Christian parents should, of course, lovingly teach their children the truths of the Christian faith. Christian parents should also do their best to model the Christian faith well, by God’s grace. We need teach our kids theological truths and truths about morality and ethics – even ethics like working with our hands, being self-sufficient, and not being lazy (e.g. Prov. 6:6, 1 Thes. 4:11-12, etc.).
Christian parents should love and care for their children with grace and patience, but parents are not their children’s servants. In other words, we should raise our children to learn to do things for themselves so they don’t always depend on others to do things for them. If we spoil our kids by doing things for them that they could do themselves, by never disciplining them, and by letting them lazily glide through childhood, we’re not doing anyone a favor. Martin Luther said this very well in a 1519 sermon he gave on the estate of marriage:
You could do no more disastrous work than to spoil the children, let them curse and swear, let them learn profane words and vulgar songs, and just let them do as they please. What is more, some parents use enticements to be more alluring to meet the dictates of the world of fashion, so that they may please only the world, get ahead, and become rich, all the time giving more attention to the care of the body than to the due care of the soul. There is no greater tragedy in Christendom than spoiling children. If we want to help Christendom, we most certainly have to start with the children, as happened in earlier times.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, p. 390.
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2 Replies to “The Disastrous Work of Spoiling Your Children (Luther)”
It is a commandment for children to honor their father and mother. To spoil children is to harm their ability to cope in life.
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