Thursday, March 17, 2011

Letting your kids "run wild"

I think what happens often with parents…maybe even most of the time with parent’s whose mindset is that they are to “train” their children…is that they ultimately send the message (that they actually believe but don’t realize they believe) that their child is not acceptable for who they actually are and that only the parent’s imagination of who the child ought to be is acceptable. Any deviation from the parent’s ideal for who the child should be is dealt with, snuffed out, dubbed “bad” and worse yet, with Christian parents, is deemed to be “against God”.

When false church teachings get mixed in there…then we…based on false teachings that our children are “evil” from birth…will see any manifestation in the child’s personality that is not what we imagine the child to be like as a manifestation of this inherent “evil” in the child. “There’s Adam coming out in him” I’ve heard parents say.

Then, we add injury to the insult and after falsely accusing the child of being “sinful” we then punish them by hurting them. We, the people they look to to learn what “love” is find out at an early age that we do not understand them at all and that, “Love bites! Love bleeds! It’s got me down on my knees!” (Def Leppard)

Children then grow up under these circumstances learning that love is harsh, and critical, and that they are not good enough unless they are who the parent thinks they should be. We make fun of how so many people spend time trying to “find themselves” but there is legitimacy in this for the child who is raised this way because every day is spent trying to behave the way the parent wants and who they really are and how they really want to behave is lost…

There is no mystery why teenagers are so drawn to music which cries out, “Grown-ups don’t understand us” and have angry undertones. Children who have been rejected for “who” they are from the moment they were born…children who have been falsely accused of being “evil” for the natural curiosity they were born with that God gave them…are going to grow up angry and confused…

Parents, especially Christian ones, need to wake up. We need to look at children the way God describes them as “fearfully and wonderfully made in His image” and stop seeing these children as “made in the image of the devil” (Adam). We need to see the curiosity and wonder and vitality and excitement about life in our children as God-given and enjoy it. We need to stop worrying about “training” our children and instead; enjoy and love them.

Sadly, to a thoroughly indoctrinated mind that last paragraph will sound like fluff and sound like, “Let your kids run wild” and that’s not that at all. If your mind has been “trained” you will be blind to the reality that yes, in some sense, we are to let our kids “run wild” because what is “wild” is what is the natural state for something. 

“Wild” animals are simply animals who do exactly what God intended them to…well…not originally but (under “plan B” in the post flood earth) they currently follow their God-given instincts and nothing more. And, is that not what you think you want for your kids? For them to follow their God-given instincts? Don’t you want them to develop the way God designed them to be?

“Wild” animals live in the environment created for them and fight to stay in that environment. Satan came to enslave us (cage us) and the last thing any “wild” animal will allow to be done to them is to live in a cage! Isn’t that what you want for your child for them to resist the “snares” of the devil? To resist enslavement and being “caged”? Wild animals… they eat when they are hungry not on a schedule. They sleep when they are tired not on a schedule. They live the way God has programmed them to “instinctually” to live and they resist cages.

“Wild” animals do not fare well when they are taken from their natural environment and put in cages in a zoo. They do not thrive. They do not often reproduce meaning they don’t create LIFE with their lives. (Just like Romans 1 says…the animals do not thrive when caged and neither do humans…Satan’s cage for us robs us of life and we do not thrive when we are “in sin”…)

“Wild” animals who have been raised in environments where they were prevented from being who they were designed to be…where they have been prevented from responding to their needs according to their instincts…where they have been fed by a zoo keeper or a trainer on a schedule having their food brought to them…animals who are forced to obey trainers and behave in ways not natural to them…these animals cannot survive in “the wild”…they cannot survive in the environment that they were created to live in…they have no idea how to take care of themselves…if they are turned “loose” and allowed to live “on their own” after years of being controlled and living on a “schedule” they will die…

The human animal’s natural environment is one of community…living in community with other people…having needs and getting them met and seeing to the needs of others…and loving and trusting God…and children raised in a “cage” cannot survive in this natural environment…in “the wild” once they are released from their zoo-keepers/trainers…And, this is evidenced by the high suicide rates, high divorce rates, high rates of people on anti-depressants…and the like! The human animal struggles to live “in the wild” because they cannot take care of themselves…and they “die” inside because of the cage they grew up in…and I believe that the doctrine of “Original Sin” is one of the main culprits in this huge problem in society…

I have an example of how I think the doctrine of original sin is harmful…from a reality that happens in our home…

Scenario #1: Tori is 2. She has a special blanket and a special sippy cup she enjoys chocolate milk in. Sometimes she will want the blanket on her and when one person will attempt to give it to her she’ll react, “No!!!! I want MOM TO DO IT!” or Dad…either way. But, what I’m getting at is that sometimes she insists that a CERTAIN PERSON respond to her. She is only satisfied when the person she is requesting finally gives her her request. (Most of the time it is mom, but sometimes it’s dad or big sis)

My husband and I are both aware that if “certain people” we have known were to see this drama unfold in our living room that we’d get the head shake of disappointment and the “tsk tsk” finger shake of disapproval because of the pedagogy that drives most Christian parents as they “train their children up right” and because of their indoctrination…

Now, if I were to agree with those who’d disapprove of this and look at this situation from an “original sin”/child-training perspective, I’d look at Tori saying, “I want MOM to give me the blanket!” and see this as rebellion in her. I’d see this as behavior to be curbed and snuffed out…for her own good! I’d certainly not let her “have her way”! I would “not give in” and let this tiny tyrant tell me what to do! And I’d maybe even punish her for it. I’d see her insistence on “me” serving her as an expression of her “sinful nature” as “Adam coming out in her”.

