Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

A Facebook friend sent me a link to a wonderful YouTube video. The clip, which apparently has now gone viral with over 366,000 views so far, captures 3-year-old Hannah as she recites a freestyle prayer before bedtime. Her exhausted dad rests on the bed beside her while her mom records the proceedings and offers a running supply of “Amens” and “Hallelujahs” and “That’s right, Hannahs” from behind the camera.

The video starts off as one of those sweet little things that you see on YouTube (you know, like the little girl quoting a mashed-up version of the Twenty-Third Psalm or the little boy awaking from an anesthesia-induced fog following a visit to the dentist). But after a couple minutes, you realize that Hannah is not your ordinary precocious 3-year-old; this little girl is an evangelist-in-the-making who is literally preaching her bedtime prayer. Clearly, the child is speaking out of an anointing of the Holy Spirit—and I’m not one to casually throw around statements like that. This child is on fire!

Check out the video below.

After watching the clip, I was truly moved. But then I clicked through to YouTube and noticed some of the viewers’ comments. Most of the viewers were as awestruck as I was. Here’s a few of their comments:

WOW! The Bible says train up a child; I applaud this mom and dad and say” Well done.

Jesus asked us to come to Him with childlike faith. Hannah is a great example of this! You can tell she believes everything she’s saying with her WHOLE heart! We should all be like that. Keep praising Jesus, Hannah! Don’t ever let age take away your PASSION!!

God’s word and praise from the mouth of a baby! Praise God for Hannah!

This is amazing!! It’s always great to see the results of parents raising their children up with the Lord in their life. we need more kids around like this and then maybe things like Columbine wouldnt happen. Keep up the good work with your daughter!!

But then I began to notice a string of comments from viewers who were disturbed by Hannah’s prayer. They felt her behavior was evidence of brainwashing and of her parents pushing their religion on an impressionable young child. At least one compared it to abuse. Some examples:

I passionately oppose religious brainwashing on children… THIS IS CHILD ABUSE AND BRAINWASHING POOR KID.

The only thing this video is proof of is behavioral modification….normally referred to as brainwashing. It’s what cultists and Islamic Madrasas do to create the kind of unthinking obedience necessary to martyrdom. This kind of thing is disgusting and abusive. A child this age has no conception of what the words she is saying even mean.

This is not to down nobodies religion as I was raised a Christian…. What I DO have a problem with is fundamentalist thinking those want to convert others ESPICALY YOUNG CHILDREN into their cult. Im disturbed by this.

The kid doesn’t understand anything more than the feedback she’s getting from Mom. You can get a kid to recite the quotations of Chairman Mao like this. This is how the Taliban programs future martyrs. It’s ugly, unthinking nonsense.

I was dumbfounded. I’ve heard these types of arguments before, but as I watched that little girl share from a heart that was obviously overflowing with God’s Word and wonderful values from her parents that had stuck, it never crossed my mind that this little girl was being programmed to parrot her parents’ narrow-minded beliefs. Her faith looks real to me. She owns it.

At the same time, a child does not embrace a faith like that without the ongoing nurturing and encouragement and prayers of her parents, grandparents, Sunday School teachers, etc. After all, as Christians, isn’t it our job to pass along these values to the next generation?

But can we, as Christian parents, ever cross the line? There are certainly stories of children who have been indoctrinated into religious or ideological beliefs that have been damaging to their young psyches. I think of the news reports I’ve watched of little children who are growing up under the firm hand of white supremacist parents, or children who are being raised under the influence of any number of cult-like movements.

Then there are parents who raise their children under the religion of money, fame, and commerce. I think of little Falcon Heene being pimped out by his parents for the promise of a reality-TV show and driven to the point of vomiting on live television.

Or what about Marcus Jordan, the son of Michael Jordan?

Marcus, a freshman at the University of Central Florida, is currently causing his new school all sorts of grief with his insistence that he will be wearing his dad’s brand of Nike shoes during games rather than the Adidas brand that the college’s athletic teams are contractually required to wear. So far, UCF has been scrambling to accommodate its famous freshman (and that potentially lucrative link to his famous dad) while trying not to jeopardize its $3 million agreement with Adidas.

I love Michael Jordan the ballplayer, but I can’t help thinking Michael Jordan the dad has apparently raised a son to believe that consumer marketing and product placement and Nike brand loyalty are more important values than humility and team unity and honoring the obligations of his athletic scholarship. As Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (who is a Christian) has said, “If you’re going to be on the team, you have to do what the team asks you to do.” You would think Marcus’s dad would be dispensing that same type of advice.

