Your Child Is Your Neighbor

If you asked me the single-most important insight that has shaped my parenting, it would be this: Children are people. It seems self-evident. Clearly, they have arms, legs, ears, and mouths enough to qualify. But the idea of their personhood goes far beyond just possessing a human body. It goes to the core of their being and speaks to their worth. Children bear the image of God, just like adults. Well, not just like adults — it's true they are developing physically, emotionally, and spiritually at a different rate than adults, but their intrinsic worth and dignity does not increase or decrease depending on the rate or extent of their development. As Dr. Seuss famously noted, "A person's a person, no matter how small."

If you asked me the single-most misleading statement I've heard with regard to parenting, it would be this: The Bible is relatively silent on the topic of parenting.

On the surface, this statement appears true. When we think of "parenting passages" we typically think of those that explicitly mention parents, children, authority, and instruction: Deuteronomy 6, the fifth commandment in Exodus 20, spare the rod and spoil the child, train up a child in the way he should go, children obey your parents in the Lord, and a smattering of other verses. We may even throw in the example of the Prodigal Son or the parenting woes of the patriarchs for good measure. But other than these, few passages mention the parent-child relationship specifically, leading many to conclude that, for the most part, God must leave us to figure out this parenting thing on our own. An understandable conclusion.

Until we remember that children are people.

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