I just want my child to be happy." Parents say this so often that it has become an accepted explanation for why a child is doing something other than what the parents would have hoped. And, in one sense, it seems straightforward, particularly when we consider the alternative. Do we want our children to be unhappy? Depressed? Discouraged?
How do you learn to think about the long-range implications of issues in a culture that is fixated on the short term? This question kept recurring to me in the midst of very different conversations recently.
The statistics are clearly in my favor. An overwhelming majority of children adopt the religion of their parents. So I shouldn’t worry. It is highly probable that my son Nathanael will grow up in some sense a Christian.
Last year a four-year-old boy named Sean Paddock died in North Carolina after he was struck with a plumbing supply line, then tightly wrapped in blankets. His mother was punishing him for getting out of bed. She was a follower of Michael and Debi Pearl, whose book To Train Up a Child is familiar to many parents in conservative Christian movements.
The cover of Peter Stearns’s book gets your attention. It portrays an iconic mid-20th-century television mother who seems either to be gripped by a migraine or on the threshold of an “I’m losing my mind” scream.