God bless MSNBC news anchor, Melissa Harris-Perry, for speaking her mind declaring children as belonging, not parents and families, but to the collective who should also educate them. I do respect her point of view, and I am grateful that she put her belief out there so that what she really meant cannot be mistaken.
This statement and her attempts to recast it can serve as a rally point for truth and healing the American parenting culture which suffers from surrendering our inherent God-given authority to be the parent.
Listen to her declaration in the video below:
The folly of this “collectivist” thinking, that power comes from the principalities of this world, not from our Creator, crystallizes for me the value of the authority model of the American republic: God is sovereign over the individual and grants individuals intelligent life and free will; and the people thereby give up limited power to government to protect this civil liberty.
So we can agree that children do not belong to parents in the sense of being property. They are children of God. Our children belong to Him. He trusts us with them. And so it follows:
- Parenting is a divine appointment. God did not assign children to groups. Children are not born as wards of the state, or to bureaucratic systems and programs. He delegates to individuals – a set of parents at a time.
- God works with amateurs. Look at what the founding fathers achieved through mustard seeds of faith – and they had no previous training or experience as politicians. Parents, like politicians, professors, media personalities and theologians, are not perfect – and every parent is an amateur because each child is unique. We have never raised that child before.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Educating youth: The art of delegation and learning
Fundamentally, the controversy over who is responsible for educating our children is a matter of what you believe (as in where our authority comes from in the first place) and what you understand about two things 1) the art of delegation and 2) learning.
Delegation. Anyone who has ever successfully been responsible for delegating knows that when “everybody is responsible” then no one is responsible. How many exhausted moms can shout “Amen!” to this truth? Mothers learn not to say “someone pick up those shoes” or “someone clear the table.”
If you do not specifically assign an individual, the assumption is someone will do it, but not me. Assigning responsibility to “everybody” is futile.
Here is the other thing about the art of delegating. It is also a transfer of power, or authority. To truly delegate a responsibility, the authority must come with the assignment.
When my sons were in grade school, they challenged me that their teachers were in charge of their education, and that their homework was actually none of my business. I explained that while the teacher was in charge of the classroom, I and their dad were ultimately responsible for their education. We decided where they would attend school.
Parents are household executives ultimately responsible for the education of their children. Teachers are classroom executives responsible for the delivery of the curriculum content. Parents are critical in this regard, because the signals they give their children about classroom conduct are the first and most important set of instructions for learning.
Learning. The paradigm Harris-Perry suggests is that education is something that we do to children. That it is primarily about how much money we invest in a system; how many people we hire.
Children are actually learning executives. We cannot force anyone to learn by spending more money on education. It is an executive function on the part of the individual, the child, who has free will and must be motivated to take information or ideas and interpret and apply them.
And the enemy of motivation is distraction, such as anxiety, hopelessness, preoccupation with texting and social media and other addictions.
This is the challenge for parents and classroom educators alike.
Role of parents in education of youth
My friend and colleague Dr. Susan Weinberger of The Mentor Consulting Group, said it best:
“Our children only pass this way once. A parent is and always will be a child’s first teacher.”
Children must first learn at home how to tame their free will, so they can have self-control because learning requires discipline, and yet there is so much distraction with the our multitasking, consumer-oriented, texting and social media centric lifestyles.
Our education system will never make up for what is lacking in our parenting culture, which has not caught up with the network culture. The network culture has transformed the way in which we experience life and therefore, how we learn. It has created a crisis and opportunity for parenting, because children are being conditioned as learning executives. They seek authenticity and are conditioned for authority as a relational experience.
In this regard we can build family cultures that respect every family member as an individual, and strengthen the parent-child bond around house rules as an expression of God’s love. It is the same model of authority for the American republic. Parents can transform their homes into mini-republics, where children may experience cyber-safe boundaries and self-control as liberation, not oppression.
“Family lifestyles are hectic and distracted. Home is often perceived by youth as not a safe place. We work with Joanna Jullien because her parenting philosophy and teaching to help parents relate to their tech-savvy children is an essential aspect of restoring health and peace of mind for children who need to bond with parents in authentic ways.” — Angela Chanter, PsyD., Therapeutic Solutions 360 in Roseville, Ca.
Build your family culture to be a learning culture
I started working with a local group of psychologists, Therapeutic Solutions 360, in Roseville, to do some private consulting to train parents to “hit the reset button” and restore peace at home.
The parenting curriculum is called Fresh Start and is also available as a 3-hour workshop which can be arranged for parenting groups who want to revitalize the character of a liberated individual in their children who are using cyber powered tools.
So if parents are feeling overwhelmed and at times powerless with what is happening in their children’s cyber-powered lives, or simply want to clear out the distractions, contact me at Jullien@surewest.net to see about arranging for a workshop or a private 2-session, three hour program to hit the reset button.
More about what the community can do for children: Your children are not your own: They remain children of God
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, a contributor for Three Moms and a Mike, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM, Tuesdays.
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