I don’t like the word BRAINWASHING. It is a forceful method of trying to control others through coercive persuasion, influence, manipulation, etc. Fear of violence to self or rejection can certainly motivate one to adapt others’ professed beliefs and behavior. Many cults or terrorist groups practice this type of MIND or thought CONTROL. Few families use this mode of operation, teaching by fear of punishment or rejection. They hopefully teach with quiet example, love and integrity to their professed beliefs or lifestyle.
Being a religious person who has tried to raise my children to believe in a higher power, some individuals have suggested that I'm brainwashing my children. While these same people see themselves as being in a freedom mode teaching their offspring that there is no one in charge of the universe, that life began through random unplanned events––a big bang. I don’t think that EITHER of us is brainwashing our family members, but only teaching them our own traditions and beliefs. Children when they are grown will make their own judgments on what religion or philosophy to follow or not follow. Although, we are certainly influenced by other’s examples and our own upbringing.
To teach nothing is not the answer. Leaving the child to their own resources, doesn’t solve the problem. A child needs security and meaning in their lives which generally comes from the parents or in some cases grandparents or other extended family members. Although, we do need to honor stewardships lines of who is responsible for teaching the child. Conformity is not family unity. There needs to be space for individuals within a family to explore different life styles without upsetting the family galaxy or leading to guilt feelings on anyone’s part. Agreeing to disagree is an important principle is this case.Not taking others rejection of your life style personally is easier said than done, but it’s important to teach that EACH person is responsible for how they live their life as an adult in a positive way and not just continuing to rebel against family or society norms without thought. It ultimately comes down to the question of what to teach our children to help them develop into fully functioning, loving responsible adults. To ask is to teach, to tell is to preach is a great standard to measure our teaching techniques. NEXT TIME: Standards of Behavior