Things Parents Should NOT Do to Keep Their Kids from Becoming Cynics: Part 1

In my last post, I argued that some people become cynical jerks to stick it to their parents. Because I’m assuming most evangelical parents would prefer their kids not become cynical jerks, I have six pieces of can’t-fail advice which I just made up.

But first, one giant caveat–I’m not blaming all parents for their children’s cynicism. Some kids (like me) have great parents and still turn cynical. But if your kid does become a cynic, these things should help get through the process more easily.

Now to the fun stuff. Here are the first three suggestions:

  1. Don’t hide your kid from the world.

Viscerally, hiding makes sense. The world is a scary place, filled with temptation, doubt, and harmful philosophies. It feels like sheltering your kids from the storm is the safest thing.

Here’s the problem: you can only shelter them for so long. Then they’ll fly away: off to college, off to work, off into the world. And when that happens, the sheltered kids will see all these temptations and doubts, but won’t be equipped to handle them.

Even worse, when your kid learns about the outside, he’ll suspect his parents have been holding out on him this whole time–keeping this brave new world, with its cool ideas and new experiences, hidden on purpose.

Probably out of fear or spite.

  1.  Don’t use guilt as a weapon.

Here are some lines parents should never use:

“Do you know what you’re doing to me?”

“I feel sick about these new things you’re saying!”

“Do you want to break your mother’s heart?”

Guilt might work in the short run–your kid feels bad and stops arguing. But in the long-run, it’s counterproductive. It’s manipulative, and will eventually cause your kid to resent you even more when they realize you’re trying to trick them out of exploring new things.

And let’s be honest, it’s not good for you or your kid. Do you really want your kid’s faith to be based on guilt over how sad they’re making you?

  1. Don’t grasp too tight.

Like tweens on Instagram, some parents constantly check their kid’s opinions on important things for updates. They do this by asking them test questions. For instance:

“Didn’t you think Ted Cruz’s speech yesterday was inspiring?”

“My pastor had the best sermon on Genesis and creation–do you want to listen to it online?”

“Isn’t it horrible how your cousin is holding a beer in his profile picture?”

These never work. Besides forcing your kid into an awkward conversation, it looks neurotic. Like you’re obsessively checking them every moment for any sign of belief slippage.

Don’t do that.

Okay, that does it for my first three DON’TS. I’ll share the next three in my next post.

In the meantime: are there any of you whose parents used these techniques? Did they work?

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