Today’s blog has to do with parenting.
Today I read something that gave me pause and I want to address it. The article was about the desire of a parent for their child to think for themselves. What a beautiful sentiment! We all want our children to be who they were meant to be. To “Find Themselves”. This journey is all about what we make of it, the decisions we make and the things we learn. This is our ride! There is great truth in the statement, “I want my children to think for themselves”, a solid foundation is what gives them the freedom to do just that.
An example. I do not love math and because it isn’t a passion of mine we didn’t address it a lot in our family. It was seen as a chore and was something that I didn’t really want to talk about or work on with my children because I was ambivalent about it myself. I saw the importance of it, I knew it would be good for my children, but I didn’t expose them to opportunities for them to see if they would love it or not. Because of this, even the children I saw the talent of math in, don’t really care for it. The ambivalence has been passed on. Looking back, I see this as laziness in myself. I could have provided those opportunities, but I chose to avoid them. Hence my laziness in this particular area did not lay a solid foundation for my children know if they would have loved it or not.
Building a foundation for our children’s future decisions is critical. We are doing it every day without us even knowing it. We have opinions and our kids pick up on them. We have things we don’t like, our children watch us, and probably won’t like them either because we don’t expose them to the opportunity, and we do, we pull faces or say something negative. It is impossible to raise a child to completely think for themselves. The reason we have families is to provide some structure for rising generations.
For a child to know whether he/she likes the piano, a certain level of expertise must be met before they can truly decide. The same example is true in everything, and only occasionally does the beautiful miracle occur and a child is born with expertise and self-knowledge.
I have found in most cases, people say this in respect to religion, politics or guiding beliefs. Children are rarely left to decide whether they eat dinner, or are allowed to only eat what they want when they want but we may leave the door wide open, with no foundation laid, in matters of the spirit. Good parents teach their children. So, this argument is mostly given because the parents are agnostic themselves.
A child is rarely going to choose God or any guiding beliefs in a home where it is discounted or ignored. If parents truly want their child to choose whether they believe in God or a particular religion, they have to be exposed to it. There has to be religious training, upbringing. One father I know took his children to a church he didn’t even believe in every Sunday (he had no religious preference). He encouraged his children in their church activities and never bad mouthed the church he was taking them to. He understood that once they hit a certain age, they would decide what direction they wanted to go, but the he also believed the foundation that was being laid gave them the freedom to choose.
When I was about 14, I was going to church activities with my friends of another faith. I loved my friends and there were things about their religion I really liked. I had been raised in a religious home and I had exposure to lots of other faiths. One day my mom came in to my room and said that it was time for me to decide what I really believed. She encouraged me to read and to pray. She encouraged me to read all the good things and to live the best I could so that God would be happy to answer my prayers, based on a relationship He and I had already established. She said the time had come for me to know for myself. She would not accept me taking the easy way out on this. I couldn’t just say, “Oh this is what I believe.” I had to work at it.
My parents laid a solid foundation for me to make the decision from. They waited for me to make it until they felt I was mature enough to make an informed and honest decision. They had never bad mouthed any religion, so I had a good feeling about them all. Looking back, they took a big risk that I could have chosen differently than they, but they knew I would never truly stand by a faith I had not received an answer of for myself. I wish that they had been as tenacious in teaching me and guiding me to a level of expertise in other things as well. Some life decisions may have been easier. I am sure my kids feel the same way.
So, if you want your children to choose anything, give them lots of opportunities. It is hard work and I dropped the ball on many things, but luckily there was some foundation laid because my kids have turned out pretty great and they are definitely their own people!
So, from one old mom to a world of new ones; take them to church whether you want to be there or not. Pretend like math is the greatest thing ever and make them do their homework, teach them sports or piano, (something) until they have a level of proficiency they can decide whether they love it. Children’s opportunities to excel in a disciplined home give them the knowledge to know what they like and believe. Give them that gift and I promise you, when the time comes they will decide for themselves.