The criticism is connected to salvation. The thrust of the criticism is the individual, personal choice for salvation on the part of Christian parents and how this does little to help their children who, it is assumed, will be left to fend for themselves in an increasingly hellish world once the parents depart from mortal life.
I suppose I could get into the problems of framing the matter in such a way or approaching the subject from the perspective of anxiety, but I won't.
Instead, I will touch upon some basic metaphysical assumptions I hold. When approached superficially, these metaphysical assumptions may provide little comfort to anxious Christian parents concerned about the well-being of their children in a world that grows darker by the day, but I hope that said anxious Christian parents will engage the assumptions I have outlined regardless.
The first assumption is that my child is God’s child first. That God knows him and loves him as much as I do – and more. God allowed my child to be born into this world in this time and place because He understands that the experience offers my child the opportunity to reap immense spiritual benefits accessed only through the experience of mortal life. He would not have allowed my child to be born into this world in this time and place if the opportunity for such benefits were inaccessible or impossible. Because God loves my child, He has faith that my child possesses -- or can access -- what is needed to make the choice for salvation and will work actively to guide my child toward this choice.
The second assumption centers on my understanding that mortal life in this world is inevitably and unavoidably entropic. Entropy continuously chips away at the temporary order we sometimes experience. Every person who embarks on the journey of mortal life dies. Some die young, some tragically, and some violently. Others live long, extended lives filled with vitality and vigor, but even they ultimately succumb to the forces of sickness, age, and decay. Thus, the material aliveness of individual beings in this world is temporary. Nothing “material” in this world lasts forever. Barring sudden accidents or illnesses, we will grow old, wither, and die like our great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents. Our children, my child, will do the same. However, the entropic state of the world also allows for the possibility of creativity. Our worldly creations are not free from entropy, but the creative acts themselves live on eternally.
The third assumption accepts the reality of suffering in this mortal life. The continuous onslaught of disorder on temporary order ensures varying degrees of suffering, primarily physical. Yet physical suffering also induces psychological and spiritual suffering. A big part of our experience in this mortal life involves “dealing with” suffering, including my child’s suffering.
The fourth assumption concerns Jesus’s gift of salvation and eternal life. Although we inhabit an entropic world of unavoidable suffering and death, we can choose to overcome this world by believing on Jesus and following Him into everlasting life. This gift of salvation and eternal life is also available to my child who, like us, is an eternal spiritual being. I, as a parent, must accept that my child existed before he came into this world as my son. Moreover, my child’s experience in this entropic world of suffering and death is the only knowable means through which he can accept Jesus’s gift of salvation and eternal life. Without this experience, my son would likely not have the opportunity to follow Jesus into Heaven.
The fifth assumption – a fact rather than an assumption – stems from the understanding that the choice for salvation and Heaven is deeply individual and personal. As a Christian parent, I may succeed in providing my child with the best possible material and spiritual conditions in this entropic world. I may even succeed in protecting him from much of the evil infesting the world; however, in the end, nothing I do as a parent protects him completely (nor should it) or guarantees his salvation for the simple reason that his salvation is entirely up to him, in the same way that my salvation is entirely up to me. I can guide, nurture, and assist my son toward choosing salvation and Heaven, but I cannot decide for him. I cannot ensure his salvation. Nor can I force him into salvation and Heaven. I must accept that my child may – despite my best intentions and actions – reject Jesus’s offer.
I could go on, but I think the above suffice to paint a fairly clear picture of my basic assumptions concerning protecting children and ensuring their salvation. These assumptions do not entail that there is a set formula for raising children in this world and protecting them from evil, but they do provide a basis – at least for me. Having said that, all parents must do their best within the conditions of their own individual circumstances.
So, with all that in mind, what have I done to protect my child and guide him toward salvation?
