Tag Archives: Parenting

How to explain the strange parts the Bible to your kids

Bible study that hits the spot
Bible study that hits the spot

The article I want to link to today is from super-mom Christian apologist Natasha Crain, who writes at Christian Mom Thoughts. She has lots of interesting ideas about how to introduce kids to apologetics, which is really important, especially the way things are going in the culture. Parents have to be watching out for the kids who has a plan for making sure that Christianity is presented to them intelligently and effectively. If both parents do this, it works much better.

Anyway, here is her topic:

With the start of the new school year, we’ve begun reading through the Bible together as a family again (see this post if you want to know more about what we’re doing).

One reason I love the children’s Bible we’re using is that it includes far more stories and much more detail than most children’s Bibles I’ve seen. That means we’ve had the opportunity to dig deeper into Genesis than our young kids have ever dug before. And there’s a running theme to what they’re noticing about these new stories:

There’s a lot of really strange stuff in the Bible.

For example, we’ve been reading stories like Abraham entertaining angels, angels striking a crowd with blindness, Lot’s wife turning into salt, God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and Jacob wrestling with God.

I hope you don’t think it’s irreverent to label these and many other Bible stories as strange. The definition of strange is “unusual or surprising in a way that is hard to understand; not previously visited, seen, or encountered; unfamiliar or alien.”

To acknowledge and discuss with our kids that the Bible is strange is not irreverent…it’s actually extremely important when preparing them to engage with a secular world. In this post, we’ll take a look at why that’s the case, and how to discuss biblical strangeness with your kids.

The rest of her post has a lot of strategies for explaining the strangeness in the Bible to your kids. It’s a long post, and it’s got a ton of useful advice.

On this blog, we believe in evidence, so this part of her post jumped out at me:

There are a lot of things in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, that are strange because they recount historical events tied to an ancient culture far different than our own. For example, in Genesis 15:9-21, God reiterates the covenant he had with Abraham by having him cut a bunch of animals in half and leave a path in the middle for God to pass through (as a smoking fire pot and flaming torch).


When we read this story last week, I had no idea what it was about. Somehow I had always read right through it. So we researched it and learned that this was a type of ritual done in the ancient Near East to seal a covenant (see this article for more). It was meaningful to Abraham based on his cultural context, but is a completely foreign idea to us.

Stories with elements of cultural strangeness are a great opportunity to:

  • Research what the significance of something was in an ancient culture.
  • Emphasize that the Bible communicates real history across thousands of years, so we naturally read about people who lived very differently than we do.
  • Talk about why so many laws very strange to us today exist in the Bible (like what to do if your ox falls into a pit—Exodus 21:33).

With the Bible, what you read has to be connected with an investigation of material outside the Bible. The means connecting what the Bible says with the evidence from history and mainstream science as much as possible. Otherwise, the Bible just becomes like any other work of fiction, and kids will find it creepy that you believe it’s real, but never connect it with anything out there in the real world. Like someone who believes that Santa Claus is real, and talks about him a lot, but never feels the need to prove anything to anyone else using evidence that a normal person would accept.

The Bible is full of interesting things to investigate. For example, the moral rules. You can read studies to find out about things like divorce, homosexuality, fatherlessness, premarital sex, and so on. You can find out what what the cuddle hormone (oxytocin) is, you can find out whether cohabitation raises your risk of divorce, you can read about the demographic crisis in Europe, etc. You can go see the Dead Sea scrolls, you can look at gospel manuscript fragments, you can look at coins and inscriptions. You can look at the science of cosmic fine-tuning, you can look at Cambrian era fossils. Bible reading isn’t meant to be self-contained. The purpose of it is not to feel good and have community with others. You’re not supposed to talk about it in the abstract, you’re supposed to test it, and put it into practice. It’s supposed to change what you value, your beliefs about the way the world really is, and how much you let God into your decision-making.

A little bit more Natasha:

Every supernatural event in the Bible should be considered strange. Miracles are by definition not part of our everyday experience. Stories with supernatural strangeness are a great opportunity to:

  • Acknowledge that some people assume miracles aren’t possible, so they reject the Bible without consideration. If God exists, however, miracles are possible (this is why it’s so important that your kids understand the evidence for God’s existence—the entire plausibility of the resurrection miracle rests on whether or not God exists).

What I have found in my church is that basic beliefs like “a Creator and Designer exists” are never argued for, but everyone keeps talking about God and miracles without ever providing any evidence. Pastors and parents all assume that God exists and that the Bible is without error – just like that and no questions asked. No criticisms are raised, nothing is responded to using normal evidence from history or science. What a disaster. We gave away all our smartest kids because we thought that not talking about truth and evidence was somehow more pious than allowing questions and debates. Would you trust someone to sell you a car or fly you to Baltimore if they kept shushing your questions and urging you to just believe?

