Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why are we born?

Another TV documentary not long ago, about child beauty pageants and the children and mothers involved. The reviewer passed the comment that there was a certain sadness about it. Their reason? The little girls were involved in these beauty/talent/whatever contests because their mothers wanted them to be. It was supposed to be about the girls getting a great career launched, and a bright future happening, but the ones who pushed the issue were the parents, not the little girls themselves.
This issue goes back years. I recall "Dead Poets Society", one of the best films I've ever seen except that the ending was so tragic. It was the same thing happening. Neil Perry's father had an ambition for his son: "You're going to Harvard, and you're going to be a doctor!" Neil was not asked what he wanted to do, he was told, and when he showed interest in being an actor instead his father, enraged, was going to send him to military school to make sure he shaped up the way his father wanted. The parent reckoned the child came into the world to do what the parent wanted. That was the end of that.
Back further still, MAD Magazine did a satiric take on parents who want their children to become movie stars. In its usual ironic way, the magazine talked about a mother taking her son round all the talent agencies, and said: "Her son will have a movie career. He will succeed if she has to break every bone in his body."
Suffer the children.
It's probably as old as the human race. Parents have children to live out an agenda of their own. Children are born to be heirs to the family property, or to do something the parents want. In recent history, I heard a woman from a Communist nation say of her daughter: "She belongs to the state."
I've heard a father say, "I played football so my son's going to play football."
The examples could go on and on. The point is, mere human beings are claiming ownership of what is NOT theirs, at all.
Who makes children come to life? Can any human guarantee to to that? No way.
God causes people to come into the world. And God alone has the right to decide what they should be, not only because He made them but because He knows far better what is right in any case.
It must be pure horror to be the child of ruthless ego-maniac parents who want to live through their child. The kid is only there for them, they reckon - while insisting they 'only want what's best'. Yeah! A control freak is always good at justifying themselves.
One of the greatest examples of Godly parenting was by Hannah, mother of Samuel the Prophet. Mark you, her example is almost asking too much of a mother. She begged God to give her a son, and vowed to give her son back to God to serve. So when Samuel was only two years old he was given into the care of the Priest to learn to serve in the Temple. His mother only saw him once a year. It shouldn't have to be that hard for all Christian parents, but the point is, who really should decide what becomes of a child, and what they do in life. God. Not mere human parents; and least of all pushy parents who want the child to fulfill their ego-trips for them.
We have five children. Obviously we care a lot about what they do in life, but we can't make them something we decide. It would never work. The huge youth rebellion thing in the 1960s had a lot to do with youth resenting their parents trying to make them into something they did not want to be. One singer of that era penned the line, "your children are not your children," meaning that you don't own them. But that singer still didn't get it quite right. If people try living life just for themselves, they can become hedonists, completely self-centred, or just plain lost.
So we have this ongoing thing, mistake on mistake, and all the fallout. Perents and families trying to breed a child according to blue-print, a sort of made-to-order person; or people making themselves their own god and becoming like Gordon Gecko. Or just plain lost.
When Jesus said 'Give to God what is God's" He meant more than just tithes and money offerings.
Human children are God's. He make them. He alone can save them. He knows best what should become of them. And it is a very arrogant, foolish mistake to forget that.
Of course we have dreams about them. But we need to know who even invented dreams.
One of our sons is studying to become a pastor. His mother and I are glad of that. But he had to decide, under God's prompting, to do that. If we'd pushed and pushed him to do it because we wanted that, it could all have gone square-wheeled. The proverb saying "Bring up a child in the way you want them to go," meanst bring them up to follow God, not just your ambitions for them.
Once before I wrote a blog post about why I would never enter our daughter in a beauty pageant. I don't want to compare her to other children, and treat her like a showpiece for her family. That is NOT why God gave her into our care. Our task is to raise her in Christ, for Him and for her own sake, not to get human approval.
I must never forget that. God help and guide us all.

3 comments:

jel said...

morning Andrew,
very good post
hope y'all are well
take care

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

We must have seen the same documentary Andrew. It shocked me. I thought that the way these children were treated was actually very close to abuse.

Our son was allowed to follow his own dreams and I personally learnt a lot while travelling with him.

How sad that so many parents miss out on the joys of joining their children in their own voyage of discovery.

Andrew Clarke said...

Agreed, Fr.Peter. I think it becomes borderline abusive. And as you say, watching the way our children developed when allowed to be themselves, we their parents found our own lives expanded. They had interests new to us, and we learnt things from them we would not otherwise have done. People need to understand, human reproduction is NOT cloning, and should not be seen that way. Nor are children personal accessories to live through. Good to hear from you.