A very good friend once helped me with an issue I was having. We are constantly teaching Cassie correct and incorrect behavior. For example, throwing a fist-flinging, leg-kicking fit is not okay, but communicating your feelings strongly is okay, even with tears. Or another example: smoking and damaging your body is not okay, but keeping your temple clean is best.
So, as an observant child, Cassie would notice other children and people doing these many things that we had told her were not okay. With the good heart she has, and very outspoken nature like her mother, she would say, “oh he’s smoking! That is bad! Its not good for his body!” right in front of the smoker, which would be quite embarrassing.
One day I asked Amy, who had two boys of her own, what she did in such cases. She shared how she tells her children that it is okay for that person but not for her children. Until today I thought that to be a great idea. But today I realized maybe not. Everything we teach Cassie is from the Bible. Where in the Bible does it say that its okay for some people to sin but not others? It doesn’t. The Bible clearly says that all have sinned and all sinners go to hell without the covering of Christ’s blood and God’s forgiveness. (Romans 3:22-24) In essence, we were unintentionally teaching her that sin is okay for some people.
I realized this during a conversation with her that went something like this:
”Mommy, do we have glue?”
”No, honey, I apologize. We don’t.”
”Well mommy… Maybe a fairy will come and see we don’t have any glue and make me have glue.”
I thought about this for a moment. How imaginative… Then I realized that would be magick, which we teach Cassie the Bible clearly says that magick is sin. (Deuteronomy 18:9-11; Galatians 5:19-23) So instead of letting the imaginative moment go by, I decided to teach her a bit.
"What would that be, Cassie?”
”It would be glue.”
”No, Cassie. If they gave you glue, what would they be doing?”
”Yes. And magick is wrong, isn’t it?”
”Well, yes I know magick is bad for me. But its okay for fairies.”
That made me realize what we had been teaching her. She was right; we had been teaching her that it was okay for others.
“No, Cassie, magick is never okay, not even for fairies.” I told her.
Now some of you may think that I should let imaginative moments be and not try to teach my kid all the time. However, I have learned with Cassie that whether I teach her intentionally or not, she is always learning. So I could let imaginative moments go by, but if she is wrong she is learning from me that wrong thing is right since I didn’t correct it. Which just means I’ll have to go back later and teach her about it. I take every chance I get to teach her. I am laying the foundation for the rest of her life. To me, teaching her is like making a foundation for a house. If a large rock fell into the concrete and created a lump you wouldn’t just leave it there; you would take it out! If you left it there it would be nearly impossible to remove once the concrete dries. Its the same thing. Un-teaching a child is incredibly difficult. I have experienced this with my husband. My husbands’ mom, dad or someone taught him something or didn’t teach them something so now I have to re-train my husband. It is a pain and very difficult. (I’m sure he has the same experience with me from time-to-time.)
So I guess from now on I’ll have to teach her that while other people sin, often blatantly in front of you, it is not our job to make them stop. It is our job to love them and stay firm in our beliefs and correct ourselves so we don’t model sinful behavior. Its hard, though, because a certain amount of discernment is healthy and important. How can you choose “good company” so your good character wont be corrupted without a bit of discernment? (1 Corinthians 15:33) I think its more the attitude you use when looking at others. A lens of love is always best.