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‘Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn.’ Deuteronomy 31:13 NIV

In his book Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong, author William Kilpatrick identifies some child-rearing myths that parents buy into:

(1) The myth of the ‘good bad boy’. American books and movies often show ‘bad boys’ as charming and attractive. Tom Sawyer and Buster Brown are examples from the past; various other lovable brats feature in movies and on television today. This strand in the American tradition has such a powerful hold on the imagination that the word ‘obedience’ is very nearly a dirty word.

(2) The myth of natural goodness. The idea that virtue will take care of itself if children are just allowed to grow in their own way.

(3) The myth of expert knowledge. In recent decades, parents have deferred to professional authority in the matter of raising children. Unfortunately, the vast majority of child-rearing ‘experts’ subscribe to the myth of natural goodness.

So much emphasis has been placed on the unique, creative and spontaneous nature of children, that parents have come to feel child-rearing means adjusting themselves to their children, rather than having children learn to adjust to the requirements of family life. Let’s take a moment and observe what God said to the children of Israel about child-rearing: ‘Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear [reverence and respect] the Lord your God as long as you live.’ Note the phrase ‘must hear it and learn’. That’s not a suggestion for parents—it’s a commandment God has called you to obey if you want your family to be blessed.

SoulFood: 1 John 1:1–3:10, John 8:21–30, Ps 86, Pro 25:8–12

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright ©