Tuesday, March 04, 2008

No More Jellyfish, Chickens, or Wimps (Part 1)

I recently completed reading No More Jellyfish, Chickens, or Wimps by Paul Coughlin. The book aims to help parents raise secure and assertive children in a tough world. I found it to be fascinating and very helpful.

I plan to share several quotes from the book along with some of my comments during the month of March.

After analyzing the psychological problems that many young people confront today (such as depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse), Mr. Coughlin starts to list some of the contributing factors to the problems. He asserts that children have been taught to live with timidity by parents, teachers, and churches. While we have the best of intentions, we are raising children to be compliant and sweet rather than righteous and courageous. As a result, our children are suffering from inhibitions that are driving them toward unhealthy thinking and living.

He writes, "Here's a huge part of the problem: Christians are raising some of our culture's wimpiest kids. I don't say that they're becoming wimpy because we're teaching them to be humble and training them to embrace patience. They're going out into the world as wimps because we parents are ignoring the broader counsel of God, pushing away character traits that make us uncomfortable and pretending that being disengaged from the world is actually about holiness and purity, when more often it's about fear and a lack of love...

"We're often either marginalizing or largely eradicating such rugged virtues as shrewdness, boldness, and courage. These aspects of integrity require an active and assertive approach toward life---but many Christians think being assertive is wrong. As a result, we're bringing up our kids to be so sweet and compliant that I wouldn't be surprised if the federal government and armed forces commissioned studies to determine whether or not children who grew up in churches are capable of defending our country" (pp. 14-15).

The last sentence of the first paragraph above struck me. How often have I been disengaged from something or someone because I either feared the situation or lacked love for the people involved? How many time have I tried to convince myself that I was being holy or pure by remaining uninvolved? How pathetic! I don't want to live like that, and I don't want to teach others to live like that either. I want to live by faith and love, not in fear and apathy.

This book can nudge parents to live with the boldness God always intended and to teach their children to do the same. It can inspire us to courageous and assertive living for the sake of Christ.

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