So, based on my beliefs in this situation I would not give her what she wanted and I’d (basically) accuse her of “being evil”.

But, what if this is NOT an expression of a “sinful nature” in her? What if this is not “Adam coming out in her?” What if what Tori is feeling is, “My mom hasn’t paid much attention to me today ’cause she’s reading that crazy book on child-rearing practices thru the ages and typing on her computer and all I’ve seen today is the back of her head and I want my mom to pay attention to me ’cause I need to feel some love from her and I feel neglected!” What if THAT is what Tori is feeling? What if she’s feeling that way? Whether I react accordingly or not is going to do some significant TRAINING of one type or another, true?

Lesson #1: What if Tori is feeling that way and so she cries out, “I want mom to give me my blanket!” and mom comes…and gives her her blanket and sits down with her for a second and snuggles her and says, “I just love you so much!” (which is what actually happens when this happens) In that scenario…Tori FEELS neglected and FEELS a (natural God-given) need for love. Tori uses her capacities to express that need, “I want MOM to give it to me!” And, then, Tori is shown that her need is legitimate and she is rewarded for properly responding to it. She gets what she needs in the way God intended her to get it.

That’s what we happen to do here in this house. But, now what about the parents who would look at the whole thing playing out with Tori demanding that I bring her her blanket as her manipulating me? “Oh you’re letting that kid rule over you”.

“Woe to those who call good evil and evil good”. Why does the Bible say that?

Let’s now look at Tori asking for her blanket from the perspective of the parent who has that attitude…

Scenario #2: Tori sees me sitting on my computer all day and feels a need for an expression of love from me. Dad offers her a blanket and she responds, “I want MOM to give me the blanket!” Dad sees this as Tori attempting a coup  in the house and says, “No, Tori you will take the blanket from me!”
Tori now feels threatened and misunderstood by Dad and feels an even stronger need for mom, so she insists, “I want MOM!”

Dad sees this as Tori displaying her “sinful nature” and accuses her in his heart of not being herself (of Adam coming out in her) and of behaving “sinfully” in her insistence and sees her as being disobedient. So, Dad either forces her by his stern look and angry voice to stop crying out, or, has to take it to the next step and strike her and cause her physical pain in order to get her to stop expressing her desire for mom’s love. Once Dad has accomplished this and Tori is sitting peacefully and obediently in her chair with her blanket he feels he has “won the battle” and done something good. But, what did Dad do?

Lesson #2: Dad falsely accused Tori of being “sinful” when she expressed her God-given need to have attention from Mom.

Dad taught Tori that when she FEELS that God-given need, that that need is WRONG and it’s useless, wrong, and even painful to dare express that need. Eventually when this type of thing happens often enough, Tori will not learn what her God-given needs are. She will not trust her own feelings on anything. She will eventually see all of her own “desires” as potentially “evil” and cease to express any “desires” for fear of being found out as evil or being punished. Dad will sit back and proudly smile at his complacent and obedient daughter who never complains or causes a fuss. Then, someday Tori will be 40 and married to a man she cannot express anything to either…she will have desires but not know what to do to fulfill them.

All sin is the fulfillment of a good thing in a wrong way…so what has Dad just taught Tori to do?
Woe to those who call good evil and evil good…

In reality…when Tori feels like she needs love from me, she has learned to acknowledge that need and how to convey it. She’s learned that when she has that feeling and when she does something about it; her world changes. She’s learned that mom and dad see her need as legitimate and worthy of our time and energy. We give her what she needs in the right way so that she’s learning by repetition that when she feels the need for “love” that WE are who she should come to. Not a bottle. Not a toy. Not an activity. Not another friend. US. We are the safe place for her to fulfill her need for love.

The most beautiful thing about Tori “right now” in life is every time I tell her, “I just love you so much!” her response is always, “Yes.”

Someday when it is just Tori and God and God says, “Tori I just love you so much!” she won’t struggle with that. She’ll say, “yes!” And, when she feels unloved or neglected, and someone “else” comes and offers to comfort her, she’ll know how to say, “NO! I want GOD to do that!”

It’s taken me till kid 8 to figure these things out…but I’m figuring…daily in life I am figuring more and more out…thank God that I “call good evil and evil good” less and less every day!!!!! HOPEFULLY for those of you who actually read my rantings, that you can learn from my years of mistakes…and from my searching…and really…I’m sure some who have been thoroughly convinced otherwise will want to argue…but JESUS SAID we’ll know stuff by its FRUIT. LOOK at the society we live in! Even within the church we have a 50% divorce rate! Divorce happens because people can’t relate well! People divorce because they can’t get what they need/desire in a proper and honoring way to others and because they are not capable of fulfilling the needs of their spouse…WHERE did all this come from? WHERE did this inability to maintain relationships come from? We learn it…we are taught it…we are “trained up” in this way and we go and when we’re old we do not depart from it!!!!! WOE TO THOSE WHO CALL GOOD EVIL AND EVIL GOOD…woe…

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