How to Raise Your Children to Believe What You Believe

Dear Reader,

This is what we all want, isn’t it? Even if what we value most is tolerance and we say our children can grow up to choose their own religion and own beliefs, we still want them at least to hold on to the idea of being accepting of others’ beliefs.

But, of course, children are their own people and they do not always do what we like. Ultimately, I think this is one of those areas we just cannot completely control. There is no right curriculum which will turn your children out just the way you want them.

But that does not mean there is nothing we can do. Charlotte Mason (surprise, surprise!) has some suggestions in her fifth book, Formation of Character. Here is some of what she has to say:

“For another reason, too, we should do well to reserve before the children our opinions on burning questions. We naturally wish them to embrace our own views; but, if too great an emotional pressure has been put upon them as children, their tendency when they are older is to react in the opposite direction.” (p.203)

So point number one is: don’t try too hard to ingrain your opinions in your children; they will only rebel and go the other direction when they are older.

“Of all ways of attempting to arrive at truth, perhaps discussion is the most futile, because the disputants are bent on fortifying their own doubts, and by no means upon solving them.” (p.218)

Point number two: don’t overtalk it. Even if you are trying to have a dialogue, sometimes there is too much talk. I think this is a little more true with adults than with children but I know that I am not a confrontational person and yet when my position is attacked, my back goes up.

An alternative is to provide other minds with which our children can interact without the pressure of a live conversation:

“But, give the young skeptic a good book bearing on the questions he raised, let him digest it at his leisure without comment or discussion, and, according to his degree of candour and intelligence, he will lay himself open to conviction.” (p.218)

By this, Charlotte says, we put a solution in the child’s way without necessitating him having to fight with us about it.

My children are all under 13 and have not yet shown signs of wanting to rebel against their parents’ beliefs. But if they do some day, I hope I remember this advice and give them good books to read instead of spending all my time arguing with them.


2 responses to this post.

  1. […] difficult years when our children may start to question what they have always been taught (see this post too). Her advice is not to argue with them but to present them with good books on the subject so […]


  2. Posted by Anthea on July 13, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    This is very helpful, especially the tip about books.


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