Do any of us really think of the messages we're sending our children? Target has now joined ranks with other stores in producing commecials aimed at telling our children that we don't want them around. Yes, I'm referring to back to school commercials - like the one from one of the office supply stores that shows a father gleefully skipping and riding a shopping cart through the store, tossing around school supplies to the tune of The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. The newest Target ad was talking about a women being able to get back to her routine, which, of course, included being able to save money at Target, now that her child was back in school. It hinted at her being able to be more stress free. She could get things to give herself a facial, and indulge in a little "color therapy". (Don't even get me started on the irresponsibility of encouraging women to view shopping as therapeudic. It should always be viewed as a necessary evil - but I digress.) The close of the commercial assures us that all will again be well with her life now that things have returned to normal. I kid you not, they actually used the term, back to normal.
So lets see what message we are sending to our children. The biggie of course would be that my life cannot be "normal" unless you are spending 8-10 hrs a day away from me. But the others would be; I can get back to my routine once you are away from me. I can relax and give myself a facial (because heavens knows you can't wash your face with a child at home). And, of course, I can't receive my necessary (weekly?) dose of 'color therapy' unless you are somewhere else. Hmmmm - there seems to be an awful lot of I's in there, but, once again, I digress.
This is just one example of the way we show children we don't really want them around. One of the things I found disturbing about attending 'regular' church (we go to a family integrated church now) was the conversations that went on among the women. I couldn't tell you how many times I listened to women complaining about their children. I would hear them make comments, while dropping their child(ren) off in the nursery, about them (the kids) being their (the workers) problem now. Or saying that they just can't concentrate on the service with the kids there. And several times, during mid-week services, I heard mothers rejoicing over the fact that the kids were going to Grandma's for the weekend. Ohhhh, they were sooooo going to enjoy the weekend now! Ohhhh, how I got to where I hated hearing that kind of sentiment being expressed. One of the first times I heard it (we didn't always attend 'regular' church) I went to my girls later and appologized for ever having said that I would really enjoy a weekend they were going to spend with my mother. The girls assured me they could never recall me saying anything thing like that (thank you Lord!), and that, while they knew I did enjoy the time of rest I would get when they were gone, they never felt as though I didn't want them around (again - thank you Lord!). It's not really bad to show that you will enjoy some quiet time, especially if your spending time with your spouse, because it's good for your children to see you enjoy special, one on one time with their father. But, the constant griping and complaning, and continually expressing a desire to do things without your kids, or conversely, complaining about having to do things with your children around is damaging. And yes, I know this doesn't just happen at church. I once had a aunt that walked into every family dinner complaining about her children. Literally, from the moment she arrived, she complained about her sons. I always felt incredibly sorry for them. It's just that #1, as christians, we should see children as a blessing, not a burden (and if you can't enjoy them because of their behavior, then do something about it); and #2, for the most part, you'll see church members much more frequently that you will extended family. The damage from this type of behavior is not just limited to your own children either. The example this sets for younger women is inexcusably bad, and in direct violation to scripture. As the sidebar of my blog shows, the older women are to show the younger ones how to love their children. We should show them the example of enjoying time with our children.
We should strive to constantly remember how the things we say could potentially be interpreted by our children. I never want mine to think I don't like being around them. Our world is rife with examples in everyday life about how children are a burden. From politicians espousing the belief that we should limit family size during these 'trying economic times', because of the potential financial burden children will bring (please - a little logic here people - if you have children you will evariably boost the economy to some degree, because you have to buy a certain amount of stuff for them), to, as we've discussed, advertising that will assure us that we will be much better off once someone else has the apparently unenviable task of spending the day with your kids.
As christians, it is our responsibility to show the world a different example. A biblical example. We should be showing everyone exactly how wonderful it can be to have and spend great quantities time with our children. We are to invest our time willingly in the children God has entrusted to us. They did not ask for you to have them - you did that on your own, and, while I don't really believe children have a lot of "rights", the one I think they should (but too often don't) have is the right to have parents dedicated to raising them in the way God would have them to. Being willing to sacrifice everything (including those 2 new SUV's) so that you can devote your time to them, because that is what they need the most.