The news tells us today that life in the UK is not good for children. Having just returned from mainland Europe I can only agree. This isn’t a problem that can be solved by raising families out of poverty (though that will help); it isn’t going to be solved by improved schooling (though of course education is vital to every child); this is a problem of attitude.
In Spain last week a number of complete strangers, usually men, ruffled the top of my youngest son’s head. Each time it happens I expect him to go ballistic – he hates people touching him! But somehow they seem to get away with it. Why? Because they did it unthinkingly, with confident love of a child, any child, and without any need for reaction. And youngest tolerates it quite happily.
Not many men in England would confidently touch a child they didn’t know – we have robbed them of a natural relationship with children, by suspicion and ridiculous, (almost always) unfounded fear. And we behave as though children were a problem, not a joy. The two elderly ladies who muscled in front of a family with two young children getting off the flight had tutted about the noise from the children through the journey. Then they didn’t even have the common sense to let them off a crowded plane. How daft was that?
Jesus was the exemplar of behaviour with children. The child brought into the midst of the crowd by Jesus was not humiliated, not made to answer adult questions, just placed near to a safe man, and looked at in love. It was clearly a good place to be, or the kid would have kicked up a fuss.
Have you been to church lately – too many children kicking up a fuss, because church is often not a good place to be! I’m sure your church is wonderful with children – I wish more people in some places acted as though they valued children. It could change our churches. It could even change society’s attitude to children. Showing children that we like them could make all the difference.