CHRIST AND NEIGHBOR
Fathers, Mothers, and Children

October 1988By John C. Cort



A young woman was telling me recently about the children in her second-grade class and how so many of them were spoiled and, frequently, out of control. She’s a sweet, gentle person and she really shook me when she said she almost regretted the local law against spanking school children. Not that she wanted to spank them herself, but she thought perhaps the principal should be allowed to.

The public school where she teaches is in a prosperous suburb and most of the parents are in­telligent, well-educated people.

About the same time, a young man I know al­so told me something revealing. I have watched him with his children and I have rarely seen a more devoted, loving father. Still, it came as no great sur­prise when he told me that a week’s separation from his adorable three-year-old was not entirely a bed of pain. Getting her up in the morning was sometimes difficult. There was the problem of ne­gotiating her separation from the bed, negotiating what clothes she was going to put on, negotiating what she was going to eat for breakfast. This young man, and his wife, are very intelligent, well-educated people.

I have a friend, one of my more intelligent friends, and I recently gave her and her four-year-old daughter a ride that lasted about 30 minutes. Almost the entire 30 minutes was consumed by the mother negotiating unsuccessfully with the daugh­ter over whether the daughter would fasten her seatbelt, which happens to be the law in that state. I was about ready to join my own screams with those of the daughter by the time we reached our destination. I should have pulled over to the side of the road and refused to go another inch, but some­how I couldn’t bring myself to embarrass my friend.


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