Thursday, June 26, 2008

What is Best for the Puppy? What is Best for the Kid?

A three year old boy asks his parents for a puppy. When asked who will care for the dog, the boy assures his parents he will train the dog, feed the dog and take it for walks. Do you believe that kid? I think you’re smarter than that.
Many parents give in to their child’s big eyes and cute pleas for a puppy. Those parents have gone to the pound and brought home that poodle or Labrador retriever or St. Bernard and, soon found themselves taking care of that dog because doggie care is beyond the capacities of your average three year old.
I’m thinking of those three year olds as I watch the NBC reality TV show The Baby Borrowers. The show entrusts teenaged couples with babies, then infants and then children. In the interviews in the first episode, some of the girls speak with assurance that they can handle the challenge of parenthood.
Just as that three year old has no understanding of all that is involved in caring for a dog, these teenagers have no idea of all that is involved in caring for a child. I know this is true, because I was 28 years old when my wife and I had our first child, and we had no idea all that was involved in raising a child. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for us with a decade less of life experience.
I find it even harder to imagine what it would have been like to take care of a child alone.
But many young women find themselves alone, taking on the challenge of a child because it sounds “fun.” Just like that dog sounds “fun” to a three year old. As one of the actual mothers on the television show said, “Once you become a mother, you need to realize it is no longer about you anymore, it’s about the baby.”
Recently there was a news story about a group of teenaged girls in Gloucester that, according to initial reports, had made a pact to get pregnant together. The truthfulness of the report was then brought into question when some of the girls said that the pact was actually made by a group of pregnant girls to help each other out.
One of the children was fathered by a twenty-four year old homeless man who obviously was not going to play a part in the child’s life. Another of the children was parented by a couple that was practicing birth control. (An interesting word “practicing.” They obviously hadn’t got it right yet.)
Whatever the truth of the story of the “pact,” at the heart of the story is a group of 24 single teen girls bringing children into the world without the resources of a stable family with a mother and father, of education and income. Not every child is going to have those advantages. But studies show kids are much better off with a father as well as a mother to care for them.
It would be wise for those girls to consider letting their children be adopted by stable families.
Throughout Scripture, the importance of fathers is stressed. Proverbs 1:8 says “Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching.” The child benefits from the teaching of both parents.
The importance of fathers in Scripture can be seen in the fact that God is called our Heavenly Father. Hebrews 12 says “God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? …How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.”
Share wisdom and holiness with your child. Sex can wait for marriage. Parenthood should be saved for marriage. (You might even want to wait on that puppy.)

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