In a recent WSJ article that touched off a parenting firestorm, Amy Chua writes:
“Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires and preferences.”
Although I also have Chinese parents, I was raised by a looser standard than Chua’s (my mom does agree no one should play any instrument other than the piano), so I’m more inclined to consider my children’s desires and preferences. However, I do resonate with parts of what Chua says here:
“…children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.”
As children grow from being merely incapable of making good choices to sometimes rebelling against good choices, the parent often needs to impose the good choices for a time. This is common when it comes to health, safety, manners, etc., but it also applies to our spiritual lives.
For instance, some folks want to expose their children to various religions and let them make their own choice. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). While my children should know that different people have different beliefs, I also want them to know what I believe is the truth, and we have brought our children up to follow Jesus.
The same goes for various spiritual habits, such as going to church, reading the bible, praying (even aloud, even in ACTS format!), contributing to the offering, respecting elders (an important Asian value), and visiting the sick. How many children, or even adults, find it a challenge to do these things? But practice and perseverance help us overcome the challenges, and we can be blessed and bless others as well.
As Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”