“I’m bored!” It may be my least favorite child saying, and one I hear in my house at least once a week. And while it’s usually short-term boredom we’re talking about, the kind that can be quickly conquered, boredom has become a Goliath in our modern age. Jerram Barrs, resident scholar at Covenant Seminary’s Francis Schaeffer Institute, suggests some reasons why. The title of his piece, originally published in the seminary’s magazine but available online, is provocative for me as a teacher and parent: “Everything is Interesting: Raising Educated People.” I commend it to your reading, but following are some highlights.
Barrs puts television at the top of his list of boredom-inducing phenomena, and the Luddite in me rejoices at that. But he makes an important distinction between television per se and television (and video games) misused, which he says “takes away that fascination, that delighted interest in everything which is natural to children.”
Lest we think that jettisoning the TV will be the perfect stone for the boredom giant, Barrs next targets parental involvement. The difficulty here stems somewhat from our culture (which Barrs will talk about afterward): Parents are bored, too. Look around at the mall, in restaurants, in parks–in short, everywhere. You’ll see many people with their heads down, looking at a screen; others will have headphones on, listening to music. Our need for constant amusement is a monster that roars for our attention.
Some of us need to learn (or remember) how to engage with our children. Some of us simply need to put what we know into practice.
Barrs makes a third suggestion: our culture encourages boredom rather than deep fascination with the world. He says they are being simultaneously “schooled in the ‘meaninglessness’ of life” and “bombarded” with consumerism.
This “perfect storm” of influences makes raising children who love and glorify God in all of life seem impossible. And even considering this challenge from Barrs may feel like a beating. Thankfully, he reminds his readers that grace is key:
It may be a time for deep repentance in your own heart and a change of pattern of life and priorities. We all need great grace and wisdom from the Lord to care for the children who are entrusted to us. None of us will be perfect as we take this responsibility seriously. But by the grace of God we can lead children to develop into people who are always learning and interested in the world around them, just as they were created to be.