Editors commentary: Too much of a good thing?

A GP friend was finishing a home visit.

He had been examining a middle-aged woman and was just putting his stethoscope away. Having noticed her smile and wanting to find a pleasant word as he departed, he commented: ‘What lovely teeth you have’. Nothing could have prepared him for the response. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘they were my mothers’! The winning smile turned out to be composed of a china set from years gone by, which just happened to fit perfectly. Not everything that looks good is all it seems to be!

For many years now there has been a self-satisfied smirk from anti-smacking pressure groups against those of us who believe, as the Bible tells us, that a ‘potch’ (Yiddish for a mild but suitably painful slap on the backside, delivered out of love and concern) ought to be among a parent’s options in disciplining our children. ‘Positive parenting’, which eschews all such techniques and beamingly suggests that children only ever need encouragement, is made out to be so right and the use of a smack met with a supercilious ‘we don’t do violence in our house’. Even Christian parents have bought into this seemingly ‘more loving’ way of doing things. However, the smile is beginning to prove false for ‘positive parenting’.

Failing our children

Recently, Judith Woods reported in The Daily Telegraph on the Scandinavian experience. It seems those very countries which prided themselves on their ‘enlightened’, child-centred parenting style are having second thoughts. Best-selling Swedish academic David Eberhard has concluded that his countrymen have created ‘a generation of arrogant young adults who lack social empathy, personal resilience and, after a childhood of pampering, are destined to be bitterly disappointed in life.’

The area of discipline in parenting is sensitive and complicated and I can’t get into detail here, except to recommend that before those who disagree with ‘tough love’ leap to their computer keyboards to fire off a riposte, they take the time to have a good look at the 2009 book The Spoilt Generation: why restoring authority will make our children and society happier. It is by researcher Dr Aric Sigman, and although he is a non-religious academic who ‘has not so much as had tea with a vicar’, he comes to the conclusion of Proverbs 13.24, that loving parents discipline their children when it is needed and not to do so is to ‘hate’ them.

God who uses pain

As ‘professional’ bodies, indoctrinated with political correctness and therapy culture attitudes, currently press parents not to do anything that might make a child cry, it seems that God is rather different. Taking his cue from the book of Proverbs the writer to the Hebrews explains to us why the Christian life can never be easy. God uses the circumstances of our lives and even persecution to ‘discipline us for our good, that we may share his holiness’. We are reminded that ‘no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful’ (Hebrews 12.4-12).

It would seem that if Christians buy into the false smile of the ‘positive parenting’ lobby it will not be long before they come to conclude that God is a bad parent. ‘How dare he make us cry?’

And think of Jesus. ‘How could a God who strikes his Son as a penal substitute upon the cross in his service possibly be worthy of our allegiance?’ If I’m not mistaken ‘positive parenting’ could, if taken into the evangelical camp, easily become a Trojan horse to undermine belief in central matters of the gospel. We won’t be smiling then.

John Benton

This article was first published in the April 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
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