Monday, April 26, 2010

Shameless Indoctrination

A young child's favorite question is "why?"

Do you roll your eyes to this nonstop question, or do you take the opportunity for what I refer to as "shameless indoctrination"?

The first "why" gets answered with a matter-of-fact statement that is creating the default setting for my child's beliefs about God, the world, themselves, and morality. The second "why" gets a more general answer to the effect that either "God tells us in the Bible" or "because I said so." End of discussion.

But let's unpack that first opportunity for shameless indoctrination (and, shameless indoctrination doesn't need a why question to be practiced; it's just that the why question provides SO MUCH opportunity since it occurs SO FREQUENTLY).

In our house, we have a daughter who's a mere 18 months older than her twin brothers. You can imagine that there's been quite an education concerning the anatomical differences in boys and girls, among other "life lessons." When we were changing the boys' diapers, bathing the three children, and potty training the boys, myriad questions arose from my daughter. The answer? An unapologetic statement that "God made boys and girls different. One of those differences is in the way he made them look. Girls are made this way and boys are made that way." That paves the way for future discussions of the other ways God made boys and girls different. Similarly, when my daughter stated that she was going to marry Daddy someday, I told her he was my handsome prince and she'd have to marry someone else (but Daddy would always be her daddy). She then said she'd marry me. To that, I matter of factly stated that girls don't marry each other. Girls marry boys--1 girl to 1 boy. See? Setting that foundation before they even know it's an issue in our society. When she comes face to face with homosexual "marriage," my prayer is that by then, the truth of God's Word regarding marriage between one man and one woman will be so ingrained in her little brain--the default setting, as it were--that she will not question God's standard. Instead, she'll recognize the sin in the world.

In another interchange, after my daughter had gone with my husband to buy me flowers, she said she would buy the boys (her brothers) flowers when they were bigger. I told her that was a sweet idea, but girls don't buy boys flowers. That's the boys' job; when they get bigger, they'll buy flowers for the special girls in their lives (including us, hopefully!). See? We're setting those expectations high. When she has a crush on a boy later (hopefully MUCH later) that doesn't treat her well, ideally she'll notice it because we've been laying a foundation of respect and proper treatment between men and women.

Toddlers and preschoolers don't need the paragraph answers older children and adults want. A simple statement or two is usually enough. Why not use this golden opportunity to set the foundation for God's created order? Morality, gender roles, even "religion" and "church" are being called into question and given fuzzy boundaries throughout society. Prepare your children now by given them a strong foundation in God's Word and His standards.

I need hardly point out that the Children's Catechism and Scripture memory are part of this training!

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