What does it mean to be a child? George Barna, well-known author and directing leader of Barna Research Group, spent years studying childhood and the impact of our culture on children. He defines childhood as containing several important elements -- the leading: innocence, joy and trust.
If these are some of the most critical elements, how are we doing?
Barna found that, while most children are physically safe and have the basics they need, there are reasons to be concerned about the environment in which they are shaped. Most will abuse substances at some point; most will experience fear due to violence around them; and most will struggle to understand sexuality in a healthy way.
"The end result of growing up in this challenging culture will be a country of adults whose standards have been lowered and whose sensitivities have been blunted. Most of the gifts of childhood are rapidly becoming extinct," Barna said.
How do we pull back from the extinction and reestablish a flourishing culture for children? We intentionally give children a childhood -- focusing on a return to innocence.
Corrie Ten Boom, heroine of the Nazi concentration camps, attributes her high standards and keen sensitivities to her father's shaping of her childhood. When she was 10, someone spoke vulgar words in her presence, which she asked her father to explain. He responded, "Corrie, you see this heavy briefcase I carry? Would it be fair for me to ask you to carry it?" When Corrie acknowledged she couldn't bear the weight, her father responded, "In the same way, some knowledge is too heavy for you to bear." Mr. Ten Boom understood his role to protect his child's innocence.
See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.