Sermons

Summary: A Mothers' Day message urging parents to instruct their children to honour them, and urging children to show honour to their parents.

“Listen to your father who gave you life,

and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Buy truth, and do not sell it;

buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;

he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

Let your father and mother be glad;

let her who bore you rejoice.” [1]

Helicopter parents are a thing in this day. I suppose there have always been helicopter parents, but they appear to be rather prominent today. For those who have never heard the term, a helicopter parent is a parent who, like a helicopter, hovers overhead, overseeing their child’s life. The children are cloistered, protected from disappointment, kept from learning to inure themselves from hardship. They are sheltered from truth, and never allowed to fail. And even should they fail, the parents make excuses and refuse to face reality.

Examples of helicopter parenting abounds in the news items of the day. Parents regularly share videos on social media of brawls at children’s sporting events. For instance, adults began a fight following a pee-wee football game in Virginia. [2] In June of this past year, it was parents fighting at a twelve-and-under girls’ softball game. [3] In this current year, parents in Wisconsin initiated a fight at a youth wrestling match. [4] And these are just incidents from more recent days! Similar incidents are recorded each year, even on a weekly basis!

One needn’t appeal to sporting events to see evidence of helicopter parenting. One need but consider the response of parents in our own community to charges that a teacher called a child out for misbehaving. Parents who feel their child didn’t get a fair shake are increasingly notorious for interjecting themselves into the life of their children. Rather than seeing negative events are opportunities for teaching how to respond to life, we are witnessing the creation of a society marked by helicopter parents.

I understand that I’m a social dinosaur; I grew up in a different era. I was warned by my dad that if there was a problem at school and I was disciplined by one of my teachers, I could expect to face his wrath when I got home. He took the business of “in loco parentis” seriously; and if I dishonoured him, I would definitely face a “loco” parent.

As if helicopter parents weren’t a significant problem in their own right, now we’re hearing about “Lawnmower Parents.” Lawnmower parents are known for mowing down any challenges, discomforts and struggles a child may face. [5] Stories of Lawnmower Parents include,

• The parent of a high school student who asked a teacher to walk their student to class to assure that the student would not be late.

• A parent who requested someone from the cafeteria blow on their child’s too-hot lunch to cool it down.

• A parent who called to schedule a make-up test when the student was clearly old enough to request a time.

• A teacher called to the office, expecting to retrieve a student’s forgotten meal money or inhaler, but meeting a sheepish parent dropping off an expensive water bottle after repeated texts from the child. [6]

These are not situations in which a parent was willing to help a child succeed. These are examples of parents repeatedly seeking to eliminate every struggle from their children’s lives.

Parents are training children that they deserve an easy life that they didn’t earn. Parents appear to expect that their children need never face disappointment, need never fail. Let me give a couple of illustrations that point out what I’m speaking about. In West Virginia, parents sued a high school teach because their child received an “F” for failing to turn in a biology project on time. [7] A similar suit was filed because the student didn’t become class valedictorian due to a grade of “B” rather than an “A” for a biology project. [8] In Los Angeles, parents sued the school district because their daughter was not named valedictorian. [9] That same year, a parent sued another California school district because her son received a “C+” in a chemistry class. [10] Multiple illustrations could be provided to demonstrate this phenomenon.

On top of these outrageous stories, we were recently treated to accounts of parents who spent hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars to ensure that their children got into what are considered “top schools.” Over fifty people, including Hollywood celebrity parents, CFL football stars and the heads of major corporations, financial institutions and law firms paid to cheat on college entrance exams and to create artificial biographies to ensure that their children were accepted by these schools. These are not good parents—these are self-absorbed parents!

This is not normal! People have forgotten the entire point of raising children—imparting solid values and bringing up well-rounded members of society. As Karol Mackowicz has noted, “Parents have become morally bankrupt.” [11] We have been sold a lie in this day and in our culture. We appear to believe that our children must live Instagram-perfect lives so that the parents can brag about the accomplishments of their children. Parents no longer appear able to accept average children who excel in righteousness, who live honourably and who make a positive contribution to society though they may never stand out as someone with a million followers on Facebook. We want our children to be “influencers,” though the influence they wield does not lead to righteousness, to godliness, to goodness.

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