Media and conversations continue to remind me how relieved I am NOT to be a kid these days. It’s like kids are expected to come from the womb knowing exactly who they are and what they want from life.
If you read my other posts in this series, you might recall that I wanted to be a secret agent at one point. Oh, and if I didn’t wish to be a horse, I pretended to be a boy. All of this to say school isn’t about learning the basics anymore.
Recently, I realized that I had another advantage over kids these days. Of course, movies and journalists will claim it means I was brainwashed, but I was expected to adhere to a specific set of rules. And my mother took me to the church she believed taught the right things.
So Many Beliefs
Our world is diverse in so many ways. There are different races and religions. People choose political affiliation.
Cultures stress family units or individual achievement. Books are written about things as vague as basketweaving to the ridiculous notion of a zombie apocalypse.
Who’s to say what’s right or wrong?
Well, in the world of what I want to believe, I get to decide what is right for me. And, as a parent, I’m responsible for teaching my child the difference between right behavior and wrong behavior.
How did any of us survive with our mothers feeding us cow’s mile in our bottles? Everyone knows babies can process all those harsh proteins. They need their mother’s milk or expensive formula.
But we did survive. Our parents fed us what they ate.
Medical research has since declared cow’s milk “unhealthy” for infants. But did babies die from drinking it back in the day when people didn’t know better?
Maybe. Most likely they developed some form of allergic reaction. Even I was allergic to the fat in milk. It made my skin bubble up and itch.
All this to say that no person can teach their child every different belief system. In fact, they should give due diligence to being consistent living their own beliefs and explaining them to their children.
This whole “We don’t take our kid to church because we want them to choose their own beliefs” mentality confuses me. Introducing your children to what you believe is choosing to believe it for them?
I think not. You’ll put the Crest toothpaste on the counter in the bathroom and watch them brush their teeth twice per day. Why Crest? Is it really better than Colgate or Aquafresh or the store brand?
How can you force your toothpaste choice on your child?
Even more to the point, why do you make them brush their teeth anyway? What if they believe bad breath is better?
Pressure to Conform
Children will face pressure to conform.
If the parents don’t give them a baseline of acceptable responses (based on their own worldviews and societal standards), they’re setting their child up to fall in with the loudest voice.
For a few years, parents can be the only voice a child hears. And believe me, they will choose to ignore that voice plenty of times. Hopefully there will be consequences when they do.
Fair and consistent outcomes won’t happen very often in the larger world, but parents can make sure they happen in their child’s pre-school world. Why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to do it?
Because you’re brainwashing your child to be a Christian or a person who bathes or someone who eats three balanced meals per day?
As soon as they begin interacting with other kids, the pressure is on. Eventually, they’ll want different toys, different clothes, and different opportunities.
Do they really need these things to become a well-rounded individual?
Or if they conform to these expectations, are they being brainwashed by larger society to believe and act a certain way?
Freedom to Choose
God created humans to have free will.
Every person should have freedom to choose for themselves. God said so. He set the universe in place on that truth.
But if there is a choice, there is a right one and a wrong one.
Just because being a doctor is right for some people, it’s wrong for me. I don’t like to listen to a sick person’s list of complaints. I don’t want to go to school for a decade and be exposed to every bodily fluid.
But that doesn’t mean being a doctor is wrong. We need conscientious doctors who care about the physical and emotional well-being of people.
I wouldn’t be that doctor.
This is a case where the freedom to choose will give individuals unique outcomes. What’s right for one isn’t right for all.
However, children need to eat protein and vitamins. If they don’t, their brains and bodies won’t grow to optimum potential.
And fortified cereal isn’t the same as fresh fruit and organic eggs. Even if all the nutrients are the same, we know the foods aren’t equal. One choice is healthier for the developing human than the other.
In this case, freedom to choose can have a negative outcome if you choose poorly. And there is a better, more healthy choice.
All choices aren’t created equal even if the right to make them is consistent across the board.
I’m glad my mother didn’t give me a choice. Even though it meant eating liver and butternut squash, I didn’t get to choose to have a bologna and cheese sandwich instead. It meant I had to pick up rocks, pull weeds and clean toilets, but I’m not afraid to work hard and I know how to take care of my yard, garden (ugh, or how to NOT have one) and home.
I wouldn’t have been able to make good choices about many things in my life when I was a kid. If I’m honest, I still make poor choices as a middle-aged adult woman.
Let’s face it the $5 lunch from Dairy Queen sound delicious. And so much easier to make than fresh fruit, plain yogurt and sliced red peppers. But which one is a healthier choice?