I can vividly remember the moment each of my 4 children were born. It was an overwhelming time of joy. Each one of our kids brings with them challenges and unique quirks that they get from their mother. (or, not) They will at times drive me nearer to insanity than I normally am and at other times make me laugh. They are a lot of work. They don’t get sick at convenient times and they are the recipient of a majority of my income. They make a lot of noise and often will cause people to look at us with condemning glares. But, they cause me to look at the world through different eyes and make me see things in myself that I hadn’t noticed before.
With all of that, I thank God each day for my kids. When I wake up each morning (before I want to), I know that these 4 children are the responsibility of my wife and I. Disney Junior has nothing on what I can do with them. We have these children to love, nurture and teach about life. I appreciate all the people who have input, but I don’t expect anyone to raise my children for me. Even as my second son goes to school in the fall, I recognize that my role is key to his learning and development. The schools come alongside us, we don’t necessarily come alongside them in all their policies and ideas. Our decision to remove them from the sex education and certain other functions is solely our choice.
There are so many expectations for who should be responsible for raising someone’s children that the obvious answer, their parents, often gets left out of the discussion. This is sometimes done in the most subtle of ways. Sometimes in youth or children ministry programs there is an expectation that this is a way to compensate for poor parenting, or, even worse, that these programs are free babysitting. But, when it comes to the spiritual growth of a child, the parents are the ones who have the most time with them.
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.- Deuteronomy 6:6-7
With that in mind, I read the story of a couple of children who came home sunburned from their field day because the school was not allowed to put sunscreen on them. (story) When I first saw the headline, I thought this was another case of school policy gone crazy. But, as I read the article I realized that this whole discussion could have been avoided if the mother would have put sunscreen on her children before they went to school. My son had field day a few weeks ago and we put sunscreen on him before he left. We did not leave it up to the school to do this for him. Why would we?
The article says that it was overcast and the mom didn’t think they needed sunscreen. But, seeing as her children suffered from an albino condition, wouldn’t you think she would be extra careful about that? Knowing what we know about the sun, we should know that we do need sunscreen even on overcast days. This would be even more of a concern for someone who easily burns. So, in this case the school policy was not at fault even if it seems a bit strange. At the end of the day, the responsibility for the welfare of that child is solely on the parent.
The lesson here is a simple one. Even if your child is at daycare, summer camp, youth group, or school, they are still your responsibility. Those of us who are a part of ministries to children know what a tremendous privilege it is for us to be a part of the lives of these children. However, parents need to pay attention to what is going on with their child and keep them safe. There is no substitute for an involved parent and no room for blame when they are not.