There is another danger in sports that can cause you to lose your child's heart--the coach. It is a fact that those under a coach's authority are highly influenced by him. In other words, the hearts of the team members are drawn to their coach. Even if the coach is a positive role model, if your child's heart is pulled to him, it is being drawn away from you. When that happens, your ability to guide your child's life is potentially diminished. Why allow this?After reading this section of the book, it finally became clear to me what the needling sensation was that has overridden the entire course of the book. Something had been prodding me about the Maxwells' general attitude toward their children and though I agree with the general principle behind sheltering, the key premise of the book, as well as how essential sheltering is to keeping your child's heart, it became clear to me that the Maxwells are pushing for an authoritarianism I am not completely comfortable with.
My seven-year old daughter plays soccer so my ire was not provoked simply because I have a daughter playing a sport. However, the Maxwells are following a "b necessarily follows a" pattern. Just because my daughter plays soccer does not mean we will lose her heart; quite the contrary. I can see their concerns and how that might be troubling for some parents, but if I have my child's heart, can I not delegate authority unto another and not feel as if my sheltering has been done in vain or fear "losing" her?
I believe that authority can be delegated in such a way. God delegates authority and I believe this is a general principle the Maxwells have overlooked. God has delegated authority to several institutions; He has given some unto government, some unto the church, some unto the family, divided upon the mother and father.
The government has authority in areas the church doesn't have; the church in areas the government does not. The family has authority the church does not have. God has delegated authority unto the husband that the wife does not have. Even Jesus recognized Himself as one under the authority of another. When my daughter plays soccer, it is necessary that she is under the authority of the coach; otherwise she will not play the game well. The Maxwells' position seems to cross the line of pure authoritarianism and not loving parenting.
Parents can effectively delegate their authority unto another without the threat of losing their child. The authority delegated to the coach is not necessarily an authority that should concern a parent. His responsibility is to teach the child to play a game--that is what I expect out of my daughter's coach. I do expect him to teach sportsmanship but that is about as close as I expect him to get to teaching values, morality, and ethics.
Authority is not a tenuous thing in my home, so that is perhaps where my umbrage arises. Sports can become an idol in a child's life yet it can also be an appropriate and beneficial activity. Not knowing the Maxwells personally I can only offer this as conjecture, but it seems that their positions on authority seem to be borne almost of paranoia of losing their own kids and that drives their premises rather than a balanced look at the Scriptures.
A family should shelter their children from horrible things in the world, but to completely disengage from society is neither healthy nor biblical. A parent ought to be comfortable delegating some authority out to another, particularly in areas where the parent has no experience (I cannot effectively teach my daughter to play soccer). If this is done correctly, the child will see no confusion there and that that person's authority extends only into the realm into which it has been delegated.