Tim Kimmel titled chapter five, A Strong Hope, and he does a great job here of explaining why it’s important, how we can build it, and how we so easily destroy it in our children. On page 95 he says, “Anything—minus hope—equals nothing. Hope is the human equivalent of oxygen when it comes to a person’s ability to live effectively.”
He tells us, “Grace is the key because grace is a by-product of hope, and hope is a by-product of grace. Let’s remind ourselves of what grace is. In simple terms, grace is receiving something we don’t deserve but desperately need,” and “Unfortunately, parental negligence-whether intentional or unwitting-can set a child up to struggle with hopelessness and feelings of inadequacy for a lifetime.”
Kimmel devotes a lot of time cautioning the over-protective parent. He says that parents who run their children’s lives and make most of their decisions discourage them from individual thinking which can damage their ability to learn to lean on God. He perfectly describes many of the parents Craig has encountered during his two years at a Christian school as well as many of the homeschooling parents I’ve “run into” on blogs and such. On page 113 he says, “raising safe Christian kids is a spiritual disaster in the making. Your effort will produce shallow faith and wimpy believers. Kids raised in an environment that stresses safety are on track to be evangelical pushovers. They will tend to end up either overly critical of the world system to the point where they won’t want anything to do with the people in the world system-an idea that comes directly from Satan’s playbook. Or, they will become naïve about the world system, which ultimately makes them putty in Satan’s hands. He chews up these kinds of people like they are spiritual McNuggets and swallows them whole. When they’re finally confronted with the full thrust of the world system as young adults, few know how to turn it into an opportunity for spiritual impact.”
And I thought his swimming analogy on page 120 was very good: “To many Christian parents, the idea of developing their children’s faith is like teaching them to swim on the living room rug. They don’t want them to learn how to swim in water because they could drown. So these children don’t really learn how to live out a strong, adventurous faith; they just know how to go through the motions.”
My defensiveness begins to kick in a bit while reading this chapter in that it almost sounds as though Kimmel is saying anyone who sends their kids to Christian schools or who homeschools is guilty of this over-parenting phenomenon. Again, I don’t really think that’s what he’s saying, but it is rather easy to read that into his text. As with anything (everything!), this is a parent’s decision based on what they believe is the right decision for their family given their circumstances and their leading from the Lord. I’ve known good and bad examples to spring forth from all possible schooling decisions: home, Christian, public, non-Christian private. It is so much less about the educational environment and so much more about the families themselves, the parents themselves. And I think really Kimmel says that too.
I loved what he said on page 112 about grooming our children according to their natural bents. It is impossible to print out a list of how to raise a child and have it work for every child. It isn’t hard to see how individuals are so different from one another. Aren’t children individuals too? Even with the things about children that are “different” he says, “We can’t make these liabilities disappear, but we are to raise them in such a way that we account for them and give them tools to help process them properly.”