We all know the story…
A beautiful princess is born to the King of the land. He throws a grand ball and invites everyone in the kingdom.
Well, almost everyone.
He decides that the slightly-less-than-lovely Maleficent would be something of a party- pooper, so he omits her from the list.
Unfortunately, she gets wind of the event anyway and shows up to crash the party.
Just as she arrives the third good fairy is about to bestow her miraculous gift. Maleficent butts in and puts a curse on the little princess… before she is 16, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a deep, eternal sleep! “Haahahaahaha,” she cackles and disappears in a puff of smoke.
Well, in response to this evil curse, the King commands that every spinning wheel in the kingdom be destroyed and shields his darling little daughter from the knowledge of what happened.
Sadly, in the upper torrents of his very own castle there is a lone spinning wheel. And on the eve of the princess’ 16th birthday, the evil sorceress, Maleficent, tricks Beauty into finding the wheel. She pricks her finger, falls into the eternal sleep, and the evil witch is victorious! (At least for a time…)
Now, what in the world does this have to do with parenting?
Dealing With The Spinning Wheel
There are those in this world of ours that believe it was Beauty’s ignorance of the curse and the existence of spinning wheels that caused her to prick her thumb. “You have to inform your children about these things, expose them to it, and then they will know how to deal with it,” they will say.
Margie and I actually believe that there is wisdom in this principle – if it is used correctly.
How most parents use the principle is all backwards. They fail to teach their children about evil in word and precept, but drag their children around town, finding every evil spinning wheel they can and shoving their children’s poor little fingers on the needle. They encourage –should I say “force” – their children to not only know about the existence of the dreaded spinning wheel, but they ensure that the child actually experiences the pain the wheel can inflict on them.
“What??,” your cry, “no parents do this. How can you be so radical and so cruel in even suggesting that parents inflict this kind of damage on their children!”
I know, I know… curse me, and ban me from the castle. But ‘tis true.
Movies – Our Modern Spinning Wheel
Let’s take one simple example… movies.
How many parents out there have taken their young children – say their 8, 9, and 10 year old (or younger) children to a nice, fun, family movie, like say, Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean”?
Almost every well-meaning, responsible parent that I know, has done this very thing.
Looking up the movie at www.filmratings.com, we find this rather
interesting information for the three warm, family-friendly, Disney, pirate movies (sarcasm intentional): “Rated PG-13 for action/adventure violence” and “Rated
PG-13 for intense sequences of adventure violence, including frightening images.”
My first thought when I’ve seen young children standing in line at these movies, is that even the liberal, highly insensitive movie rating people recognized that this movie was not suited for young people under the age of 13. But, if they were accompanied by a wise adult, they could be allowed in as an exception.
So, in they went to consume intense violence and frightening images.
“Oh,” says the parent out of one side of their mouth, “there is nothing wrong with that movie. It was good.”
And with the other side of their mouth, they are complaining to their friends that they’re having discipline problems with their children at home and at school, the siblings just won’t stop fighting with each other, the home is in an uproar half the time, and their teenager has suddenly transformed into a monster(“magically overnight”), and their little ones are scared of the dark and having nightmares.
Not Just a Single Prick… It’s Saturation
It wouldn’t be too bad if it was just an occasional movie and the poor little thumbs could heal up in between treatments, but the little tikes come home from the movies and turn the TV on to “enjoy” “funny” shows like the Simpson’s (or whatever the current version of systematic parent abuse and neutering, is running on the TV these days… yes, we are ignorant, sheltered and out of the current programming loop).
The force-feeding of disrespect, violence, and ill manners just keeps on going.
And now, enter the iPod from stage right. With the right hand having been bloodied by the “family-friendly” Pirates and our role model Bart Simpson, our children turn to the soothing sounds of today’s inspiring music to help them finish off the left hand. Of course, as parents we have bought the iPod for our children and provided the iTunes account with our stored credit cards so they can get whatever musical selection they want. In fact, if we are really cool and good parents, we will even load it up for them with the latest hits.
A Word of Apology and Explanation
Now, if you have made it this far into the article without pushing delete and unsubscribing, then I commend you and simultaneously apologize for the sarcasm.
Everyday we receive dozens of emails from parents frustrated with the behavior of their children. Everyday Margie and I get requests to please help parents with this or that challenge they are having. Everyday, we hear cries from all over Canada and the United States about how far children, teens, and college kids have stooped.
And we are stunned that none of them make the connection between today’s social programming and the struggles their children face. (And no, it is not just through the media selections, the Adversary has found lots of ways to get parents to prick their children’s fingers and make us all feel good about it…)
By now, you must think that I believe all parents are idiots, bad, cruel and inept. This is simply not true. What I really think is that most parents simply don’t know. This world that we live in today has sprung up on all of us in an instant, subtly and with great art. Like the frog in the pot of cold water, we have silently sat by as the marketers and masters of
entertainment have stealthily and systematically turned up the heat.
Now, the water is boiling and many, many of our children are being eaten for dinner, served up by their parent’s own ignorance and disillusionment.
The Seeds Are Beginning to Bear Fruit… And We Don’t Like It
My friends, in all of this finger pricking, we are planting seeds. And those seeds must grow and produce fruit. Violent scenes and scary
images are not harmless. They are seeds that can and will – they must – produce fruit after their own kind.
But, there is something more insidious and destructive than the fruit in all of this. You see, in allowing our children’s fingers to be pricked, we are not teaching them to see and recognize evil, and thus shy away from it. Rather, we are distorting the lines between right and wrong inside of their little minds.
