Let children decide for themselves?
“Why not let Opie decide for himself?”
“No, I’m afraid it don’t work that way. You can’t let a young’n decide for himself. He’ll grab at the first flashy thing with shiny ribbons on it. Then, when he finds out there’s a hook in it, it’s too late. Wrong ideas come packaged with so much glitter that it’s hard to convince ’em that other things might be better in the long run. All a parent can do is say ‘wait’ and ‘trust me’ and try to keep temptation away.”
— Andy speaks to a hobo on The Andy Griffith Show
Perhaps the Mayberry ideal is gone forever, if it ever existed in the real world, but the truth will always be the truth. And the truth is, responsible parents do not let their immature, developing children decide for themselves. As Susanna Wesley so aptly stated:
The parent who studies to subdue self-will in his child works together with God in the saving of a soul. The parent who indulges self-will does the devil’s work, makes religion impractical, salvation unattainable and does all that is in him to drown his child, soul and body forever.
The Bible does not say, “Train up a child in the way he wants to go.” It says, “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Pr 22:6). And what is that way he should go? “Fathers, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).