Actor and Crocoduck-creating super-Christian Kirk Cameron is promoting a “great article” on his website that offers rather questionable advice for parents: Never explain things to your kids; just teach them to obey:
Children are not in need of lengthy, compelling explanations. What they are in need of is the understanding that God must be obeyed.
Explanations tend to focus on getting someone to agree with you. The logic for explanations runs something like this: If I can just get my children to understand the reason for my direction, then they will be more likely to follow my instruction. While this may sound like solid reasoning, it is not. Explanations are more consistent with gaining approval and winning arguments. Neither of these are appropriate goals for biblical parenting and can lead to anger in your children as Ephesians warns against.
The actual article, by Jay Younts, goes much further, stating that the no-explanations model of parenting should continue through kids’ teenage years:
Children from 6-12 must be encouraged to obey because they know this pleases God. Your discussions will be more involved than with young children, but again you are not trying to win their approval. You want them to grasp how important it is to trust God and the reliability of his word. This type of training will yield a conscience that is sensitive to the things of God.
It doesn’t take much insight to realize that teenagers and long explanations don’t go well together. Obedience with teenagers is to be primarily be focused on helping them see the value of following God because they love him and that God’s ways are the only ones that can be trusted. Your goal is to have conversations not explanations.
Because if there’s one thing teenagers know how to do, it’s obeying authority…
This is just awful advice, no matter how you slice it. Children need to learn how to question, how to reason, and how to think through the consequences of their actions. I know parents would love it if their kids obeyed their every word, but at some point, those kids also need to learn why you think the way you do. There are reasons for why they need to come home by a certain time, and why they should share their toys, and why they shouldn’t draw on the wall with crayons that go well beyond “Because I said so.” A well-reasoned explanation, at least in theory, should help them understand where you’re coming from and give them more of an incentive to follow your rules. Does it always work? Of course not. But it sure as hell has a better chance of succeeding than “Do what we say or else the Baby Jesus will cry.”
There’s a time and place for kids to listen to you without asking questions. That time and place sure as hell isn’t “always.”
It makes sense coming from Cameron, though. Questions lead to learning. Learning leads to even more critical thinking. And that never ends well for anyone who promotes Creationism.
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