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Rick McDaniel: The child-centered family – is hurting our children | His Word - Christianity Today

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I recently wrote an op-ed about sexless marriages. How when a couple has a child-centered marriage rather than a couple-centered marriage their relationship suffers, especially their sex life. But that is only half the story for the family.

The other half is how the children are negatively impacted by a child-centered family. Not only are marriages hurt but it also does the children no favors in preparing them for life.

The worst outcome for a family is to experience divorce and the best way to prevent divorce is to prioritize and focus on the marriage. Parents need to pay more attention to the marriage than to the children.

RICK MCDANIEL: THE ‘SEXLESS MARRIAGE’ — IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP CHILD-CENTERED OR COUPLE-CENTERED?

The child-centered home surfaced in the early 1980s. Boomer parents decided that their kids were going to get all the stuff they didn’t. And this focus hasn’t stopped since. In fact, it’s increased.

Moms and dads center their home around the children, especially their academics and athletics. Kids grow up overprotected, overindulged and as the center of their parents’ world.

It should not be surprising then that we would have a college admissions scandal where parents are paying to get their kids into an elite college. This is the natural outcome of the child-centered family. If the kids can’t earn it on their own then we will pay someone to do it for them.

Parents should have a clear goal in their parenting: raising self-sufficient, independent adults. The entire time they are parenting they are working themselves out of a job. Their focus is to raise their children to go out and meet the challenges of life.

The child-centered family gives children way too much and requires way too little. The result is prolonged adolescence and delayed maturation. The milestones to adulthood are not met in a natural fashion. Children should be transitioning from childhood to adulthood, from privilege to responsibility but they’re not.

A perfect example is driver’s licenses. I grew up in Connecticut where you could get your driver’s license the day you turned 16. I was at the DMV on my birthday to get my license and couldn’t wait to drive and experience this seminal rite of passage into adulthood.

A driver’s license marked the transition from childhood and dependence to adult responsibility and freedom. But according to the Federal Highway Administration, last year the percentage of American 16-year-olds with driver’s licenses was 24.5 percent, a massive drop from 46.2 percent in 1983.

This is a remarkable development. From almost half having a license to now only one-quarter of 16-year-olds driving. And the timeline is exactly in keeping with the shift to child-centered homes.

A young person may think: why drive when mom can chauffeur me everywhere I need to go? Why deal with the challenges of driving, parking and obeying traffic laws when my parents can get me an Uber? Why learn about car maintenance and costs when dad can take care of it all for me?

This is the result of an entitlement mentality. And it is more than just a driver’s licenses. When the children are the focus their wants are confused for their needs. They grow up expecting to get what they want. When they don’t the parent will talk to the teacher, coach or whoever else is keeping their child from happiness.

Other traditional milestones of adulthood are also not being met in a timely manner. Leaving home, finishing college or vocational training, finding a job, getting married and having kids. Until the 1980s these milestones were completed in a fairly short period of time. Now they can take 10 to 20 years to be completed.

The worst outcome for a family is to experience divorce and the best way to prevent divorce is to prioritize and focus on the marriage. Parents need to pay more attention to the marriage than to the children.

Parents should have a clear goal in their parenting: raising self-sufficient, independent adults. The entire time they are parenting they are working themselves out of a job. Their focus is to raise their children to go out and meet the challenges of life.

The mission of any parent is to produce a resilient child who becomes a mature adult who can deal with the hardships and problems of life. The classic definition of maturity is the ability to delay gratification and the ability to tolerate frustration.

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This combination creates a mentally healthy, mature adult. A parent raises their child to understand some gratification has to be delayed. They teach their child to understand they will have to tolerate the frustrations of life. And help them to realize the world does not revolve around them.

When children are raised to be independent they can seek out life’s adventures. They can graduate from adolescence not prolong it. They can embrace the responsibility necessary to be successful in life.

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