Friday, August 26, 2011

If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there

Claire has these CDs called the Scripture Scouts.  We play them around the house and we sing along in the car. Every time I hear them I cringe a little inside. Our favorite CD talks about family and how important it is.  It talks about getting along, about being kind at home and about how God loves us and wants our families to be happy.  There are also songs that talk about moms and dads and how families are made up of moms and dads and kids.  There is one song in particular that every time I hear it I'm tempted to whisper to Claire, "I want you to get married and have kids but if you choose something different I will still love you and you will still find happiness."

Every time I play the CDs I think about indoctrination.  I imagine that in North Korea* moms are playing CDs that are just like the ones I play at home but instead of talking about how families are so great they talk about how great Kim Jung-il is.

I have very strong religious beliefs but one of my strongest beliefs is that we have to come to those on our own.  I believe that God loves us and will speak to each of us and guide our lives if we seek his help.  That makes it hard to tell my baby that if she is good and does what she should she will be happy and if she isn't good and doesn't do what she should she will be punished--because I don't really believe that.

Last night while talking to some friends whose kids are older I expressed this concern and asked if they had ever felt the same thing. We laughed about how pictures of Jesus and Temples on the walls really aren't that different than pictures of the fearless leader. One of my friends is studying to be a family therapist and she had really great insights.  She talked about how children aren't capable of the "shades of grey" thinking that my version of morality requires.  They see the world in black and white--lying is bad, telling the truth is good and there is nothing in between.

As she was telling us that, I realized that Claire has to take her version of right and wrong from somewhere.  She has to have a jumping off point to start her negotiating of morality and if I don't give her one, someone else will--and it will be the Disney Princesses, or the Barbie Fairy Princesses or any other of the myriad of entities that tell girls that they can be as selfish as they want to be, that they have to love pink, that they aren't smart enough, thin enough, strong enough or good at math and science.

If I have to pick between the Disney Princesses and The Scripture Scouts, I'm gonna pick The Scripture Scouts every time.  So please know that the songs about how Jesus wants us to chose the right, obey our parents, get married, have kids and study hard in school are going to continue but they will be accompanied by my heart's whispering that morality isn't always black and white and no matter what she chooses to do with her life she will be loved, loved, loved.

*if you haven't listened to this podcast about how North Korea makes money you should.  It's AWESOME.


  1. Several thoughts on this:
    1)Don't you find that lots of LDS "culture" stuff (e.g. the stuff they sell at Deseret Book) is kind of brainwashy--cause I do and I think it is important to realize that is not necessarily the Gospel. The stuff the Church itself puts out is always great, I think.
    2)Regardless of the brainwashing/indoctrination, don't the Scripture Scouts make you want to pull your hair out? Just listening to snippets makes me feel like I am trapped inside a preschool of singing religious muppets. You are a better mother than me.
    3)I agree that children need a moral compass. They don't understand complex moral reasoning at this age. And if we leave it up to whatever happens, they will have absolutely no moral compass. Even if Claire picks a different path, she will probably still hold dear many of the values you taught her--and they will be universal truths.
    PS. You are a good and thoughtful mom. You are doing an amazing job. You are not at all comparable to North Korea.

  2. I have the Scripture Scouts songs as well, and I always skip the ones about how good it is to have a Mom...and what Dads do....My favorites are of course, Hurray for Babies and the Light songs. I agree that lots of the Deseret Book stuff is simplistic. I find that even if the work has absolute jewels of thought and principles, it's packaged too neatly...and made a bit "surfacey" (a word I just made up). Life and the paths we take are complex and I don't know the best way to approach complexity; except I think it's in sharing our thoughts and reasoning with our kids.