1. notleia says:

    I’m know I’m repeating myself, but I feel like I have to be the modulating voice that says, “your kids are going to have different opinions than you,” because it gets erased in this push to “train up” your child into an ideological clone of yourself. I’m not talking opinions like they prefer blue to red, I’m talking opinions like literalist interpretations of the Bible are bunk and gay people are just fine.

    • Notleia, obviously you have strong feelings about your own background, but I think you read into others’ lives what you experienced. Consequently in this post I said “guide” and you hear “ideological clone.”

      You would expect a parent to teach a child not to stick his finger in a light socket or not to get in a car with a stranger. Why shouldn’t parents also be just as involved in warning and teaching children about spiritual things? It would be foolish for us to think that what is temporal is fine for us to be involved in, but when it comes to the eternal, it should be hands off.

      As far as what “opinions” a parent should or should not pass on to their children, I prefer the Truth. Yes, there are also a good deal of “how do we live that Truth out” kinds of specifics that parents also pass on. But if they do a good job, children will settle on their own “how to” without rejecting the Truth it’s based on.

      You mentioned “literalist interpretations of the Bible.” You might be surprised, but I agree. For instance, I just heard a woman speaking on marriage who says those in conflict should go to bed angry. But the prevailing literalist view is that the Bible teaches not to go to bed mad. It doesn’t. In context it is clearly teaching to be angry and yet to not sin. So if going to bed and getting needed sleep makes a person less emotional, more clear-headed, rational and willing to work through whatever relational problem exists, then that’s a better option than slavishly staying up til all hours of the morning so as not to go to bed mad. Going to bed with the intent to stew in his anger or to plot revenge or other such sinful reactions—that’s another matter.

      The point is, what the Bible says needs to be taken in context and understood in light of the genre and purpose of each book. One friend says the Bible needs to be interpreted literarily, not literally.

      In short, the Bible isn’t a rule book. It’s revelation, and we need to treat it that way. What is God like? What does He care about? A parent would be wise to pass those things on to their children, along with, “Look both ways before you cross the street.”


      • notleia says:

        I think the internet eated my earlier comment, but that’s okay because I’ve discovered I have more to say.

        But first I made a funny about how I’m stealing that analogy: Christian culture teaches kids that sex is like sticking your finger in a light socket. (’cause let’s be real, parents are mostly screening books/media for sex)

        But the substance of what I want to say is that intent isn’t magic. Even if a parent means well, that doesn’t mean their kid won’t end up experiencing their own childhood as being tightly controlled (ie, clone-making).

        This isn’t contradicted by my experience of Christian parenting media, which basically is all about controlling your kids and what your kids are exposed to. I guess they think that imposing external controls automatically teaches your kids to have internal controls, but that’s not true. In my experience and a bunch of other people’s experiences.

        Also for interpreting the Bible literarily, I find that most Christians don’t really understand what that entails, but that’s a different essay-length comment.

        • Notleia, just a reiteration that your experience isn’t universal. I taught in a Christian school for over thirty years, so I saw lots of Christians doing their best to raise their kids to be followers of Jesus Christ.

          I didn’t see anything like you say you experienced. Sex was not treated as a dirty word in the classrooms, certainly, and barring one family, it’s hard for me to imagine even the most involved parent having a negative view about sex.

          On the other hand, they also didn’t encourage their kids to go out and experiment! Rather, if you stick with the truth revealed in the Bible, it’s pretty easy to have a balanced, healthy view of sex.

          My concern here is that you automatically think sex is the issue. Is that because you have never come to terms with your views? I mean, I know a lot of parents are concerned about language, attitudes toward authority, violence, friend choices.

          What parents are concerned with is keeping their child from harm, spiritually and emotionally. There is no need for a five year old to be exposed to certain things that are beyond her years. In the same way, there is no need for a twelve year old to be exposed to certain things. Those things are different from the five year old’s list. You don’t need to put safety caps on the electrical sockets in a twelve-year-old’s room.

          So if that’s what you experienced, I’m sorry. It is not universally true that “the Christian community” does so. From what you say, it sounds like you’re “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”


          • notleia says:

            Except it’s not just me. This is a systemic problem. Here, have some more anecdotes: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/removingthefigleaf/

            • I guess what I’m trying to tell you, notleia, is that I don’t believe it is systemic. I’ve had a pretty wide range of experiences with young people, and what you are saying simply doesn’t reflect their existence. Some of those kids, raised in Christian homes are now raising their own kids the same way because they think it’s right. Some have left the church and have turned from the faith, but I haven’t heard any of them say their lives were onerous because of the way their parents raised them.

              I know there are some negative experiences, no doubt. But that doesn’t mean the negative reflect all Christians or even most Christians. I do know there are cultural differences base on parts of the country, so perhaps you live in a place that has a more works-oriented way of framing Christianity.


    • Autumn Grayson says:

      Children definitely have different opinions from their parents(I know I have vastly different opinions than mine on certain things) but everyone is going to teach their kids according to what they believe, regardless of being Christian or not. If you had your own kids, you would probably teach them according to your own views on sex, media, etc. and probably have negative reactions if they deviated from those in a way you disliked. You would probably ultimately let them choose what they did, but you would have an opinion about it and probably tell them that you disagreed if, say, your children had a more conservative view on sex than you did. It’s exactly the same thing with Christians. We don’t expect children to be our clones and agree with us, but we do have our opinions and all parents teach according to their opinions to some degree or another.

      • notleia says:

        As much as I appreciate you trying to be moderate and all, I’m thinking about gay kids who are thrown out of their homes or tortured in gay conversion therapies by their religiously motivated parents. If there is a good way to be moderate about that, I have not yet discovered it.

        • notleia, there are people who respond incorrectly, but there are also people who properly guide their children away from sin. That’s part of a parent’s job, as surely as it is their job to keep them from physical danger.

          And the idea that conversion therapies are torturing kids is narrative the LGBT community wants to put forth. And there may be some such groups, but that’s not consistent with their aims, for sure.

          I find it interesting that no one really wants to explain why someone like Dr. Rosaria Butterfield can leave the gay life, marry, and live a heterosexual life if people supposedly can’t be transformed from being gay.


What do you think?