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On Banishing Iniquity From Children

School is thought to be a wonderful place, a veritable paradise for those of pure heart. Any child who truly wants to learn will find himself presented with eminently valuable opportunities. The children who do not thrive are losers who rebel against learning and thought. The virtuous children may suffer some at the hands of bullies, but it is a small price to pay for the growth available.

Childhood is thought to be a whirlwind of fun, personal development, and curiosity. Children have so many great activities to participate in, so many chances to bloom and build character, so much help and guidance, and such rich lives. And they have plenty of time to relax and enjoy it because they don't have to work and are free of responsibilities and burdens. It is a great blessing, and life is never the same again after work begins, and especially not after having children. Sometimes lazy children are tempted by sins like excessive television or marathon video game sessions, but as long as their parents do their duty, there is no danger. Being negligent would be a great disservice to those children.

Teachers are thought to be saints, famous for inspiring the best in children. They are kind and motivated. A few are lazy, and that is unfortunate and regrettable, but on balance unimportant. Teachers offer personal advice and help as appropriate, and always have something interesting or important to teach. Any child who has faith and puts his life in their hands will be well served and, when he enters adulthood on his own, will be well prepared to flourish.

The Bible teaches us that to spare the rod is to spoil the child, and promises that everyone will live happily ever after once vice is beaten out of children. Even the non-religious among us see that that is exactly right. Schools never discipline children of good character. But to leave a lazy, uncurious child to his own devices would be utterly irresponsible.

Parents take the Bible's teachings to heart, too. They love their children, and try to help them as much as they can in good conscience. But when their children refuse to listen to reason and persist in immoral actions, they must, for their own good, be saved from themselves and disciplined. Today parents have found new and more humane ways of disciplining children that don't even really hurt, like time outs and letting babies cry themselves to sleep and natural consequences.

The general model is the parent helping the child see the truths (including moral truths) that the parent knows. It is thought that the parent knows best, and that parents should take appropriate steps to make sure child understands. The parent should be as nice as humanly possible, but failing to impart critical moral knowledge, by any means necessary, would be gross negligence. No where does this formula give attention to the possibility of parental error. It is thus a recipe for entrenching mistakes forever.

Elliot Temple on January 2, 2006


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