How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life

Time: The Critical Investment Every Father Needs to Make: #4-Toddlers: Part 3 Too much Adult?

September 28th, 2011


What is your biggest dream for your son? 

For most of human history, the future of sons was usually connected to their fathers. At around age 12, a boy began to apprentice in a trade with his father. If dad was a farmer, the son was a farmer. Dad is a carpenter, the son is a carpenter. You get the picture.

The biggest dream of any father was that his son would take his work to the next level. Farm more land or get a greater return on the crops. Expand the family business.

There were always exceptions to this practice of sons apprenticing with their fathers, but most often dads simply dreamed of their sons being a bigger and better version of themselves. Not so anymore.

With the industrial revolution, work becomes more than farming and trade. Factory work, and the entire infrastructure to make manufacturing possible, is not a place for apprentices. Sons certainly could follow their dads doing the same work, but not working alongside from the beginning.

Dads begin to have other dreams for their sons. In fact, a common dream for fathers becomes one of hoping their sons don’t follow in their footsteps, but make more out of their lives than what they did. This is often the case today. Sons are encouraged to do better in school, including making sure to go to college, or the “right” college.

Another twist to the “son doing better than dad” story is in leisure activities. Fathers work with their sons from toddler on in some sport or some hobby that dad was involved in, or wishes he had been involved in. Go to any park in America on any Saturday (or more recently, Sunday, and weekday nights for practice) and see this firsthand. Sports, from four/five year olds on, has become an American phenomenon. 

This becomes the classic scenario of dad working with his 3-year-old son to hit that golf ball, throw that baseball, kick that soccer ball, “better” than the other 3-year-old. Of course, there is always a price to pay. 

Living under constant supervision by adults is not the same as apprenticeship. Sons aren’t learning alongside their dads, as much as being observed and subconsciously graded by their dads as to how advanced they are compared to other sons their age. And creativity and imagination don’t function well when your childhood time is constantly spent under the supervision of adults. Even “creative” playtime is often overseen and structured by adults! Obviously the advent of the preschool movement becomes an influencing factor in all of this for younger children.

 Also, consider the whole concept of leadership development.  It’s difficult for sons to lead anything when dads are in charge of the activity. It is a challenge to see any son naturally rise to leadership when every step of the way adults are stressing concepts like “fairness” and “everybody gets their turn.” 

While these are certainly admirable rules to live by, the way they are interpreted, again, by adults, makes it difficult for kids to practice leadership. Interesting, at the same time, there is often talk of a leadership vacuum in our younger generations. Well, where would anyone learn leadership in today’s adult- controlling environment? 

Now, in all of this, who doesn’t instinctually know there is room for change here? Who doesn’t say or think at one time of another, “It’s hard for kids to just be kids anymore”? Quickly though, even this sentiment will disappear as children raised in this environment are now raising their own children in this environment. I’m afraid we will not know a time when the world of adult supervision was not the norm. 


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How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life