Or, how about the Ohio teenager from a strict Muslim family who ran away from home after converting to Christianity because she claims her father threatened to kill her for becoming a Christian? After seeking refuge at a Christian couple’s home in Florida, a judge ruled that the girl must be returned to Ohio. Yikes!

Parenting is no easy task these days—and neither is being a kid. There are so many dangers, toils, and snares—gray areas that will trip up even the most well-intentioned, well-prepared folks who have read all of Dobson’s books.

Having spent the last nearly ten years raising little people—or, perhaps more accurately, helping my wife raise them (just kidding)—I sincerely have to salute parents who are able to instill an enthusiastic faith and passion for God into their children. This, I believe, is one of the most important jobs in the world. As Chris Rock has said, “Sometimes I look at my daughter …  and I realize my only job in life is to keep her off the pole!” [Here’s the YouTube clip of Rock; beware of his explicit language.]

Anyhow, back to little Hannah’s prayer. I’m curious to know what you folks out there think about the video and the criticism that this 3-year-old girl is somehow being brainwashed or abused by her parents because she demonstrates such a strong and ardent faith in God. Should we rejoice or be concerned?


Read Full Post »

You probably never thought you’d be reading about girls’ dolls here at Reconciliation Blog, did you? However, the recent court case that sent MGA Entertainment, makers of the notorious Bratz dolls, down in defeat to the toy giant Mattel forces me to go where no RB post has gone before. I’m sure you heard this news last week, right?

In a long-simmering legal battle, the courts finally sided with Mattel, maker of the Queen of All Dolls, Barbie, and ordered MGA to stop producing the Bratz line and  recall all of its product after Christmas. Apparently, the original Bratz designer was employed by Mattel during the period when he came up with the idea for the Bratz dolls. When Mattel rejected it (fearing it would distract from its sacred Barbie line), an ex-Mattel employee took sketches of the concept up the road to the upstart MGA. And the rest is doll diva history. The Bratz line became a multibillion dollar sensation almost overnight.

Now Mattel is in the driver’s seat. Will it vanquish Barbie’s arch foe once and for all, or will the company be gracious to MGA (and its 1,500 employees) and find a way to work with it to keep producing the Bratz line? With billions at stake, I find it hard to think that Mattel will just erase the Bratz altogether.

But is this just a battle between two toy companies or something bigger?

Here’s the angle that draws my attention. The Bratz have long been viewed by parents as a skanky and materialistic alternative to Barbie—sort of a Bizarro version of Mattel’s classy and demure icon. Many parents probably celebrated when they heard the news of the Bratz’s potential demise. There’s one less worldly item to attempt to keep their little girls away from. (As a father of a 9-year-old daughter, I can attest that I was always a little uncomfortable with the Bratz—the same way that I’m uncomfortable with Sponge Bob; there’s just something about them that makes me suspicious.) And clearly, the Bratz’s blatant diva-ness and questionable attire are things any parent should be wary of.

One blogger, known as Noble Mother, did not hide her elation that the Bratz dolls might soon be off the shelves. However, I was most struck by the comments beneath her post, and one in particular by a mother named Suzanne. Here’s what she said:

I don’t particularly like the Bratz dolls, either, but I do allow my daughter to have some, and here’s why: my daughter is mixed (I’m white, her dad is black) and there just aren’t many dolls on the market that she can identify with. In fact, my daughter IS a Bratz doll…she has the doe eyes, the full lips, the big butt and she’s a knockout at 9.

Until the Bratz dolls came on the market, my daughter just wasn’t really interested in dolls of any kind. She and I have lots of conversations about ‘what she is’…and she’s decided she’s not white, she’s not black, she’s brown. She’s often asked why there are never any brown babies in the stores? There are white and there are black, but not brown. And I’m sure she’s not been the only little girl asking this question.

The Bratz dolls, while I have major issues with many other factors about them, have given my daughter a sense of validation of her color. Now, there are dolls on the store shelves that look just like her. She no longer has to decide whether she wants a white doll or a black doll…she can get one that looks just like her.

Very interesting insight, as is Noble Mother’s humble response. Please check it out.

So again, this Bratz vs. Barbie mêlée seems to be about much more than two toy titans clashing to protect their precious market turf. In fact, this whole situation could raise the larger question: Does Barbie represent an increasingly outdated notion of what “normal” mainstream culture looks like, while the Bratz signify a more multiethnic (or urban) aesthetic that is underrepresented among children’s dolls today? Even millionaire celeb Angelina Jolie, who adopted an African daughter, spoke up on this recently.

So, as much as it pains me to ask this, do we need the Bratz dolls? What do you think?




Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: