smythe child number twelve. It goes without saying that both the world, and that which is of the world finds this to be loony. What surprises me is how often we miss some fairly obvious corollaries. While the Sprouls have not yet been blessed with twelve children, we do have seven. And we have been known to take them out in public. We get plenty of delightful and encouraging responses. We get precious few negative comments. But we get most often some variation on this theme: “Wow, seven kids? I can’t keep my sanity with only two.” Why is it, I wonder, that so many large families, like my own, are eager for more children, while so many small families regret the ones they already have? My guess is pretty simple- could it be the children themselves?

Is it just possible that there is a relationship between wanting children, and having want-able children? If you’ve ever met the Smythes, you’d understand the positive side of this equation. Each one of their children is a delight. I probably get more excited than my own children about opportunities to see these children, and my children kind of dig them too. What’s not to love about these joyful, diligent, fun as a satchel full of really fun things, children? Who wouldn’t want more of those?

On the other hand, I’ve seen the children of the complainers. They tend to be not just noisy and therefore annoying, but they are likewise, more often than not, sullen and ungrateful. Which makes perfect sense. What child would be grateful about being born into a family that is not grateful for the child? And what parent would be grateful for sullen, ungrateful and uncontrollable children?

How do we break that cycle? Someone has to love first, and it seems that God’s pattern is that it’s the parents. Simeon Smythe will not, for some time, be as obedient, quiet and fun as his older siblings. For some time he will be noisy and demanding. But Dan, Kimberly and the children will love him nevertheless. They will die to their own desires. They will make sacrifices for the little guy. They will hug and kiss and feed and change him. And he will become like them.

Selfish parents beget selfish children. Giving, joyful parents beget giving, joyful children. No one likes living in the former house. Everyone is eager to spend time with the latter crowd. If you want to make your house a place that people want to be, first you must want the people to be there. Love them, and they will by God’s grace become lovely. The Smythes are exhibit A.

–quoted, with permission, from the March 8, 2008 edition of Kingdom Notes by R.C. Sproul, Jr., (c2008, The Highlands Study Center, http://www.highlandsstudycenter.org/)

Well said.

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