How Beleifs Taught to Children Can Be Dangerous

 

By Ron Hindbaugh M.A.

 

We live in a world that is relatively free of the physical dangers parents of the past worried about. Disease, although a problem, is not the formidable, life-threatening invader of the past. Although we worry about the safety of our children, our roads, schools, and homes are much safer places to be then they were in the past.

Yet danger still lurks. Today dangers exist that are harder for parents to protect their children from. Dangerous ideas exist everywhere and are very appealing to the child. In this article we will discuss one of these ideas and give some suggestions on how to protect your child from the consequence of embracing this idea.

A very dangerous idea is: “If someone does not believe like I believe they are inferior or bad.” This idea is appealing because it provides a child with the false security that life is simple. This belief allows one to judge others rather then their ideas. The “We/They” dichotomy that follows from this idea tends to justify hatred or even violence. It makes the other person the enemy and justifies personal attacks on the individual’s character, judgment, and integrity. But the most insidious result of accepting this idea as legitimate is the impact on the child himself.

When a person accepts the belief that others are bad or inferior because of belief, creed, or outlook then their own growth is halted. When an individual rules out the possibility that the other person, even if different, has the right and perhaps even the obligation to think as they choose (as long as they do not harm others) then the door of learning and discovery they slam shut. The belief itself justifies this lack of growth and learning.

As Americans, we all cherish the freedom we have to believe as we choose. But when a person or group feel that others who believe different can be criticized or attacked for their beliefs we weaken our own right to believe what we choose. By protecting the right of all men/women to believe as they choose we champion this right for all men/women.

I will always champion the right of all men/women to believe as they choose. If a man or a woman chooses to believe any philosophy, worship a tree, science, or money makes no difference to me. Because when their rights are protected to believe as they want, so are mine. If my beliefs are valid, in time, others will discover this truth.

The problem many of today’s youth have is that they do not know what they believe. This is probably due to the fact that many parents believe that they do not have a right to pass their beliefs on to their children. Many parents forget the price they have paid to develop their own ideas and beliefs. The beliefs that they have forged for themselves as they have lived and grown can be the greatest gift a parent can give to their child.

A child with no basis for his belief system can be swayed by any idea that is available. A child who has a basic belief system established or is using what was given to him or her by the parents has a foundation. The ideas they are exposed to can then be measured against what they already possess. These children are less likely to accept untried or untested ideas. The child is free to change and is not imprisoned by his lack of belief.

In today’s world of controversial ideas none of us (children included) can afford to be ungrounded. We live in a time when a person’s integrity is not what counts but rather what they believe. “Believing like me makes you ok. Not believing like me makes you the enemy to be destroyed.”

The only way to defeat these insidious beliefs is to commit ourselves as parents to living in a manner that is respectful of all people, respecting their right to believe as they choose while not necessarily choosing their belief.

I do not know what my children will choose to believe. I have no control over that. But I can make sure my children know that I believe in respecting the beliefs of others while holding strongly to my own beliefs. I can let them know that I believe in the sanctity of marriage, the importance of family, and the important and different roles both the Mother and Father play. I can let my children know that I believe in the sacredness of life even before birth. But most of all I can let my children know how important and meaningful my relationship with my Father in Heaven is. Then armed with this awareness they can hammer out their own belief system without condemning those who choose or have discovered other beliefs and ideas.