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US Adults Say Children Need to Learn Responsibility; Experts Say Parents Must Stop Over-Indulging Children

US Adults Say Children Need to Learn Responsibility; Experts Say Parents Must Stop Over-Indulging Children

Responsibility Tops List of Child-Rearing Values Across Ideological Groups

A new Pew Research Center survey shows more than half of adults believe responsibility is one of the most important values to teach children.

According to the survey, 55 percent of the 3,243 adults – especially those in the 30 to 64, and 65 and beyond age groups – interviewed believe responsibility is one of the most important values to teach children.

Alex Chediak, an engineering professor at California Baptist University who authored the parenting guide Preparing Your Teens for College after seeing students struggle to adapt to the college environment, believes the survey's results reflect a growing backlash against today's self-indulgent youth culture.

Chediak explained, "The youth culture of our day – promoted in movies, music, and magazines – is narcissistic and myopic. It shouts at teens to put off adulthood as long as possible, to seek maximum pleasure in the moment, and to put self above all else."

He also believes that the older and more mature adults become, the more clearly they see the threat that this self-indulgent culture may pose on society and desire to raise their children differently.

Mark Gregston, executive director of adolescent counseling facility Heartlight Ministries and author of Parenting Today's Teens: a Practical Devotional, said parents who want to have responsible children must first take a look at their own actions.

"I think that it's hard to demand an air of responsibility when we as parents are the ones usurping our kids' responsibility by doing everything for them," he said.

According to Gregston, children whose parents provide for their every need never learn to "work out their faith" and do things for themselves.

Gregston, reflecting on the biblical story of the prodigal son, said the wayward child who spent his inheritance on hedonistic pleasures owned up to his actions only after people stopped giving him things.

Chediak also noted that "the Christian faith very much undergirds the call to teens to grow in responsibility, to put away childishness, and to take on the mantle of adulthood."

While the Pew survey revealed 81 percent of "consistently conservative" respondents thought it was especially important to teach their children religious faith, less than a third of all respondents identified faith as one the most important values to teach children.

Chediak said the Christianity is the perfect foil to hedonistic temptations enticing today's youth. "The Christian faith, in contrast, calls us to die to self and live for Christ. In exchange, we find ourselves and get connected with a cause that's larger than ourselves," he explained.

As a result, Christian parents, Chediak said, have a "two-fold duty to raise our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord and to prepare them to live responsibly and wisely."

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