03 September 2010

The best defense is a good offense

From this article in Touchstone: ". . . immerse your child in the worship of the Church and every other activity that can shape his imagination as Christian because he acts it out. The greatest prophylactic against cultural infection is not a shield but his love for something better and greater and more heroic."

Attempting to isolate our children from every evil influence leads eventually--or quickly--to panic. If they don't go to school, there are "school kids" at Sunday school and VBS. If we forbid Judy Blume we're left to figure out what to do with Ramona (and what about all that "obey" business in These Happy Golden Years?) We can choose our children's friends, or choose that they not have any, but we can't choose their cousins.

We can't just tell them, "That's trash. We don't read those books. Cartoons are for the masses. Parades are for Americans. The kid across the street is vulgar. Pudding cups are poison. Tryphosa dresses like a trollop, and does not nature itself teach us that Aristarchus needs a haircut?" I mean, sure, we tell them those things. But that's just to impress ourselves. Those statements provide children no nourishment. It is far more important to actively cultivate in them virtuous habits, good tastes, and noble interests.

A child who is fed primarily on contrarianism will become either rebellious or a hollow parody devoid of character. I'm inclined to think the latter is worse--the child who rebels to break out of an artificially insular world at least shows initiative and concern for substance. Isolationism is a losing battle anyway: even if they never leave our houses, children are born full of the world, naturally embracing trinkets and SnakPaks and jingles and sulking.

Beauty is truth, truth beauty, and that is what they need know on earth. Those who know and love and hunger for what is true are much harder to deceive. If our kids can't eat pudding cups--and they certainly can't--they are left ravenous and resentful if we stop at denying them. They must be given something much better. It will take a lot longer to make.


HappyFox said...

Thanks for posting this. I haven't read the article yet (it's printing) but this confirms something I've been thinking about regarding kid-rearing - show them what right looks like. When Steve when to Army jumpmaster school, he was taught how to inspect a paratrooper prior to boarding a plane. The inspection is supposed to be fast, but must be error-free - a soldier's life is at stake. The way they trained for this was to go over the correct set-up of the uniform & equipment again & again until they had it down. That way, errors would stick out like sore thumbs. Not quite the same thing as what you said, but related, I think.

And what's wrong with pudding cups? :)


Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

This is true, but the shield is important as well. I'm sure you don't mean to say that, for instance, as long as we raise our kids right, it doesn't matter if we send them to public school.

edie said...

My memory is lacking and I cannot recall if I've properly introduced myself or said thank you for many thoughtful and often witty posts that nourish this hungry soul. I love this one. And as a physician turned homeschooler, baptist turned lutheran, I need all the help I can get.
So thank you dear ladies for a great blog.
And thank you Rebekah for a great post.

edie said...

Of course, I forgot to say I linked to you today. Hope that's okay :)

Rebekah said...

Dr. H, I said they couldn't eat pudding cups, didn't I? (No hard feelings, HF--I just have a chip on my shoulder about xantham gum. :D )

Hi, Edie--it's nice to meet you. :) Send that link on over if it's public because I can't access your profile.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. Wise advice--I plan to send some friends the link.

edie said...

Sorry about that. I must not have signed in. I'm at lifeingraceblog.com.
I found you via Issues Etc, by the way. Love those guys!

Melrose said...

wow, you really don't like pudding cups huh? :)

Here's a fun replacement:

In a saucepan melt chocolate (either morels, baking chocolate, etc) with non salted butter. Add sugar to taste. Take off stove and let cool slightly (enough to still be able to stir but not hot).

Once cool add into 1 can of coconut milk, stir well and refrigerate. enjoy :)

Melrose said...

by the way, what's wrong with xantham gum? After all I'm always looking for more products to deprive my family of. hehehe

Rebekah said...

Gotcha, hippie. I object to "smootheners" which kill children's ability to deal with textures of real food. Bring on the pesticides, though. As for a pudding cup alternative, I recommend the stovetop pudding recipe in the red plaid Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

And Edie, thanks for the link!

Leah said...

"They must be given something much better. It will take a lot longer to make."

I think that is the secret.
In "The Weight of Glory" C. S. Lewis says this:
"Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

We want our children to grow up acquiring a taste for good hearty life-long friendships, good fellowship, good food, good fun, and knowing that, in their Father's house, even the servants have a good life. So much so that the world's party pales in comparison. We want them to think, "I'd be a fool to settle for that, when I could have this!"

But you're right, it will take a little longer to make - possibly generations - hopefully.

Kristi said...

HI Rebekah,
I came over from Edie's blog and want to say a BIG THANK YOU to you (and her for posting your link). I'm going to "follow" you now! I can't even begin to tell you how timely this post is for me. I am really trying to show my children the "better" you are talking about. Even though I can't shelter them (like I would like to). I like the fact that when somethign DOES happen that they already realize isn't right (they are twins and one has PDD, they are 9 yrs old) that they immediately come to me to talk about it. And we do talk about it in great detail.
Anyway, I could write a book here in your comment box, but I will refrain! Again, Bravo!
Ps- I grew up Catholic, attended a non-denominational church for the past 3 yrs and am now going to try a Lutheran church. My kids just did a VBS there (and I posted about it ) and LOVED it. I soooo miss the liturgy and never realized that Lutheranism is exactly what I was looking for when I realized I didn't believe the same thing The Roman Catholic church did!

Kristi said...

I forgot to mention I also have a 2 yr old along with my twin 9 yr olds and hope for another (or two!)

lisa said...

Hubby likes to say: "Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth thrown in. Aim at Earth and you get neither." (CS Lewis)

Made me think of that.

Consecutive Odds said...

Xanthan gum can be useful... by the way, it is dead bacteria shells and you can buy it at your local health food store. It is a white-grey in color. If you have a food allergy diet, particularly a wheat-free diet, it adds fiber and structure to products with yeast. Some people also add it to cake and cookies as well. I really don't use it as I have to sub for eggs and dairy a lot, so I don't bake with yeast often. It's in pretty much everything in the grocery store from salad dressings to bread and it keeps ingredients stable without affecting their viscosity.

Anonymous said...

On xanthan, from Wikipedia

This means that a product [with xanthan added] subjected to shear, whether from mixing, shaking or even chewing, will thin out, but once the shear forces are removed, the food will thicken back up. A practical use would be in salad dressing: the xanthan gum makes it thick enough at rest in the bottle to keep the mixture fairly homogeneous, but the shear forces generated by shaking and pouring thins it, so it can be easily poured. When it exits the bottle, the shear forces are removed and it thickens back up, so it clings to the salad.

The article is pretty interesting, once you get past the biochemistry (no offense science nerds)

Rebekah said...

Nice to meet you too, Kristi! I love Lutheran VBS. :)

But girls, what do we need to know about carageenan? :D

Elaine said...

I like "immerse your child in the worship of the church"/ Worship is all avenues of the church, cleaning, singing, serving your neighbor, etc.
When the parents are doing that also, the children want to follow. I know that has happened with my children as they see their father especially give his whole life to the church. It's also only the grace of God that they have seen it and are following it.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this post, and agree... I think of this topic often in the terms that an old friend explained it...

Picture a graph with one line representing authority, the other representing influence. As child ages, the line representing authority falls and the line of influence rises. Hopefully, prayerfully... by His grace!