February 22, 2010

The Value of Children

Last week I read a couple of historical fiction books that I had actually checked out of the library for Charis (who read them each at least 3 times--such is the free time of a 9-year-old, LOL). Since my memories of history lessons growing up are foggy, to say the least, I started thumbing through the "diaries" of these historical figures and got hooked.

In "Marie Antoinette's" diary, there comes a point at which she is mourning the loss of her young niece, who was close to her in age. She feels it is not fair that the child has died and voices her opinion to her strong-willed mother. The following passage comes straight from the book:

And Mama said, “Nonsense. She was but a child. If a child lives until twelve, it is a miracle. If she dies between twelve and marriage and having children, then it is unfair.” I realized then that Mama and I have entirely different views of childhood. Mama thinks that children are not precious because their deaths are so common. They are the disposable part of humanity. And I think just the reverse. Because children are rare, they must be and are the most precious things on earth, because they remind us of the incompleteness of life and are anything but disposable. We shall not even have a mourning period for Titi. It is not the Austrian custom, as Mama says, to “carry on” about children.

The Royal Diaries—Marie Antoinette, Princess of Versailles, by Kathryn Lasky

Truly, it's a sad picture of how children were viewed during that time period. But it made me wonder...is it really so different today? Last week I received a "State of the Family" update from the folks at Focus on the Family. One of the statistics indicated that fewer Americans today feel that having children is an important part of marriage. From this web site, I learned there are approximately 3,700 abortions every DAY, and 93% of those happen because of "social reasons" (the child is unwanted or is inconvenient). For the American culture in general, children are more often viewed as a burden rather than a blessing.

It's not limited to our nation, however--fertility rates in "developed" countries are lower than what is needed even to maintain current population figures. To put it bluntly, more people are more concerned about maintaining their current lifestyle than they are about raising the next generation.

Well...that's not entirely true. Secular people may feel that way, but followers of other religions are pretty serious about making sure there is an abundance of the next generation. Do a search of "fertility rates" on YouTube and you can find some interesting (and scary?) videos about how Europe will likely be completely Muslim in about 50 years.

One of my mentors in Maryland told me that she truly believes God wants to raise up a godly generation for His glory. She is a mother of 7, involved in a homeschooling group with many large families. I've thought a lot about what she said over the last few years, and I have to say I've come to think she's right. Look around--our culture is not exactly glorifying to God right now. We could use more men and women standing up and speaking truth, don't you think? And what better way to make sure there is a godly generation following us than to make sure we're involved in teaching and training the ones God has given us? Whether it's as parents or Sunday school teachers or simply investing in the children in your neighborhood, I think we can all help train those "reinforcements."

by Rebekah Pearl

There is a mighty army
Being trained to stand and fight,
A battlefield of soldiers
Learning what is right.
A company of warriors
That will boldly take the Word
To every tribe and nation
'Til every soul has heard.
There is a mighty army,
I've seen them everywhere;
Most are wearing diapers
And dragging teddy bears.
Infants in the training,
Drilled in right and wrong,
Mom and Dad are making
Soldiers brave and strong.
There is a mighty army
Trained in righteous war,
Cheer them on to victory,
Children of the Lord!


Bob and Claire said...

I was reading an interesting book this summer called "Little Heathens" about a woman grwoing up in Iowa during the time of the Depression. It was very interesting (it was her memoirs, so nonfiction), but I was astounded to read the attitudes of people in that time and area about children! They didn't want them,, made fun of people who had a lot, were so glad when birth control came to the area, etc. It was all said so casually, but I can really see the fruits of those attitudes now. It didn't just start in the 60's, which surprised me.

I definitely feel that raising a large Godly family is about the most counter-cultural thing I can possibly do!

Beverly said...

Wow, Claire! Very interesting! Hooray for counter-culture parents. :-)

taylordi said...

Just look at how our country treats mothers, teachers or daycare workers to realize that we say we value our children but we don't really if look at the policies for these groups. Teachers are some of the most educated, caring, giving of time and money and the most underpaid and put down. Think of the quote "Those who can't teach." Huh, it should be "Those that CAN teach!" If we really cared about children and really truly valued them we wouldn't let them go hungry, we wouldn't let them get beaten or neglected, we wouldn't let them suffer because their parents don't have health insurance, we would do what we can to support and love them. If we did that we would probably have less jails and less crime. I guess your post hit a nerve with me, as a country we really don't value children as they "aren't productive" citizens. Why can't we love them for being children?

the Pools said...

Well, I left you a comment on here yesterday but I guess it didn't get posted...Just saying I agree and wondering if you've ever checked out the Above Rubies website? Nancy Campbell has an excellent book called the POWER OF MOTHERHOOD that I highly recommend if you are interested in that sort of thing (I know you love God's word and I know you love reading so...wahlah...thereyago!) Also...I have some homeschooling organizational type questions to ask you...Ive actually been dying to call you but after 10 years it feels a little awkward just to pick up the phone....where could we best chat about this...email?