An Anabaptist Resource for Teaching and Learning
We long for children who will live to their full potential as God created them, who amount to something, so that they can be people we’re proud of and that God will be pleased with.
My vision is a young adult who has a clear-eyed sense of purpose, who takes seriously his contribution to the Kingdom. This young person is humble, responsible, and longs to serve. I want to talk about this more in part II.
How is this kind of person developed? It takes enormous investment, mostly by the parents, but also by the entire community. And most importantly, it takes a real conversion, which only happens miraculously through the grace of Christ.
Children Should be Seen and Not Heard
What will this person’s childhood look like? Surprisingly, the conclusion I’ve been coming to is that the primary characteristic for elementary-age children is a posture of listening.
Perhaps we’ve reacted to this. Folks in my community may have memories of a youth group culture that excelled at being silent, that was noted for having nothing to say, that did really well at being good and not much else.
For sure, we do not want THAT. And so we make sure our children have a lot to say, that they are encouraged to express themselves, and that they are not pushed down.
For sure, we do not want them to be pushed down in a disrespectful way!
But is encouraging self-expression at a young age really going to give us godly young adults? Is this going to result in a young person with a clear-eyed sense of purpose, who is humble, responsible, serving?
Children are children. Not having been around the block yet, they have a lot to learn. They have a place, and they find their greatest good by being taught to settle into that place.
Listen to John Rosemond’s comments on how a child reared on this principle would be expected to behave when he entered a room. “He was simply expected to take a seat at the periphery of the conversation and listen, pay attention. No one was going to pretend—for the sake of making him ‘feel good about himself’—that he was socially, emotionally, or intellectually mature enough to participate in an adult conversation. However, if he listened, he would learn!” (Rosemond 329)
Children who listen and know their place will give deference to adults who are speaking. They will not speak over an adult. Instead, they will defer to the adult in conversation.
Children should be able to play and relate to other children in their own space, and allow nearby adults to have their own conversation.
Children should be taught not to interrupt adult conversations. They need to be taught to wait. Wait. Wait. Waiting teaches children something about the place of childhood.
Let’s recover a vision for children who are seen and not heard. This will allow them to be the young adult who has a clear-eyed sense of purpose, who takes seriously his contribution to the kingdom. We’ll pick up this subject in Part II.
Works Cited: Rosemond, John K. Because I Said So!: 366 insightful and thought-provoking reflections on parenting and family life. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1996. Print.
CONTRIBUTOR: Darrell Hershberger
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