“The Parent Trap” – Ross Douthat provides commentary on the recent trend of parents being arrested for mostly unfounded claims of “child endangerment.”
“Here are two things that didn’t happen. My (lawyer) father did not call the police and have the coach arrested for reckless endangerment of a minor. And nobody who saw me picking my way home alone thought to call the police on my parents, or to charge them with neglect for letting their child slip free of perfect safety for an hour.
Today they might not have been so lucky. For instance, they might have ended up like the Connecticut mother who earned a misdemeanor for letting her 11-year-old stay in the car while she ran into a store. Or the mother charged with “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” after a bystander snapped a photo of her leaving her 4-year-old in a locked, windows-cracked car for five minutes on a 50 degree day. Or the Ohio father arrested in front of his family for “child endangerment” because — unbeknown to him — his 8-year-old had slipped away from a church service and ended up in a nearby Family Dollar.
Or (I’m just getting warmed up) like the mother of four, recently widowed, who left her children — the oldest 10, the youngest 5 — at home together while she went to a community-college class; her neighbor called the police, protective services took the kids, and it took a two-year legal fight to pry them back from foster care. Or like the parents from two familieswho were arrested after their girls, two friends who were 5 and 7, cut through a parking lot near their houses — again without the parents’ knowledge — and were spotted by a stranger who immediately called the police.”
“First is the upper-class, competition-driven vision of childhood as a rigorously supervised period in which unattended play is abnormal, risky, weird. This perspective hasn’t just led to “the erosion of child culture,” to borrow a quote from Hanna Rosin’s depressing Atlantic essay on “The Overprotected Kid”; it has encouraged bystanders and public servants to regard a deviation from constant supervision as a sign of parental neglect.
Second is the disproportionate anxiety over child safety, fed by media coverage of every abduction, every murdered child, every tragic “hot car” death. Such horrors are real, of course, but the danger is wildly overstated: Crime rates are down, abductions and car deaths are both rare, and most of the parents leaving children (especially non-infants) in cars briefly or letting them roam a little are behaving perfectly responsibly.”
“Third is an erosion of community and social trust, which has made ordinary neighborliness seem somehow unnatural or archaic, and given us instead what Gracy Olmstead’s article in The American Conservative dubs the “bad Samaritan” phenomenon — the passer-by who passes the buck to law enforcement as expeditiously as possible. (Technology accentuates this problem: Why speak to a parent when you can just snap a smartphone picture for the cops?)”
Related: Check out this infographic on the very minimal risk of “stranger danger” kidnappings, contrasted with the disproportionate fear-mongering that has left many parents paralyzed to allow their children to have what was once considered normal childhood.
“Three immodestly dressed women walk into a church…” – Just a few months ago, my husband recounted to me his vivid childhood memory of a woman being asked to leave his church because she was wearing a crop top. And just this month, a member of that same church posted his idea that women be given shawls so that any unexpected incidents of immodesty would not create distraction during a worship service. While not all churches may take this understanding of modesty so far, I believe it is nonetheless indicative of a subcultural misunderstanding of both the purpose of the church, worship, and where we all fit in under the Gospel. This article provides a helpful perspective for us as individuals and as community.
“She picked out what she thought was the most appropriate skirt for a church service. It rested just a few inches above her knees. It was the longest skirt she had. She looked at the clock and realized she was rushed for time, so she quickly threw on a pair of high heeled sandals and chose a tank top and headed out the door.
As she walked into the church with her friend, she caught the disapproving glances of a couple of women around her. Her friend introduced her to a few people…but by now it just felt awkward. Even before the service started, she was convinced she didn’t fit in.”
“So, why DO we sometimes find ourselves angry or agitated at the immodesty dressed woman? Why the impatience? Why the frustration? Why the internal eye rolling and even self righteous thoughts of thinking we know better than she does?
Why isn’t our first reaction to the immodestly dressed woman one of,
“You are my sister. I love you! I don’t condemn you.” ?
Maybe it is fear. Fear of our husbands finding another woman beautiful. If that is the case, we can know we aren’t trusting the gospel in that situation. Because if my identity is rooted in Christ’s love for me, I won’t fear other beautiful women. I will trust my Father in heaven is sanctifying and offering my husband the same grace he gives me when he is tempted to sin.
When I am truly seeing the love and grace that has been offered to me in Jesus, I will be able to extend that same grace to my husband, instead of holding him under the law. Because sin isn’t an ‘if’ question, it’s a ‘when’ question. “
“From the teenage girl walking into church in a miniskirt, to the mother walking in who just impatiently yelled at her kids again, to the woman sitting in the pew in her pantsuit thinking God will love her more because her body is covered up…we are all broken, sinful people, in need of a lot of grace.
C.S. Lewis said this about our hearts, regarding modest dress,
“A real desire to believe all the good you can of others and to make others as comfortable as you can will solve most of the problems.”
Let’s start praying that the gospel so invades our hearts that we are able to give to others, what we so undeservingly have already received. Only when that happens will we truly be able to demonstrate gospel modesty.
And then… start imagining what it would feel like to throw away our internal lists of all the expectations that we put on ourselves, and others. That’s a scary kind of freedom that is offered to us. Grace can be dangerous like that. “
“Look at Jesus. He was perfect, right? And yet he goes around crying all the time. He is always weeping, a man of sorrows. Do you know why? Because he is perfect. Because when you are not all absorbed in yourself, you can feel the sadness of the world. And therefore, what you actually have is that the joy of the Lord happens inside the sorrow. It doesn’t come after the sorrow. It doesn’t come after the uncontrollable weeping. The weeping drives you into the joy, it enhances the joy, and then the joy enables you to actually feel your grief without its sinking you. In other words, you are finally emotionally healthy.” ~ Timothy Keller