In terms of externals, my wife and I took the opportunity to move away from the Anglo world and settle in a rural part of Hungary. We hoped the move would shield my son from some of the blatant evil that permeates the Anglo-West, particularly in education. However, Hungary is very far from immune from the evils that plague the West proper. Nonetheless, we believe the move has managed to spare our son from some of the most obvious harm.
It helps that nearly all of the families in the village we live in are cohesive and Christian-oriented. Divorces and “dysfunctional” families are the exceptions rather than the rule. Living in a small community of six hundred has also allowed my son to nurture relationships he may not have nurtured in larger, urban settings. The pastoral surroundings have also imbued him with a closer connection to nature, but the entropic nature of the world is still there, chipping away.
Being able to purchase a home debt-free has alleviated some of the financial stresses and struggles that sometimes taint family life.
Attending the small Roman Catholic Church in the village and the Roman Catholic school in a nearby town provides my son with a sense of community and some of the externals of Christianity, which I believe are helpful for children. Thankfully, the Catholic faith here has not been completely poisoned by leftism, but it is still very much aligned with the System. Three years ago, my son made the personal choice to serve as an altar boy and continues to do so to this day. Though I hope my son eventually becomes a Romantic Christian, I know that Romantic Christianity is an adult choice. For now, it is enough for him to understand basic Christian beliefs about salvation and Heaven “as a child”.
When it comes to Christian “teaching” at home, my wife and I have chosen to employ a light touch. Though I sometimes speak about general Christian matters, my wife and I have intuitively decided upon a “show rather than tell” approach. When my son is older, I hope to be able to discuss Christianity with him in a more direct manner.
In terms of media, my wife and I make efforts to shield our son from noxious material, particularly online, but we do not expressly forbid him from exploring secular media, for the simple reason that we know such prohibition would likely only increase curiosity and generate rebellion.
These external choices have served us well thus far, but they have their obvious limits. There really is no “place” you can go to protect your child. Some places may be better than others, but no place is “safe”. Furthermore, there's only so much you can do to protect your child and being overprotective probably does more harm than good.
For example, our current location puts us fairly close to the raging proxy war in the east and another potential conflict simmering just to the south. As far as countries go, Hungary is still firmly within the EU and the System. It has a tragic history, mostly because of its location, and that inherent historical tragedy is still unfolding today. Many Hungarians are no better than their atheistic, leftist counterparts in the West. The culture is predominately secular and materialistic. Furthermore, even if I could provide my son with the ideal “place” to grow up, that ideal place will change, or he may decide to move away to a less ideal place one day.
The current economic environment ensures that whatever financial freedom we have enjoyed as a family is steadily being encroached upon and eroded away via inflation and various “global crises.”
Attending church and a religious school offers no protection against anything, including rejecting God. On the contrary, such experiences often breed passivity or System conformity or, sometimes, fortify the choice against God and Creation. Modeling and infusing Christian living at home likewise guarantees nothing. Avoiding or criticizing leftist media and culture also offers no safeguard against the media and culture.
And none of what I have outlined above addresses unforeseen challenges, misfortunes, and tragedies in the form of accidents, illnesses, war, economic collapse, or what have you.
When all is said and done, I view family life in this world as an ideal. It is an ideal that I must approach with the right motivations and into which I invest a great deal of effort. Naturally, I wish to protect my son from evil and guide him toward salvation. However, despite my best intentions and motivations, I know I cannot fully protect my son, nor can I ensure his salvation.
I can do my best to make the world a positive, nurturing, loving place, but I have to accept that the world often works in the opposite direction. I also have to accept that this is "the best that can be done".
Also, I can do my best to make my son aware of Jesus’s offer and encourage him to accept it, but I cannot, as a parent, make that choice for him. Neither can Christ. The choice is his. Such is the nature of freedom. Such is the nature of his personal agency and "power."
All I can do after I have honestly done my best is have faith – faith that my son will align with Truth on his own. Faith that I will be able to help my son should I depart this world before him. Faith that my time with my son will not be restricted to our time together in this world.
There are a thousand more things I could say or should say, but I'll leave it there for now.