I learned many interesting theories in my university education courses. I say interesting to be gracious, but I really mean ludicrous. After sitting through an hour of Educational Psychology, I would walk out of the class wondering if the psychologists had raised any children of their own. It seemed that they just peeped through big picture windows, watched other families and made up crazy ideas. But, since I didn’t have any children of my own at that point, I just filed away the information for future reference.
When I had children, I could say with experiential confidence, that I did not believe any of the theories I had learned in college.
Let’s begin with the idea that all children are born a blank slate, and environment, parents, culture, and society write on that slate to create that individual.
Wickipedia says that “Tabula rasa (Latin: blank slate) is the epistemological thesis that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception.
Generally proponents of the tabula rasa thesis favour the “nurture” side of the nature versus nurture debate, when it comes to aspects of one’s personality, social and emotional behaviour and intelligence.”
When my oldest daughter was about 18 months old, Scott and I left her with a friend to go out to dinner alone. We rarely left her, so were careful to choose this mother of many who also daycared in her home. We were excited for her chance to be with other kids.
Imagine my horror to return to my precious little girl and find out she had scratched a daycare boy. She had pinched his skin with her little fingernails and left a mark on his face. I was told it was unprovoked and it wasn’t an accident. She had reached out and mauled this poor little boy.
I was devastated. She had never seen scratching. She had never been scratched. She hadn’t seen it on TV, we didn’t own one. She hadn’t seen her Daddy and Mommy scratching each other. I still wasn’t sure if she really had meant harm, or if she was just experimenting. I kept observing.
This behavior continued. Sometimes she took toys from other kids. Sometimes she pushed. Sometimes her hair was pulled. Sometimes her toys were taken. My friends and I were NOT teaching or showing this behavior by example.
A theory I hadn’t really believed anyway could be tossed out the window.
I was not writing on her slate.
“Make sure you bite your friends.”
“Take any toy you want to play with, even if you have to pull them over to take it out of their hands.”
“If you don’t get your way, scream, yell and hit people.”
“If you want a treat and your Mommy says no, just steal it.”
“If hitting doesn’t work, try biting.”
You know what? All my kids were this way. Each one was brought into this world so beautiful, so unmarred, so precious and wonderful, yet the moment they gained any mobility, it was for their advantage.
Before you knew it, I had six wonderful biters, hitters, stealers and hair-pullers.
Instead, I had to write on their slates.
Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Matthew 7:12, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.”
I had to teach them correct behavior and come up with deterrents, punishments and instruction when they failed.
These well-meaning psychology people won’t accept that children are born with a sin nature.
Romans 3:2, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Early on show they show signs that their little hearts are selfish and self-centered. Until they are old enough to put their own faith in Jesus Christ, it is our job, as parents, to train them, guide them, help them learn how to live with their body of weakness. They each have great potential, talents, abilities and personalities that we are excited to see bursting from their precious little bodies. But, all that can be tainted if they aren’t taught to deal with their sin nature.
How do I know the sin nature is true? Because my children got it from me, a sinner saved by grace.
This was emphasized to be in a painful way the first time I slammed a cupboard door and my daughter walked up behind me and slammed it in perfect imitation. Except, I was crabby and she had an adorable little smile on her face, so pleased that she was able to perfectly mimic her mommy.
I do strongly believe that parenting affects our children, and I take my role as a Christian mother seriously. I know that environment, culture and society affect our children, so I am careful in what and who I allow them to be exposed to, to watch, to see and to hear.
The psychologists are right that influential writings are etched upon our children’s slates. They are just wrong by not accepting that they are sinners by nature and the writing that will change them for eternal good is etched into the tablet of their hearts by the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 3: 2-3, “… you are a letter of Christ … written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.”
So, while we are correcting, instructing, guiding and helping our dear children, we are constantly pointing them to the Lord Jesus, using His beautiful Words of Life to mold and shape their hearts and minds.
We long for them to trust Him as their Savior, and write on their sin-stained slates,
“I Am A Sinner,
Saved By Grace.”