Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Parenting vs. Babysitting

It seems to me that parents today aren't really raising their children; they're merely performing a custodial service until they grow up and leave the house.

I believe most of you would agree that the best environment to raise a child is a two parent family where only one parent works. Typically, the mother stays home with the children and perhaps gets a part time job when they are in school.

Those children from broken homes or two income families are not really being parented so much as just taken care of or babysat. When a parent sends a child off to day care for 9 hours a day and then only has time to spend 4 or 5 hours with that child after work, who is doing the parenting? Almost no parenting is really being done, it's all caretaking.

Parenting is more than just raising good kids and teaching them to be good people and instilling your values and ideals to them. Parenting is about passing your life on to your children. How can that be done when you're not spending time with them?

In the case of children of divorce, the child is split between two homes and each parent must take advantage of every moment to be as much of a parent as possible. But it still relegates the children to simply being cared for. It's still better for a child to be split between two homes than be abandoned by one parent but it still makes things far more difficult for that child than it is for the child of a two parent home.

Sadly, most people that initiate a divorce are thinking more about themselves than they are the long term benefit of their children. In cases of adultery, abuse, etc., that doesn't really apply but divorce is far too easy and our culture seems to be so accepting of it.

Nearly all of the adults I know that came from broken homes absolutely hated the situation. The only people that said their parents were better off apart came from homes where there was adultery, abuse, drugs or similar circumstances. The one thing they all had in common though is that they were frustrated that they didn't feel like they were part of a family no matter how well the divorced parents got along or were at least civil and cooperative with each other.

And we have to ask ourselves, "What does divorce teach our children?" What does it teach them about commitment, about honoring a covenant, about doing the right thing even when it's hard? I'm afraid those are the wrong lessons to be teaching our children.