Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Kindergarchy - Beware of Child-Centeredness

If you have kids or once upon a time you were a kid yourself, I would recommend reading Joseph Epstein's latest feature article in the Weekly Standard called "The Kindergarchy."

Epstein highlights the child-centeredness of our culture in comparison to how he was raised in the late 30s and 40s.

Although I do not agree with some of his conclusions or solutions, I think he highlights a dangerous attitude and sinful parental trend that has permeated our culture including Christian parents. He continually points out what he diagnoses as a over-attentiveness to children (our own children) that in the long run does more harm than good. It teaches them to think that they are significant in themselves and that they are the center of the universe.

Although Epstein conclusions and observations are not always biblically informed, and although I think he fails to acknowledge the sinful and negative tendencies and ways of his parent's generation (who raised the parents of the children of the sixties and seventies), he provides the modern day (or should I say -- "post modern") parent and former-child with a rather scary mirror and self-portrait. I encourage you to take a look and see how the culture of Kindergarchy has influenced you and your parenting.

Here is his article:
In America we are currently living in a Kindergarchy, under rule by children. People who are raising, or have recently raised, or have even been around children a fair amount in recent years will, I think, immediately sense what I have in mind. Children have gone from background to foreground figures in domestic life, with more and more attention centered on them, their upbringing, their small accomplishments, their right relationship with parents and grandparents. For the past 30 years at least, we have been lavishing vast expense and anxiety on our children in ways that are unprecedented in American and in perhaps any other national life. Such has been the weight of all this concern about children that it has exercised a subtle but pervasive tyranny of its own. This is what I call Kindergarchy: dreary, boring, sadly misguided Kindergarchy.
For the entire article, click here.


Joseph said...

This is a very valid point. I hope, however, that the opposite other extreme in our society is not ignored either, namely Career and financial stability centered parenting that results in the utter neglect of our children. It is no shock that we live in a land of extremes. We must find the balanced approach to running our lives found only in dependance upon Jesus Christ. Neglect of our jobs is bad, but so is neglect of our family life. Neglect of being involved in Church is bad, but so is the neglect of our family life or job due to over involvement in Church.

There is only one safe extreme and that is complete and urgent dependance upon Jesus to help us avoid the negative extremes of life and thus bring Him glory!

James said...

Dear Daniel -

I am delighted to see that you have paid attention to this issue which I believe is enormously pressing in the church today.
Only yesterday I received a copy of Kevin DeYong's book, which has a chapter devoted to this topic. I have done my own research into the roots and causes of kindergarchy, including how it affects our failure to behold the splendor of the glory of God, and how it erodes our sense of the holiness of God.
I would be very much interested in hearing whether you have been thinking further on this issue, or if you have found good, practical ways of dealing with it in ministry. Our little organization dealing with how we fail to love God with our minds and contemplate Christ could use these - quoting you if that is permissible - when / where we deal with the issue of child-centeredness in American culture.

Kind regards,