Advent: A child shall lead them
Today we begin our second week of Advent. Its theme is 'A child shall lead them' and Isaiah 11.1-10.
After years spent listening to children and young people about what matters to them, Jim Davis, our Good Childhood Coordinator, reflects on the impact of our expectations of children and young people.
If we listened, where would children lead us?
We don’t put children up chimneys anymore. Or expect them to haul coal trucks underground, or to clean between looms and machines.
We don’t have jobs for children to do, we don’t want children to be doing dangerous but useful things that only children can do.
We have made progress and we have secured the right for children to be free of the burdens of work and industry. But we have nothing that we specifically want children to do anymore, except to make good and useful adults.
We don’t have anything that we want children to lead on or to develop for us. We don’t even want children to lead themselves.
We need them to be in lines of high visibility jackets, in tightly controlled groups, as we lead them where we want them to go.
We need them to be protected, safe, educated and prepared for the challenges of adult life, which makes it all too easy for us to ignore where they might want to go and where they might lead us.
What if we did listen? Where might children lead us?
In all our consultations with children, every time we listen to what they have to say on virtually any subject they lead us back to the same place. They lead us to the people that matter in their lives. Sometimes they lead us to where those people should be and they are not, sometimes they lead us to see people that we don’t, sometimes they lead us to ourselves.
But they always lead us to their relationships because that is what matters most in their lives . . . and then we discover that they have lead us to where we need to be as well.