Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

If you teach your child to believe in everything...

There is a saying regarding bringing your children up in the faith that goes "If you teach your child to believe in everything, you teach your child to believe in nothing". This played out before my very eyes this week. Brandon's good friend, a neighbor child comes from a family that doesn't have a faith. They kind of believe in "everything". In fact sometimes the boys get together and pretend to meditate; which is obviously new age, but at the same time, I beleive, a somewhat healthy practice. So I let them do it, but instruct Brandon that he should be praying to God during this time.

Anyway, the boy's mother asked if we could sign the kids up for camp together. I thought this was a great idea, but I told her it was important to me that it be a Christian camp. (I think when you're at camp, close to nature, it is the PERFECT time to talk about God). She thought this was a good idea, and in fact she mentioned that it would be good to introduce some sort of religion while he is still young and open to it. (The boy's are nine).

Well, Monday was the first day and they had a blast... there was swimming and archery and boating, and a lesson about the armor of God and grilled cheese sandwhiches. A good time was had by all. The next day I went to pick up our neighbor (we car pooled). He came out of the house with his mother to tell me that he didn't want to go because he was uncomfortable with the emphasis on the Bible (my words) because he didn't believe the same thing and was afraid he would be treated differently if he let on. I thought this was so sad. And his mother was quite upset by it because she really wanted him to go and learn more about it, even if it wasn't for him. I said it was OK and the boys would be back next week to play.

The situation really touched my heart. I am praying for the family that this is a wake up call to the parents to become more grounded in a real faith. And I hope that Brandon's friend see's that we don't treat him any differently just because he doesn't believe. And of course we pray that the holy spirit would reveal himself to the family.

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5 Comments:

  • At 2:17 PM, Blogger Ben Meyer said…

    You can't teach a child to believe in everything, that is the default behavior we have when we are born. As young children we will believe anything and everything that is told to us. What you can do is to teach a child how to evaluate and question what is told to them.

    You really need to respect the fact that the kid was even able to tell you that he was uncomfortable. For a kid to do this takes a lot of courage. If the mother still wants to expose her child to different religions she could take him to different churches, join religious outings, or even read him some children books on different religions.

    I personally don't think a camp is the best way to introduce religion. Religious camps are really freaky for those who aren't religious to begin with. Having adults and older kids at camps tell you what they believe is true and everything else is wrong is very powerful. Religious camps are not known for their debates or education on many different religions, but about helping to boost the camps religion. Introducing religions should be done at home in a neutral way so that the children can ask questions and not believe everything that is told to them.

     
  • At 2:55 PM, Blogger Deena said…

    You don't have to tell me to respect the fact that the kid was able to tell me that he was uncomfortable. I thought I made it clear that I do.

    Also, I disagree with your statement that religious camps are freaky. Maybe religious retreats are freaky, but religious camps are anything but. Considering that you and I went to the same Christian camp growing up I find it hard to believe that we could walk away with such differing opinions. To me, it's like Sunday School with less Bible and more fun. The only time it can get a little intense is around the camp fire, as the mood is more "creepy", but since this is day camp it's not going to go to that level.

    Finally, and most importantly, there is nothing "neutral" about teaching your child what to believe in, as you suggest. Neutrality is exactly what got this family in trouble to begin with. The first half of a child's life the belief system is formed and it is exactly what you teach them. It isn't until adolesence that the child can really hone their own reasoning skills.

     
  • At 6:42 PM, Blogger Ben Meyer said…

    Religious camps are really freaky for those who aren't religious to begin with.

     
  • At 6:59 PM, Blogger Ben Meyer said…

    In 7th grade (or was it 8th) I recall every other week or so a different person came in and spoke about a different religion. I didn't think much about it at the time, but looking back that was the most neutral pretension of religions I have ever seen and very much doubt that most people have had the same experience.

    Neutrality is exactly what got this family in trouble to begin with. The first half of a child's life the belief system is formed and it is exactly what you teach them. It isn't until adolesence that the child can really hone their own reasoning skills.

    Neutrality isn't bad. If you aren't neutral with your kids then when they become teenagers they might not take the time to figure out religion on their own.

     
  • At 7:27 AM, Blogger Deena said…

    I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

     

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