Was Hillary Right? [Guest Post]

hillary clinton, religion and parenting, politics and parenting, parental freedom[Editors Note: We have had many different perspectives–Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Muslim on the blog because we have readers of all faiths and backgrounds. I hope that this perspective can also be read with an open mind]

This guest post is by Daniel Darling is popular columnist, speaker, and the author of several books, including iFaith, Connecting to God in the 21st Century. For a link to some of his great gift ideas for graduation, click here.

In the culture wars of the 1990’s, there was no bigger villain among Christian conservatives than Hillary Rodham Clinton. She represented everything wrong about liberal ideology, an unswerving leftist ideologue hellbent on indoctrinating America’s children with a socialist worldview.

 

What fueled this anti-Hillary paranoia was the 1996 release of her book, It Takes a Village to Raise a Child. This book compounded the very real fear that government was encroaching on parental freedom to independently raise their children, a sacred space Christians were unwilling to surrender. This liberal onslaught fueled a massive movement to homeschools and Christian schools, a movement that continues today.

 

But fifteen years after the book’s release, many Christians are wondering if maybe Hillary was right. It’s not that their suddenly down with a more government-centric approach to parenting or the radical pro-choice feminism of Hillary’s movement. But parents, pastors, and other influencers are coming to the realization that maybe it does take a village of people to adequately raise a child.

 

Most evangelicals still distrust a top-down approach that strips parents of their God-given authority and responsibility. And yet they are awaking to the idea that they need help in passing down their values to the next generation.

 

We might rephrase Hillary’s book title to say, “It takes a church” or “It takes a community” to raise a child. We believe the Scriptures give parents the primary role, but not the only role.

 

Even good, godly, faithful parents need reinforcement. The church must be there to equip, train, and assist, filling in those gaps where parents fail and arming parents with truth and tips to make their homes a better environment for growth. Schools and civic institutions also play a role, when they provide teachers and coaches as helpful mentors.

 

When it comes to parenting, the evangelical pendulum has always swung from one extreme to the other.  On one side is the casual parenting philosophy, where Mom and Dad outsource character development and spiritual training to the church and to the educational establishment. But this approach has largely been proven a failure. Studies show that it is direct parental involvement that most impacts the faith legacy of children. An hour of Sunday school a week, a few weeks at summer camp, and Vacation Bible school are no match for the gusher of questionable worldviews that stream into a child’s life from the media, public education, and peers. With a casual approach, faith can easily be lost a single generation.

 

The reality of a parent’s importance has led some to swing to another, equally ineffective position, family individualism. Well-meaning parents, wary of the corrosive influences in the culture, seek to isolate their children, protecting them from harm. Not only does this approach leave children unable to answer their own personal doubts, it ill prepares them for the probing questions of an increasingly postmodern generation. Furthermore, when parents withdraw from institutions like the church, they miss out on life-affirming mentors and coaches who may fill in emotional and spiritual gaps.

 

Today, there is a rising movement that takes a “village” approach to parenting, involving the parents, the church, and other societal institutions as partners. Under this paradigm, parents still accept chief parenting responsibility but they are unafraid to lean in on the church, trusted mentors, and civic institutions.

 

One movement, entitled, Think Orange, was founded by Reggie Joiner, a renowned youth and culture leader. The idea of “orange” is the mixing of two colors, yellow and red. Joiner’s movement—which includes conferences, church curriculum, parenting resources, and coaching—advocates the collision of two forces: the parents and the church.

 

One organization, Awana Clubs International, whose youth programs are used in 19,000 churches worldwide, recently unveiled a new program, “Awana at Home.” Which helps parents extend spiritual teaching times and instill life values in their children on a consistent basis in the home.

 

And there are renewed efforts among evangelicals to help shepherd children who may lack the benefit of a stable, two-parent home. Orphan care and adoption movements are sweeping through churches, spearheaded conservative organizations such as Focus on the Family and The Southern Baptist Convention. Leaders such as best-selling author Donald Miller and Super-Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy have spearheaded mentoring initiatives, helping to match available mentors with at-risk children.

 

These combined, community-based approaches are an acknowledgement that the training of the next generation cannot fall to parents alone. Nor should institutions like the church be left to ensure the success of children. After all, all segments of society have a stake in the outcome.

 

I’m not sure uniting Christians in this effort was the purpose of It Takes a Village to Raise a Child, but her title certainly points toward the need for a team approach to building the next generation.

This guest post is by Daniel Darling is popular columnist, speaker, and the author of several books, including iFaith, Connecting to God in the 21st Century. For a link to some of his great gift ideas for graduation, click here.

 

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  1. Maybe It Does Take a Village « Daniel Darling, Author, Pastor, Speaker - May 29, 2011

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    […] Was Hillary Right? [Guest Post] Popular columnist, speaker and author Daniel Darling believes that although parents should still have the primary parenting responsibility, mentors, civic institutions, churches and other societal institutions can also play a positive role. […]

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