Last week our family hit a milestone: our first child started preschool. It’s hard to believe how fast time flew by. It feels like we brought her home from the hospital not that long ago, and now we are dropping her off at school. As we look back on the last few years, we are so thankful that God has led us through all of the good times and gave us strength through the tough times. We are also thankful that God gave my wife and I the ability to be involved in our kids’ lives.
As we were sitting and talking about how thankful we are, we also talked about how many families struggle to raise their kids in a home that contributes to their long-term well-being. Looking at the statistics shows just how dire the situation is.
- 25% of children under 3 live in poverty and 48% of children under 3 live in low-income households. Living in poverty diminishes brain development in babies. (Poverty’s Effect on Infants and Toddlers Infographic)
- Only 50% of mothers take any paid time off after the birth of a child. (Working Family Infographic)
- As of 2020 there are 18.5 million kids living in a single-parent household. That adds up to almost a quarter of children under the age of 18 living with one parent and no other adult. Many of these single parents are working more than one job. (Pew Research Center: US has world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households.)
The negative statistics go on and on. What this data highlights is that many kids today are not receiving the attention and care that they need for healthy development. Missing out on that attention and care will put them at a disadvantage in their future as they will likely fall behind on their mental, academic, and spiritual development.
At the same time when many families are struggling to balance between work and focusing on providing their kids the attention they need to grow and develop, the schooling and childcare programs as a whole are not getting better. Many neighborhoods lack the programs that kids need, while the ones that do exist are too expensive for many families.
Ever since the pandemic started, we have all been hearing people say, “I wonder what the new normal will look like”. While it is still hard to tell what that will look like, I pray and hope that it will include a baby- and kid-friendly environment where parents can invest more time in their kids’ lives, where mentorship programs thrive, and where there can be affordable, high-quality day-care and after-school programs so that kids can get the quality care and education they need starting at a young age.
Fortunately, churches are well positioned to take an active role in children’s lives through the ministries they offer. As I talk to pastors, I am encouraged that many churches put a great emphasis on their children’s ministry. They constantly share how vital that ministry is to their church—not just in giving kids a good Christian environment they can grow up in, but also in bringing the families as a whole into the church and getting them plugged into ministry.
So, as we continue to move out of the pandemic and into the future, please remember to pray for your church’s children’s ministry and the kids attending it. One day these babies and kids will grow up and be the leaders of our churches, businesses, and governments.