Why I Asked My Son to Serve Me

Yesterday I went to the movies with my 11 year old son along with his class for a field trip, and I asked him to serve me while we were there. I wanted him to look out for me, purchase my snacks, and make sure I was cared for and protected.

I admit it felt weird.

The Children’s Job is to Serve the Adults.

Our culture has slowly but distinctly made a shift in the way we raise our children. Children are served by adults, instead of children being raised to serve the adults in their lives.

Do you agree with this statement?

The children’s job is to make the parents happy, not the other way around.

Does that statement make you uncomfortable? I admit it makes me a bit uncomfortable. Why?

Mike and I have been watching videos by attachment expert Nancy Thomas, and she teaches this concept. Children are to serve and honor parents, not the other way around. When children know their place in the family, they feel security.

If a child becomes the head of a family, this gives them way too much power. Dad is the King and Mom is the Queen.

We should never allow our children to treat us as a doormat. If our children are under us and we are a doormat, what is under the doormat? Dirt. What does that make our children?

Our children’s ministry director has commented before, “It used to be parents would pick up their children from Sunday School and ask, ‘Were you good today?’ Now parents pick up their children and ask, ‘Did you have fun?’ Those are totally different concepts.”

Our whole family has been practicing Tae Kwon Do this last year, and I’ve been fascinated by what I’m learning about how respect is taught in Korean culture. The younger student serves the senior (older) student and the lower rank serves the higher rank. Lower ranks carry bags and equipment for older ranks. The master of our school is never to be left alone. She is of the highest worth to us, and we honor her by being with her. Bowing, shaking hands, and a “Yes, Sir,” or “Yes, Ma’am,” response is always expected. None of this is questioned.

How to Raise a Gentleman

Back to the movies. Our son faces emotional challenges, and we spend a good amount of time helping him manage his behavior. In short, we serve him often. This is not bad, but as I’ve been reflecting on how we are raising him, I’ve realized perhaps we are doing some of this backwards. Despite our best intentions, we are still doing a great deal of giving, and he needs to do — must do — more serving.

I want to raise my sons to be gentlemen. A gentleman helps others feel comfortable in his presence. As part of his nature, he looks for ways to serve.

While we were riding the bus to the movies, amidst the clamor of the elementary school kid chatter, I turned to my son for a private conversation.

“Son, you are really growing up. You are a gentleman now. A gentleman’s responsibility is to take care of other people. That is a big responsibility.”

“I don’t want to be a gentleman, then. I want to stay a little kid.”

“Hmm, well, that is interesting, since little kids don’t get to stay up late and watch TV. Or go down to the park to play. With growing up comes more responsibility, and more privileges.”

“Okay, I’ll grow up. Fine. I’ll be a gentleman.”

“That’s great. Your job as a gentleman today is to keep an eye out for me. Please make sure I’m not getting lost in the crowd, and I know where I am going. Here is the money for our snack. You’ll need to find out what I want to order and order for both of us.”

“Cool! Can I buy whatever I want? Can I keep the change?”

“Let’s discuss it after we get through this field trip.”

I believe we can support one another in this. Moms can ask children to show respect to dads, and fathers can teach children how to offer more service to moms. We as parents can teach our children how to show more respect to teachers and other adults in their lives.

When we ask our children to serve and honor adults in their lives, we will be giving our children an incredible gift.

Do you believe it’s the children’s job to serve the adults? Why or why not?