Growth and Nurture in Early Years of Human Life

Whether we recognise it or not, and whether we wish it or not, we all live under discipline, not from the "cradle to the grave" but from conception to death. That discipline to which we are all subject begins in the womb, where we are restricted and subjected to our mother's love or rejection, her will, our freewill, our developing genetic make-up from our parents' DNA and various other factors. Here too begin our life experiences good or bad, our physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual variations. When we declare our age, should we not, strictly speaking, add 9 months to the total? We are such complex beings that even cloning cannot ensure that absolutely identical people can be achieved - thank God!

This is not an answer to the Psalmist's question "What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou dost care for him? Yet thou hast made him a little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honour." (Psalm 8 4-5).

As babies and children develop and grow, provided they are not stunted or defective in body mind or spirit or formed into a mould or way of life by well-meaning but misguided or even evil-minded persons, they will, for better or worse, develop a personal character and discipline by which they live.

Those who can see and hold a baby in their hands without being stirred with a feeling of wonder and love must surely have missed, (even if it is not one's own child), the most precious experience and joy that life can afford. Even if, (and why say "even if"?), the little one is not perfect, then that child should be even more loved.

We know that those who baptise or bring to baptism a little child all agree that "there never was such a wonderful child!" - as the parents often aver.

Yet there is something more that must be said, which fills us with concern and a mixture of joy and anxiety, and that is, that as we look at this wonderful "gift of God" we say (with Luke 1 66), "What manner of child shall this be?" Knowing that the nurture and upbringing of all children in discipline and responsibility is our duty and privilege, we may well consider this a sobering and daunting experience to contemplate!

Previous page | Main Start page | Wisdom Start page | Next page