Nature versus nurture.
It’s been long debated by psychologists whether you’re the way you are because of nature (your genes) or by nurture (your environment). The debate will probably go on until the Lord comes back.
Have you thought about the nature versus nurture debate in regard to your parenting? Whether or not you let nature take its course or if you nurture your children, molding them into what you feel like the Lord would have them be?
Today in our society, many parents neglect the opportunity they have to make a difference in the lives of their children. They neglect discipline as if it were a plague. They let other people raise their children (if not physically, at least emotionally). They subscribe to the theory that it takes a village to raise children and while it does take more than one person to have an impact on a child’s life, “the village” ultimately is not responsible to God for the raising. Parents are.
When parents let nature take its course with their children, they have no way of knowing how things will turn out. Because we’re sinful creatures, we’re naturally inclined to sin. The world would say our sinful nature is nothing more than human nature and our life experiences make us better people. Yes, our failures do make us better people if we use them for the good, but that doesn’t make some of those things any less sinful or acceptable.
Our goal as parents should be to nurture our children. To grow them in the admonition of the Lord. To make sure that nature doesn’t take its course to the extent that our children are untamed like a wild river.
But how do we do this?
It’s easy to say that you should raise your children to follow the Lord. It’s an entirely different thing for it to actually happen. The truth is: we, as parents, are sometimes just as wild and untamed and unwilling to be nurtured as our children are. We rebel against any type of structure. Even in our homeschooling sometimes, we tend to neglect our schedules and take too many relaxed days. What happens? We get to May 30th and realize we still have 30 or 40 days of school left and we’re going to miss our summer break.
So while structure sometimes isn’t fun and allowing ourselves to be nurtured and groomed in a certain way feels restricting, in the long run it’s better for us and it’s better for our children. I certainly do not subscribe to the theory that life shouldn’t be fun and that it should be all work all of the time. The Lord knows I would have dried up and withered away long before now if that were the case. But when let people influence me in a Godly way and smooth out my rough spots and nurture me instead of letting me be the natural wild beast that I’d be, I come out so much better on the other side. The same is true with our children.
If we never instruct our toddlers to behave and if we never teach manners and general proper behavior, they’re going to be like untamed beasts. If we fail to teach them how the Lord would have them live, they’ll bring shame upon the Lord and upon your family. And upon themselves ultimately.
So the debate between “nurture or nature” may go on for generations to come, but I hope you’ll see that the most natural way to parent and to grow children who will walk in the Lord is to nurture them.
Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.