In Defense Of The Children (Nature vs Nurture)

I’m honestly still not sure why the topic (Nature vs Nurture) is still a subject of debates, especially as it concerns what may be tagged as bad behaviour in children. I’ll be something of an advocate today, so give me a few seconds to adjust my wig; I’ve not used it in recent times, and it itches a bit.

Jumping right into it, I’ve heard it being said that the bad behaviour children exhibit, may be attributable to the nature of sin that is an inherent quality of everyone that is born of the union between a man and woman.

While it is true that the nature of sin is present in children, it would be incorrect reasoning to propose that children “misbehave” solely because they have this nature of sin. If this were correct, and “Nature of Sin” equalled “acts of sin”, then anyone who did not exhibit acts of sin would presumably not have a nature of sin, and would subsequently not need the gift of salvation.

Thus, salvation would then be earned by works (the things we do), and not by Grace through Faith in the saving sacrifice of Jesus. Basic understanding of the epistles however establishes that this is not the case, and that “sin nature” is not equal to “acts of sin” though they are of course related to each other. Thinking otherwise would imperceptibly but significantly shift the responsibility of ensuring proper behavior to these children, from the shoulders of those who are mandated to watch over them.

Having established that the “acts” do not necessarily arise from the “nature”, it then stands to reason that these acts must be learned from somewhere, as most acts usually are. And where else would these children learn these acts from, than from the upright and sinless adults around them.

Someone once described children as sponges: they’re are so impressionable, and tend to soak everything their senses can pick up. I like to think that like sponges, they also bring forth what they’ve soaked up.

“As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

Psalm 127:4-5

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

Matthew 18:10

“See that you do not despise or think less of one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven [are in the presence of and] continually look upon the face of My Father who is in heaven”

A few things from the above verses are clear to us. One is that children are dear to the Heart of God, and that in His Grand plan for the universe, they have a role to play. Another thing that is clear, is who the responsibility of proper upbringing falls on. Parents/Guardians are meant to teach children what is right early on, and not children picking up these things by themselves.

I think it’s instructive that children are compared to arrows in Psalms 127. They will reach where we never may reach, and see things that we never may see. But where they end up is extremely dependent on the course they were pointed to follow as soon as they fly out from the bow.

So if there’s one thing that needs changing, it’s us- parents, and potential parents. Children learn more from what they see us do, than what they hear us say. The emphasis shouldn’t be on ways to make children do what we ask them to do, it should be on being the kind of person we hope our children become.

It is true, no child can be raised in isolation. They will go out, and they may pick up some other unpalatable behaviours from other sources. This then is the place of enforcing discipline, and not “sparing the rod”. And your discipline will then make sense (to you now, and to them now or later) because they have a reference point in you.

So when next you see a child behaving or speaking unseemingly, understand that it is not necessarily their nature. There’s a source of influence; there’s someone who has most likely put them on that trajectory.

The Children are our future. If there’s anything we toy with, it shouldn’t be the children. Pray for them, speak up for them and protect the ones you can. God helps us.

Happy Children’s Day in arrears. 🙃

3 thoughts on “In Defense Of The Children (Nature vs Nurture)

  1. Such an important conversation at this time! There’s usually no behavioural pattern that was not learnt from watching others.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

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