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Let's Not Bully Kids Into BeliefGage Skidmore / Flickr

Let's Not Bully Kids Into Belief

Nov 11 2013
Sorry Glenn Beck, Christian children need room to grow.

A few years ago, a friend texted me a photo she'd taken at a big box store. Sam's Club, I think. It was a picture of my book MOMumental stacked next to one of Glenn Beck's titles. Her caption: "Unlikely bedfellows."

Unlikely indeed. I take a wildly different approach to life than Beck, so it didn't surprise me that I found myself alarmed at recent video clip of the conservative political commentator dispensing parenting advice.

He beseeches parents to "push" their kids (whether he means literally or figuratively seems unclear), saying that our children need to be toughened up so they don't "run around like little girls crying at the drop of a hat."

Any slice of that tirade would be reason enough for a response, but I felt most offended that this was Beck's recommended approach to passing on faith and values to our children.

I doubt many of us subscribe to such pushy parenting tactics, nor do we advocate abusing children verbally or otherwise. But Glenn Beck and I face a common dilemma as parents: Our faith is of great value to us, and our profound hope is that our children will continue in it.

My oldest child is only months away from college; this is an issue of real consequence to me. It's not that I fear that he, or any of my younger children, will one day leave home and toss away their salvation. I don't think it works like that anyway.

I also am quite certain that being a person of faith isn't like installing an invisible fence that keeps despair, pain, and loss outside the perimeters of our lives. And it's not that I want my kids to stay faithful so that they will be "good people" when they are adults. Some of the most lovely and excellent people I've ever known don't identify as Christians.

So, if it's not fear for their immortal souls, why do I hope they'll remain in the faith? My answers to that question could fill a book.

Christianity is part of their DNA.

Rejecting their faith would be like refusing one's race or ancestry or trying to forget the song your mother sang to you every night before bed. My kids might set it aside for a while – as I have done in different periods of my life. They might revise it and find another way to interpret and live it out.

They have chosen Christ, were baptized, confirmed, and raised in the church. They can't possibly fling off their faith like an ill-fitting coat; it's part of the fabric of who they are.

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