This page came across my Facebook feed today:
I was raised a Mormon and I still follow the Mormon world a bit now that I’m an ex-Mormon (or former-Mormon or an apostate Mormon or whatever else you might label me).
I love these sorts of lists. I fully recognize they are ridiculous too, but I still like reading them. Apparently I’m not alone as such lists are pretty command and popular. This particular list seems like pretty standard stuff for a religious group. Pretty standard and probably mostly good advice. Mostly good, but certainly not all good–there’s some pretty bad stuff there too. Here’s the list and my comments:
- Not teaching your children how to work effectively.No issues here and the suggestions are pretty good too: spend time doing work with kids, make work fun, encourage summer jobs. It all seems like good advice to me.
- Teaching children that obedience is optional.Oh boy, here we go with the fundamentalists. This is so ridiculous and I am so tired of hearing about it. But it’s not just the religious that spew forth the desire to create nice obedient robots. The non-religious might call it “First Time Obedience” which apparently means getting your children to obey you the first time you ask. Sometimes obedience is labelled “responsibility” and people talk about making their children be responsible, but it’s really obedience only lightly disguised.
Here’s an exercise you should do that I learned from Alfie Kohn (you should read his books, they really inspired me). Here’s what you do: list the top traits you want your children to have. I’d be surprised if obedience is on your list and if it’s on the list you probably think that your childrenshould be obedient to you but not necessarily obedient to everyone else (in which case you might want to reconsider your list).
The point is, of course, most of us want to encourage our childrento be independent thinkers who will “obey” when it makes sense and do something different when it doesn’t make sense.I actually did like the suggestion on the Mormon page: “Have your children help create some family rules.” This is probably a good exercise to do with your children. But, the Mormons go on to completely ruin their nice idea by saying that, “When rules are broken, children should be disciplined.” So stupid and not good for forming a strong parent-child bond.
- Protecting children from anything they don’t want to do, or anything that is hard, uncomfortable, or inconvenient.Good point. It definitely seems like many parents (and teachers, and everyone else) try to protect children from anything difficult.
- Teaching your children that agency means freedom.I’m not sure but “agency” might be “Mormonspeak,” a form of Orwell’s Doublespeak. This nonsense seems pretty common to religions and is just another way of trying to convince children (and adults) to obey but to think they are choosing instead of just obeying. Its absurd. But, their point is still worthwhile–we want our children to understand that there are natural consequences to some actions. The Mormons say, “Help them understand that wise choices lead to more freedom…” Good point, but I hate it when parents impose punishments and tell the kids that these punishments are “natural.”
- Teaching your children that you will be there to solve every problem.Great point here and the suggestions are great too: “Instead of telling your child what they are going to do, ask them, ‘What do you think about this?’ Or ‘How will you solve that problem?’ Instead of giving your children all of the answers, teach them how to find the answers on their own. Don’t do anything for your children that they can do on their own!”
- Sheltering children from rejection and disappointment.Another good point made by the Mormons! They go on to say, “Don’t cushion your children from every challenge and trial. Instead, help them face obstacles head on. Help your children understand the purpose of opposition and challenges, as well as how to learn and grow from failures.”
I couldn’t agree more!
- Teaching your children that they don’t need a testimony right now–it can wait until they are older.I’m not sure but I suspect “testimony” might be more “Mormonspeak.” In case you don’t know, “testimony” means a belief in all the religious dogma and an ability to tell others of this belief. This is so absurd. They are essentially telling you to make sure your child is programmed early. When speaking of the “liberal” idea of letting your child figure things out for him/herself, the Mormon author says, “That’s not how the equation works.” The Mormon author goes on to say, “Teach your children to always be where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there, doing what they are supposed to be doing. Don’t let your children waste so much time in idle pursuits, such as with video games and social media.”
By my count, the Mormons have 4 good points and 2 bad points and 1 that is mediocre. Not too bad but the bad points are really bad. And, they didn’t go on to list some of the other mistakes that a parent can make, mistakes that are really bad. How about the following list of mistakes to avoid as a parent.
- Abusing your child (including spanking, yelling and belittling).
- Treating your child like an “it” instead of like a real person.
- Insisting that your child ignore what he/she wants to do in life and instead follow what you say.
- Scaring your child (terrorists, your punishment, strangers, exploring, alcohol, drugs, guns, fighting, authority, etc.).
- Praising your child all the time (instead of helping your child develop his/her own internal sense of pride).
- Letting your child watch TV/ipad/iphone/etc all the time.
- Telling your child that their concerns aren’t important (“oh, that’s nothing to worry about!”)
- Lying to your child.
I’m sure it would be easy to add to this list, but you get the point. Probably a better list than the list the Mormons put together. Of course, they are tasked with making an army of robots to take over the world . . . . . . .