I Want My Child to Have Everything

It has become a common thing to speak of these present years as a “materialistic age.” It is apparent now, even to the most casual thinker, that today we put undue emphasis on the possession of things. Clothes, cars, jewelry, land, houses - all necessary to establish us in an artificial social position - assume for us an importance all out of proportion to their real worth. This is not a new weakness in man. Jesus of Nazareth preached against it in His day. His words need no editing to suit our day and time.

But the tragic thing is that it is not only our generation that is blind to all but the grand vision of a higher standard of living: the reflected light of our vision is shining into the eyes of our own children. Their dreams grow from ours.

And to make sure that the next generation has a properly developed appetite, just like ours, we shower our children with “everything” they ask for. First toys; then pocket money; then clothes; then cars; then all their cultivat­ed tastes ask for, as much as we can dig up for them. And our only excuse for this is the cry, “I love my child! I want him to have everything I did not have.” Our children then grow up without discipline, without the will to work, without moral and religious training without the qualities that will make them men or adult integrated women. It is strange to note that two of the most disgusting criminals of 1955 were young men “from a good home.”

I want to suggest now three new things that we can give to our child. I think they will be more useful to him than, say, a new bicycle or wristwatch. I want to give warning that these are very expensive gifts, as were the gold, frankincense and myrrh given on another occasion to an· other child.

The first is called Chastening.

“Whom the Lord loves, he chastens.” If we do wrong, we are chastened. So if our child does wrong, let him be chastened, by a sorrowing, reluctant parent (by all means) but by a firm hand. This is a wonderful gift to the child who is to be a man.

The next gift is Example. I look with amazement at a parent who sends his child to “Sunday School,” but who does not go to church himself. Does he imagine that his offspring will think such things as faith and obedience to God important in the face of his parent’s practical denial? Let him show his child what is the duty of man to God. This is a lovely gift.

The third gift is Time. This will perhaps be thought the most expensive; since everyone knows that time is money. Very well, spend it on the child that you love. I talk now especially to busy fathers, but also to social climbing mothers. Did we think before we had our children that with them our lives would go on just the same as before? If we want them to be godly, knowledgeable, self-controlled, imaginative, good – any of the qualities of mankind – let us train them in those things. Solomon says that if this is done for a child he “will not depart from it” in later years.

By H.P. Ewing, Thoughts for Today, March18, 1958

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