I recently encountered a mother who won’t let her teenager read mythology because it violates “God’s word.” A friend of mine, a preschool teacher, told me about a family that forbade their child from participating in yoga, because it wasn’t Christian. We all know families that allow only the music, books, media, etc. that reinforce their religion, creating a little silo of existence, separate from the evil outside world threatening to contaminate their child.
This is a bad plan. This is a very bad plan. You know why? Because it’s illogical.
Why does God hate logic? Does God hate logic? I don’t see why he or she should hate logic. Logic is some totally solid stuff. Logic is da bomb.
I can’t believe I just said that. I really am a nerd.
Anyway, let’s get one thing clear: I am not a God-hater. I am not a religion hater. I am not even an atheist. I used to be an atheist. I used to be one of those people waltzing around announcing with an almost palpable arrogance: “I am an atheist. I am a ‘free-thinker.’” But then I heard a loud “pop” as my head was removed from my ass and I realized I had simply chosen a new God. Namely, Science and Humanity. I had determined that the only valid “way of knowing” is found in that which we can “see” or “prove.” And I thought this made me a “free-thinker.”
A real free-thinker recognizes that “seeing” and “proving” are slippery at best, and there are many, many forms of ontological knowledge (ways of knowing). A real free-thinker recognizes that the human brain is finite and conditioned and rather pathetic when held against the mystery of our existence. The vastness of eternity, the cosmos, the universe – whether we like to admit it or not- is impossible to grasp by our feeble brains, so the brain-created assertion that “THERE IS NO GOD” is as “simple-minded” and “small” as the assertion that there’s a white dude up in the sky running this show. It is merely a NEW form of comforting oneself. Some are comforted by “There is a God.” Others are comforted by “There is no God. Science is God.” What’s the freaking difference?
Why can’t we just keep our minds open and accepting to god and no-god and creator and non-creator, based on the truth or our existences, as they evolve and unfold in whatever messy directions they may take?
Clearly I have some strong opinions on this topic, but it’s another piece of writing. Let’s stick with the whole sheltering-your-kids discussion.
This plan, though it sounds sort of good in theory (kids won’t be exposed to “impure” things that will lead them to trouble), fails in execution. It may not fail with every kid, but I promise you it will fail with many, if not most.
First of all, it isn’t sustainable. Haven’t you ever thought about that? Unless you plan on homeschooling your kid for the rest of her life, or locking her in a basement, which I think is like totally illegal, your child will at some point, LEAVE YOUR FOLD. She will walk off, into the world, where sex and drugs and liberals live (sorry, I couldn’t resist.).
Also gay people.
Your child will live in the world. Period.
So how is it logical to prepare your child for a life IN THE WORLD by sheltering her FROM THE WORLD? See? Illogical.
Further, do you really have so little faith in your kid’s judgment? Think about what you’re saying: “Hey kid, since you’re clearly incapable of choosing for yourself that which is moral/immoral, good/bad, spiritually uplifting or draining, I have decided to POLICE EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE on your behalf even though some day you will have to make these decisions on your own.”
To prepare you for those decisions, I’m going to never let you make those decisions.
No really dude I don’t get this. This makes no sense.
And check this out: Do you or do you not want to empower your child to carry with him the connection with God you’ve fostered? Do you or do you not want your child to develop a real, sustaining belief?
If you want that, why would you take it upon yourself to create, nurture and sustain that relationship? Are you God? Because it sounds to me like you’re trying to be God.
And if you are policing every area of your kids’ lives, making sure it all complements your religion, then you are effectively erasing any REAL experience your child may have that would in fact foster a faith in whatever it is you’re trying to instill.
In other words, God either is or isn’t. Your God is small or your God is big. PICK ONE.
If your God cannot sustain the evil of the world, if your God cannot stand face to face with the crap of humanity, well what’s the point of having a God in the first place?
If the only way you can have a relationship with your God is to never encounter that which goes against him, well then, wow. Creator of the universe? Huh. No. Sounds pretty weak sauce to me.
Plus, if your child chooses another path, if your child is exposed to yoga and Greek mythology and suddenly “goes astray,” isn’t that better than a FAKE EXISTENCE BASED ON YOUR TEMPORARY POLICING?
How little interest do you have, really, in the individuality of your child? I don’t let my kids do and watch whatever they feel like. In fact, we don’t even have a television. I won’t let my daughter read the Hunger Games, but not because it’s “immoral,” but rather because I don’t think she’s mature enough to handle the immorality. Murder. Too much for this kid at 11-years-old. My kids also don’t watch horror movies. I’m not talking about making reasonable decisions based on a child’s maturity. I’m talking about BLOCKING age-appropriate material because it doesn’t align with your religious beliefs. I’m talking about forbidding certain things because it doesn’t reinforce your own religious stance, even if the child has an interest in such things.
Isn’t it better to just tell kids the truth?
Hey kid, yeah, watch this TV show, but notice the way the women are objectified, acting like fools to gain the attention of men.
Hey kids, go ahead and drink, but know your mama’s an alcoholic and you’re playing with fire.
Hey daughter, yep. Fine. Have sex before marriage, but let’s talk about unwanted pregnancies and all that entails.
Sure, get hooked up with kids who are stealing and doing drugs, but know that the depth of pain in your heart as you try to look at yourself in the mirror each morning will be immeasurable. Also you might go to prison.
Wow, listen to that song, kids, the way it makes life seem like nothing more than the endless pursuit of material goods.
Hold what gives you peace. Hold what gives you meaning.
But by God let your kids find the same.
Let them find the power they need.
Let them find the faith that withstands all attempts to shake it. Whatever that looks like. Truth becomes truth when it is LIVED, not when it is TOLD.
This is where the freedom lies. And really, in the end, isn’t that all we want for our kids?
Joy, and the freedom to live it.
Or at least the chance to find it.