From time to time you will hear the accusation leveled against Christians that we are indoctrinating our children when we teach them the faith. For some, the idea of “indoctrinating” someone is intolerable and must at all costs be avoided. For others, like myself, the response is: what’s the big deal? After all, indoctrination is happening whether we are involved or not. I just happen to prefer the notion of being directly involved in the shaping of my child’s life.
There are some people who will say that they refuse to teach their faith in the house because it is unfair to the children and that the young people should be allowed to make their own decisions. But, we don’t live in a vacuum. We live in a world that is full of ideas and worldviews that are being pumped into the minds of people 24/7. So, they hand over the task of teaching their children a doctrine about the world, shaping their worldview, to the school system, television, radio, print media, and peers. Interestingly enough, in an effort to step away from “indoctrinating” their children, they have simply subcontracted the job out to others. Perhaps this is in an effort to feel better about themselves or there is some sense of parental ineptitude.
Regardless, handing over a parent’s influence in a child’s life to whomever it may concern is terribly irresponsible and a disservice to the child. Parents are put into the life of a child for more than the purpose of birth. Our job is not just to see them safely delivered from the womb and then provide room and board while the state, or society, shapes their mind and brings them into adulthood. That is the mindset of some sort of socialist system. Instead, mom and dad are key in raising up a strong and civil society. It is in the home that values are transmitted (more on that another day), a work ethic is instilled, and a way of seeing and understanding the world is developed.
Indoctrination is unavoidable. Companies seek to indoctrinate employees, the military indoctrinates our nation’s warriors, the media indoctrinates its audience, and the list could go on. So, if indoctrination is unavoidable, the question becomes: why shouldn’t I be involved? If I shirk my responsibility as a parent and say, “go ahead school, teach my child everything they need to know about the world,” I have still been involved in the indoctrination of my child. Passive involvement is still involvement.
There are also those that have been duped into the idea that, if only they remove religious influences from the home, the charge of indoctrination cannot fall on them. But this is nonsense. If you filter information, then you are involved in indoctrination. This is indoctrination by omission instead of commission. So, for the parents that believe they have done their child a favor by omitting religious teaching from the home in an effort to be free from indoctrination, I must tell you that you failed miserably. Indeed, you have been just as involved in indoctrinating your child as those you sought to avoid being like. You have simply indoctrinated your children into irreligion. And, if you are so irresponsible as to shirk all duties in the shaping of your child’s worldview, then you have just allowed someone else to indoctrinate your child and sacrificed the tremendous opportunity you were given by God to have an active role in the shaping of that child.
I say all of this to encourage parents to be involved in the shaping of your child’s worldview. Be actively engaged in their life. Take time to talk and play together. Live out what is important to you in your daily life and your children will take note. Show your love for one another, demonstrate a love for God, and be available to answer questions as best as you can. As the days march on a parent’s direct influence becomes increasingly less and the youngster will soon grow into a man or woman and start a family of his or her own. Please, don’t let those precious days go by without making the effort to positively impact your child’s life.