Here is a startling truth about human nature – one that parents should learn and ingrain on the palms of their hands and hearts…
Man cannot learn the difference between good and evil by learning evil. What they learn by snuggling up to the dark side is that dark is light and light is dark.
The Immortal, All-Powerful Stamp of Approval
Think of it like this…
As parents, we are the central force and source of knowledge about what is right and what is wrong in our children’s minds. From the time they are first born, these children rely on us for everything… food, shelter, clothing, laughter, love, rules, discipline, and so much more. We are the source of virtually everything they know. We are the ultimate authority in their young lives.
Now, sticking with my movie selection theme, what does the child think, when we cart them into movies like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and show them “intense violence” and “scary images”?
By taking them there, we have just put our immortal and all-powerful parental seal of approval on those actions, those thoughts, those images. Oh, yes, we can say with words, “Don’t hit your brother!”, “Be kind”, and messages of the like, but if our actions impress the seal of approval, we can be sure they will absorb the actions and disregard the words.
And by our actions we are teaching that light is darkness and darkness is light.
I repeat, we cannot teach our children to know right from wrong by feeding them the wrong. It is simply impossible.
A Better Way of Raising Children… Enter Isaiah
Amazingly enough, there is a much, much better way.
The right pattern for parenting was set out in just a few words by the prophet Isaiah thousands of years ago. Speaking of the Savior, he said this:
“Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15)
You see, that is the pattern. Stuff your children full of goodness, joy, peace, happiness, love, and purity and they will be able to recognize darkness in an instant.
It is so simple: While they are young, teach them the good, feed them “butter and honey”, the sweet, pure and delightful things of life, and when they are old they will not depart from it.
Parenting and Smoking Cessation
I learned this principle from a smoking cessation program that I came across in my early 20’s. One of the main parts of the program was to have the smoker brush their teeth 3, 4, 5, 6, sometimes 10 times day! Why? What could brushing your teeth have to do with stopping smoking?
Well, as it turns out, sucking burning weeds, leaves a smoky, dirty, gritty, nasty feeling in your mouth. Of course, smokers simply get used to this and the tar and ash never bothers them after that. They become insensitive to the dangers they are dancing
By brushing their teeth, they are cleaning those pollutants out and experiencing what it means to be clean. By brushing their teeth so much, they are learning what the good and the light and the pure feels like.
Once their souls are awakened to this sensation of clean and pure, then, and only then, can they begin to see just how damaging smoking really is to their body. In the light of this truth, they have the desire and power to make the change and shun the evil.
This power comes by learning the good, not by partaking of the bad.
Again, as human beings, we cannot learn to choose good by engaging in the bad.
Feed Your Children Butter and Honey
Butter and honey. That is what children of our day are wanting. They hunger and thirst and long for it. They are built to function best on butter and honey. It is their natural state and the source of their real happiness.
So, why have we been tricked into feeding them moldy bread and rotting meat?
As parents that care – and you are a parent that cares, or you’d never have been able to stomach this article – we can and we
must use our immortal and all powerful seal of approval to stamp the butter and honey of life and leave the finger pricking to others.
Now, one final note: Does that mean that we shelter our children and never teach them about the evils of the world. No, quite the opposite is true.
But there is a powerful difference between teaching them about evil and encouraging them to actually experience evil.
Margie and I have found that the very best way to do this is within the walls of our home.
Being Judgmental The Lord’s Way
First of all, because so many parents are pricking their children’s fingers, there are plenty of case studies to observe in any given neighborhood in the world. It is amazing to me how quickly children learn from the lives and examples of others.
In a spirit of love, we can use the lives of others to teach our children about the end result of poor choices and consuming the bad things of this world. In this regard, I firmly believe God wants us to judge others – at least judge the fruit of their actions, which is totally different than judging them and treating them with disrespect. We must carefully observe others and their actions and their lifestyle, and discern if that is the kind of life we would like to have. If not, we must avoid those choices, while still loving others.
Children get this concept very, very quickly.
So, inside of the privacy of our home, we talk about these lessons with our children. They do not have to experience the bad choices to understand the effects and fruits of those choices.
The Sweet “Honey” Of Family Scripture Study
The other way that we have found to give our children butter and honey without isolating them from a knowledge of the evils in the world is through family scripture study.
The scriptures are nothing more than a record of people’s choices through the ages and the fruits of those choices. The scriptures talk about every topic we are concerned about today: fornication, drug addictions, being disrespectful, murder, violence, homosexuality, etc, etc, etc…
There have been many times, while in the normal course of reading scriptures as a family, that we have come across words like “adultery”. In age appropriate ways, we can pause and talk about what that means and read about the consequences of these choices. In this setting, our children learn the real nature of that lifestyle – not the skewed, glamorized picture that Hollywood portrays. They can also
learn real tolerance and the power of loving and accepting the sinner, without condoning the sin.
The Real Answer to Beauty’s Spinning Wheel Dilemma
The answer to all of Sleeping Beauty’s troubles lay not in destroying the spinning wheel and keeping her in ignorance. Nor did it lie in forcing her to pick her finger so she would know what it felt like.
It lay in feeding her butter and honey, while teaching her about the very real dangers of pricking her finger. With light in her mind, purity in her heart and a sure knowledge of her true identity and the dangers of pricking her finger, as carefully taught by her parents, she would have likely avoided the spinning wheel needle, even if she had been surrounded by a thousand of them.
It is certain that Maleficent never could have tricked her into sticking her finger on that wheel. Sleeping Beauty would have known better.
Butter and honey. Feed your children butter and honey and they will know exactly how to choose the good and shun the evils of this world.