“There Is No Second Place”: A World Where College Beats Out Compassion

raising children

Being a parent is really hard. Like, really hard. You get through the nine months of crazy symptoms that would ordinarily send you to the ER, grit your teeth through the labor pains, then they hand you this tiny little human to keep alive. It’s not like the egg experiment in high school. You don’t get to just not break it for a few weeks. You gotta not break it forever. Or roughly [18] years. No worries, though. The labor and delivery nurse pats you on the back, hollahs “good luck sucker,” then sends you on your way with only rudimentary knowledge of how that seat for the car thingy works.

Ok, so you make it through the first couple of weeks without accident. After you tackled the fear of bumping their little head (with the fleshy piece protecting their brain) up against door frames, you feel pretty confident. I mean, you still sleep with one eye open and stare at them in the middle of the night to make sure their chest is rising and falling, but overall you feel pretty legit. Heck, by the time they’re two you have a handle on the parenting thing. Sorta. I mean, kinda. You even start thinking about having another one.

I think you get my point. Parenting ain’t easy. No matter which way you slice it. You can feel pretty confident with it one day, and then the next they’ll successfully knock you down a peg. Children are humbling. You think you have one phase of childhood or the parenting paradox navigated, but then you enter another challenging stage.

I have three daughters, and while newborn-coupled-with-toddler-while-teaching-homeschool rocked my world, the thing I hear most from people to watch out for are the teenage years.

“Just you wait until they’re all going through puberty at once,” a well-meaning acquaintance will say.

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And while I’m not even ready to think about such a thing, I’m also not convinced that will be the toughest thing I face. I believe the hardest part of parenting I come against is already here. And that is trying to raise a child in the selfish society we have become. Attempting to instill morals in a morally corrupt world is no easy task. Convincing my girls to be selfless in today’s selfish world is a challenge. In a society that’s all about “me,” and one that places far too much importance on outward appearance, what others think, and making a name for yourself, it’s like the deck is stacked against you. It’s an unfair fight.

Today’s parenting examples show picture-perfect photos of little girls in designer duds or snapshots of tweens who look like they’re [20]. We have no problem toting our kiddos’ goodies for the world to see. Smile for the camera.

Today’s parenting examples celebrate learning to read before three or enrolling in an elite daycare while they’re still in the womb. It’s a society that pushes for number one, plays sports seven days a week, and gives such motivational wisdom as only the strongest survive. Or weakness is for losers.

We’re a world of winners. Everyone wants to be an American Idol, Instafamous, trend on Twitter, or get a million YouTube hits. It’s all about the likes, the followers, and how many “friends” you can amass.

We’ve become a community that places importance on face value or what’s on the outside. We place even more value on test scores and class ranking. It’s not about the person you are, but rather, what you become. You have to make something of yourself, for goodness sake!

We are currently raising children in a society that does absolutely whatever it takes to get a kid into a good college. Or rather, a prestigious one. We’re raising children in a society where the kids who work hard, study, and do “the right thing” can be pushed out of a spot they earned by someone who’s better at lining pockets. We have to raise children in a world where we want to tell them to keep their nose clean, hit the books, and do well. That it will pay off. Except, we live in a world where that’s not always true. It’s a world where so much value is placed on materialistic expectations that good grades and morals aren’t enough to get them ahead. They’ll be stepped on and over by the vultures who seek the top position and will pick the bones clean of anyone who gets in the way. That’s the world we’re living in!

If you missed the news about Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman lately, here’s what I’m talking about.

I desire to teach my girls to be kind, compassionate, and to turn the other cheek. Yet I am faced with the task of raising them amidst the polar opposite.

I try and tell them they’re beautiful on the inside and out. Society says your waist needs to be smaller, your butt needs to be bigger, and your lips need to be fuller. Here’s an ad for a waist-shaping corset!

I try and tell them to be a good friend, to help the helpless, to lend a hand. Society today tells them to step on people like stairs to reach the top.

I face the monumental task of raising my girls to be ethical and compassionate. I try and teach them how Jesus said the first would be last, and the last first. Yet they’re surrounded by a world that stands in opposition to that. They’re pressed in from all sides by a world that says there is no second place. If I was not so firm in my convictions I too might be swayed by the masses of parenting peers who place value on anything but what’s on the inside or loving others.

So if you’re just starting out on this parenting thing and you think the newborn/colicky period is the worst, I got news for you. You haven’t even scratched the [surface]. It’s not a certain age or phase, like terrible twos, threenado, or mean teens. It’s from now until the day you die. From the moment you put on the parenting badge of honor, you are responsible to raise a decent human being who is a positive influence [on] his/her peers. And not for any credit to themselves or even you. It’s to God’s glory that we as Christians must rise above the muck and mire of this world. We must teach our children the same. By example. And certainly not by cheating on college entrance exams or buying your admission.

Brie Gowen
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Brie Gowen is a 30-something (sliding ever closer to 40-something) wife and mother. When she’s not loving on her hubby, chasing after the toddler or playing princess with her four-year-old, she enjoys cooking, reading and writing down her thoughts to share with others. Brie is also a huge lover of Jesus. She finds immense joy in the peace a relationship with her Savior provides, and she might just tell you about it sometime. She’d love for you to check out her blog at