I "force" feed my kids. And I'm okay with it.

As much as I sometimes cringe at social media I am also strangely fascinated by it. Nowhere else can you find people unloading all of their opinions, struggles, and frustrations in one neat and convenient place. The beauty inherent in social media is that you can choose to block all of the rants and bad behavior that see, but then there are always those posts that you just can't help but read.

One rule I have set for myself as social media sites have exploded is to not wander into unnecessary conflict. Sure, I'll see a post that I think is absolutely ridiculous and I'll immediate conjure up a dozen ways to respond, but 999 times out of 1000 I will do nothing and move on to something more meaningful. Yet I find it hard to ignore some of the theological and philosophical landmines that I see planted behind peoples' keyboards. Since I am a blogger, I can use this medium as a way to respond.

Without fail I often run across a post by a young person who is publicly lamenting why parents think it necessary to raise their kids into a religion. Why not let them grow up to decide for themselves? There are usually many comments to these kinds of posts, most of them were voicing the same dissent. The general consent is that parents are brainwashing their kids, pushing them so hard that they not only drive them away from religion but they also aren't letting them think for themselves.

Now I am all about people having their own opinions and being able to express them freely. And, I think it's great when young people want to think for themselves, especially when that means that they are embracing more responsibility in life. But I could not help but shake my head at the absurdity of the mindset that it's wrong for parents to "push" belief systems on their children. That's usually the opinion of those who didn't get their way.

Why do I feel like that? Because every single thing that parents share with their children is based upon the belief system of the parents. Whether it's a mom telling her daughter to eat her vegetables or a dad telling his son how to be a gracious loser in sports, everything that is told to us when we are young is based upon an established set of beliefs. Those who kick against the idea of parents "forcing" religion on their kids will respond that religion is different - you don't NEED religion because it's just a myth based upon fairy tales. But how do you think those who feel that way got that idea? Do you really believe they came up with that because they were thinking for themselves?

Parents can't help but instill their personal values into their children. If you have a pulse, then you too do it everyday. To be bitter and hardened because mom or dad took you to church as a child and didn't let you think for yourself is rather silly. Can't the children of those parents who never took them to church or exposed them to spirituality say the same thing? Unless, of course, this only applies to those who embrace religion.

So here's a solution out there for all the parents who are being so unfair to their children by exposing them to spiritual things: Stop giving them any guidance at all. Hot stove? I'm not gonna tell him not to touch it because I certainly don't want to inhibit my child's ability to think for himself. Go ahead and run out in the street if you want to. I don't want to be the one who infringes on your right to refuse to look both ways before crossing. School? Man, if you don't want to go then I won't wake you up every morning to get ready for it. You can decide if it's important or not for you because, as your parent, I owe it to you to allow you to make your own decisions. As for the consequences of your decisions? I'm sure you're smart enough to figure out how to handle those, too.

If that's what you mean by not being forced into the ideals of your parents, then have at it. But that's probably not what more kids are thinking. As a parent I no more force my religious beliefs on my children than I force my belief in healthy food, safety, and common sense on them.

Let me sum this up. If you are a parent who is physically beating Jesus into your child or are brainwashing your children a la David Koresh, then let me suggest that it's time to stop doing that. However, I seriously doubt this happens much. Rather, what I see are parents who love their children and take them to church and show them just how much God has changed your life. If that's what it means to force religion on your kids then I hate to think what it means if you give your children unlimited and unregulated freedom.


Clayton Dagenhardt said...

Spot on! I see this every day at work. We also get calls where we are expected to make a child get up to go to school or respect their parent too. I've worked here going on ten years and it has gotten worse as the years have gone on because parents let the television or their children's friends raise their kids and then when there are problems they wonder, "What happened?" And I have to tell them that it isn't enough to be a father or mother but you have to be a parent and raise your children yourself and stop letting society do it. Just because you don't have any problems with a ten year old doesn't mean your job is done and you can quit teaching your child right from wrong, being a good example and showing them the morals and ethics they need to have.

Sterling Griggs said...

Preach it Clay!

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