Jea Bethke Elshtain offers a wonderfully nuanced model of Christian social/political engagement "for the children." Heres a chunk:
our cultural milieu is one in which the norm is both parents working outside the home, exhausted and busy. It values success and drivenness, measuring success through monetary reward. It glamorizes celebrity and ignores the hard work people do every day to raise children and sustain neighborhoods, to make life less brutal and more decent and kind. It is a milieu of pervasive family fragmentation if not outright breakdown, to which many children respond with anger and "acting out." In this milieu every personal question, and many public questions, are medicalized and psychologized; new drugs are touted not only to the public but to the medical profession via lavish marketing stratagems and budgets.
Christians begin their reflections on this cultural setting with the gift and integrity of the bodies and beings of children. They go on to consider the gift of time and how precious it is. They consider the concreteness of the Christian message—do unto others here and now, not in the distant future, not in an abstract way. Do not ignore the person before you. This, in turn, invites critical reflection on whether we are rushing to diagnose children as "troubled" or "hyperactive" in part because parents no longer spend concentrated time with their children and prefer them to be pacified when they are with them. Such reflection suggests that radical and uncontrolled experimentation on Americas children, by way of powerful drugs, many with known, deleterious side-effects, absent knowledge of long-range effects, may be undertaken at least as much for the convenience of adults as it is for the benefit of children.
Any assault on the integrity of the human body should be of heightened concern to the Christian because Christianity is an exquisitely embodied religion. We recall sobering moments from the past when children—and adults—were quickly labeled "antisocial" or "incorrigible," institutionalized and forgotten. Now we think we are humane in rushing to medicalize, often against the advice of cautious voices within the medical community as to the alleged benefits and the many known dangers of massive drug use. One doctor cited in the Times spoke of children put on "three or four different drugs," each of which created new symptoms and side effects, before going on to ask: "How do you even know who the kid is anymore?"
That is a frightening sentence: how do you even know who this child is? If we believe every child is claimed by his or her Creator, we should be alarmed by a social milieu where children are treated instrumentally, where pacification of children rather than care and attention to each child in his and her particularity becomes a social norm. We are against this. What are we for? Minimally, we are for taking a hard look at how children are faring in our society. That, in turn, can spur transformation, especially in what I have called "the politics of time." Good, old-fashioned time is what so many children need. How can a society that pretends to be child-centered justify culturally approved neglect? It goes without saying that neglect comes in many forms: tens of thousands of privileged children are neglected in the way I am noting here.
Whats a child- or family-friendly policy in this context?