Are Christian’s Brainwashing Their Children?
I recently started a FaceBook group called 1,000,000 ‘Christian Parents Raising Disciples For Christ.’
I was pleasantly surprised when young pre-parent people started to join the group. A few have joined because they wanted to voice their objection to being raised as a Christian. Needless to say, this has livened up the discussion area. One of the well-meaning, sincere questions posted, asked if raising our children as Christians is a type of brainwashing. My below blog is what I posted in reply to this question.
I agree with you that no one should ‘force’ his or her ideas or opinions on another person. Having said that, I have to ask you, did your parents force you to brush your teeth, go to bed at a certain time, go to school or eat your dinner?
A parent/child relationship is different than a friendship. Here’s Wikipedia’s summary definition of parenting; “Parenting is the process of raising and educating a child from birth, or before, until adulthood.” The article goes on to break down the responsibilities of parents into categories. Here’s what it states under the heading, ‘Providing intellectual development.’
Intellectual development means providing opportunity to a child to learn – to learn about laws of nature and moral laws.
- Reading, writing, calculating etc.
- Intellectual games
- Social skills and etiquette
- Moral and spiritual development
- Ethics and value systems
- Norms and contributions to the child’s belief and cultural customs
A parent who does not make an effort to teach their child everything from proper hygiene to moral character and spiritual development, is not doing their job and by the definition of the word ‘parent’, perhaps not a parent at all.
Now that we’ve established that, let’s look at your concern about brainwashing. The key element of brainwashing is the purposeful intention of bypassing a person’s will. A brainwasher has no concern for his subjects or their desires or choices. Brainwashing is re-education, focused on deprogramming. It intentionally uses things like sleep and sensory depravation, torture and thought-control to break the will and reprogram it. (I suggest you read Wikipedia’s article. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainwashing) Parental and social influence and education are not brainwashing. Otherwise students are being brainwashed five days a week at school. Parents have a responsibility to teach their children what they know and what they believe.
Having said that, I believe that our children should also be taught how to think and be allowed to question and think through what they are being taught. I believe that Christianity is the truth and therefore it can stand up to scrutiny. For example, my children were taught both the theory of evolution and creationism and encouraged to study and think the issue through for themselves.
Cults, or people who are often accused of being involved in social manipulation, seek to isolate their subjects from contradictory information. Although this is not brainwashing, I don’t believe the Bible calls us to isolate our children but to teach them to learn and think and to engage in dialogue with others.
Finally, I want to clarify the purpose of this group. The church is losing 70% of its kids not because it’s involved in brainwashing but because of the exact opposite. Many Christian kids don’t have the opportunity to make an informed and educated choice about their Faith because they’ve not been taught what they believe. (The secular school system teaches evolution. Unless you are also taught and/or study for yourself creationism, how can you properly decide what you believe.)
A Christian parent believes the Bible to be God’s Word and that learning from it and living according to it, leads to the best life here and in eternity. Believing this to be true and not teaching it to our children would be equivalent to not teaching them how to look both ways before crossing the street. (Surely they’ll learn that for themselves.)
It’s not right to isolate our children from other ideas or to ‘force’ our beliefs on them. Nor is it right to not expose them to and teach them what we believe to be truth.
This group is for those who would like to join in and commit to properly educating our children in the Faith, helping them to wrestle with the ideas and issues, seek God for themselves and in the end make an informed decision.
One last thing, Christians believe that the Bible is God’s instruction book and it repeatedly tells us to lovingly teach our children about God and how he says to live. So if we don’t, aren’t we hypocrites?
Anyone else have something to add, feel free to join in. Make your comments here or come and join the FB group.
For help with teaching your children about their Faith, we recommend, The Singing Bible.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad – your source for Christian Parenting advice)
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