Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Teaching Children Faith

One of the worst parts of child psychology is its emphasis on always giving children a reason for what you ask of them. I believe strongly in doing so in most instances, but there is a very valuable lesson that children need to learn that gets overlooked if they always have a detailed explanation - the willingness to do something simply because it is asked by someone they trust. Always giving them a justification literally destroys their ability to build a foundation of faith - an understanding of simple trust.

As I said, I believe in the principle of explaining requests (as well as a healthy questioning of authority), but quite often I simply make the request without any explanation - just to see if my children will do what I ask of them. I think Heavenly Father does the same with us.


SilverRain said...

So true! And a good reminder.

I think I tend to overexplain myself to my girls.

Thanks, Ray.

Paul said...

Well, if you ask your child to do something without explanation, you may teach her faith in you. That's not the same as teaching faith.

Papa D said...

I disagree, Paul.

Let me emphasize what I said twice in the post:

I believe in explaining myself to my children in most situations. We talk about everything and anything. However, faith is defined explicitly as dealing with the unseen - the unknown - the stuff not understood completely.

If we give our children explanations for everything, they come to expect to be able to understand everything - and that expectation robs them of the ability to accept what they can't know.

I'm not talking about "blind faith". I don't think there is such a thing. I think "blind faith" is code for "close your mind and do what I say" - and that's not what I mean with this post. I think faith requires open-eyed acceptance of the unknown - and there are times when I simply choose not to try to explain something to my children and ask them to accept it for now. I ask them to *exercise* faith in what I say - to accept it even though they don't understand fully because of their belief and trust and hope in me.

We believe in "faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ" - so faith in "someone" is a vital aspect of faith as a whole.

adamf said...

Paul, I think I get what you mean, but I have to go with Ray here. Too many people can't handle any amount of ambiguity or uncertainty, and expect there to be a clear answer of everything.

Anonymous said...

Hm,I think there is plenty ambiguity in our lives,without me creating it.I just tell my kids that we can't explain everything,and sometimes we just have to suck it up.It's the explainable that's a little short around here.How about earthquake,famine,disease and disability for starters.

However,I think this can be an important lesson in reverence and awe for creation,in all it's chaos and ambiguity. ButI don't think it needs any help from me.

Paul said...

I'll try again to leave a comment. (This is my fourth attempt, but for some reason blogger doesn't want to accept it...)

Papa D,

My comment was not meant to signal I had not read the OP. Nor did I really mean to suggest what you were doing was a bad idea.

Children do need to learn to trust their parents and to obey them.

But as you point out the first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. My kids know I'm not the Savior, so I need to find other ways to teach them that faith than just getting them to obey me without a reason.

I'm no expert on this matter, and if building a bridge from learning to trust you to learning to trust the Lord works for you and your kids, that's terrific.

Papa D said...

"My kids know I'm not the Savior, so I need to find other ways to teach them that faith than just getting them to obey me without a reason."

I agree - and I never said or implied otherwise. *grin*