I never grew up in this Christian family bubble. I never sat in churches and listened to pastors assume that the foundations of the faith were true, and then talk about trivialities while ignoring all criticisms being raised in the culture. I grew up watching William Lane Craig debates… it was all about scientific evidence for a Creator/Designer, answers to philosophical objections, and which parts of the Bible were most or least historically evidenced. (And we both affirm inerrancy, but I’m talking about how to talk about the Bible with a non-Christian)The normal Christian home and the normal Christian church where everything is assumed is just weird to me. Like, who would waste time with parent-talk and pastor-talk? Let’s get on to the interesting evidence and debates instead.

New study: negative effects of day care on children not caused by quality of day care

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
Mom is staying home because Dad can afford to let her: do kids benefit?

New study using National Institute of Child Health and Human Development data is discussed on the Family Studies web site.

First, let’s get the two views:

Parents, policymakers, and academics interested in how day care and preschool affect child development often embrace one of two competing—and exaggerated—claims about the childrearing circumstances that are now normative in America: that of non-family care being initiated early in a child’s first year of life on a full-time or near-full-time basis and continuing, in one form or another (e.g., family day care, center care, preschool), until the start of formal schooling.

Critics of such arrangements highlight the fact that developmental risks, like increased rates of insecure attachment and elevated levels of aggressive behavior, have been found to be associated with the extensive use of non-family care in America. Advocates, in contrast, stipulate, usually without qualification, that if the quality of care is good, then children benefit; and, indeed, that it is the limited quality of care available to too many parents in the USA that is responsible for any negative effects on children that emerge in the research literature.

All right, so the big-government, anti-family people say that day care as such isn’t bad for kids, the negative effects that are observed are not caused by too much day care, but by the low quality of the day care. The conservative, pro-family, limited-government crowd thinks that quality doesn’t matter as much as quantity – too much day care is bad for kids, regardless of quality.

The study details:

[…][T]he National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) funded, to the tune of at least $150 million, the NICHD Study of Child Care and Youth Development. It recruited more than 1,000 children (along with their mothers) in 1991 from 10 different research sites, and followed them from the first month of life to age 15. Among other purposes, the NICHD Study was designed to investigate the claim that long hours of day care initiated very early in life posed risks to children’s social and emotional development; and, should this prove so, to evaluate the proposition that such negative effects would be due to the poor quality of care that children received, not the quantity of care they experienced across the first five years of life.

And the conclusion:

NICHD Study’s findings on the effects of day care proved more consistent than inconsistent with my “developmental risk” claim. And they provided virtually no support for the idea that it was poor quality care that accounted for the negative effects of “early, extensive, and continuous” care (initiated very early in life, for long hours, and continuing for many years).2 Specifically, our many research reports revealed that the more time children spent in any kind of non-familial child care, and sometimes specifically in centers, the more aggressive and disobedient they proved to be at two (but not three) and 4.5 years of age, as well as across their elementary school years; and the more impulsive they proved to be at age 15, at which age they also engaged in more “risky” behavior than children who experienced far less non-familial care across their first five years of life. Critically, despite spending millions to carefully measure the quality of care, using methods and measures developed by the proponents of the “it’s quality, stupid” view, the study never found that the quality of care accounted for these quantity-of-care effects. In other words, the problem behavior associated with early, extensive, and continuous care emerged irrespective of whether quality of care was good or bad.

Read the whole thing, and don’t feel guilty if you can’t do the best for your kids. I am sure that everyone reading this post is going to do the best they can for their kids. But for those who have not yet had kids, let this be a lesson to you about what you should be studying in school, where you should be working, how much you should borrow, how much you should spend. A stay-at-home mom is expensive. It cannot be finessed with feelings and following your heart to fun and thrills.

When it comes to children, money is important

I know there are lots of Christians around the world who read the Bible and understand that there are certain goals laid out in the Bible for Christian parents who are raising their kids. As far as I can tell, young Christians seem to think that these goals will sort themselves out all by themselves through God’s mysterious predestination, or some other such fideistic wishing. What it really boils down to is that young people want to do what they want to do, and they can sound pious about it by saying God will somehow make their crazy plan work out. Well, that’s not effective, and young Christians would never act so ineffectively in any other area of their lives – ignoring how things really work.

Look the Bible has information about the specification that God expects you to implement. Part of that spec involves requirements for your kids. If you decide that the Bible is not trying to give you a spec, you’ll fail to deliver. If you decide that you don’t need to read studies to know how the world works, you’ll fail to deliver. If you decide that following your heart is something that God rewards more than intelligent thought, you’ll fail to deliver. You cannot feelings your way out of this assignment, you’ve got to solve the problem, and that means reading the studies and making a plan that delivers results.

So, young people. If you want to do the best for your kids, you better stop doing what feels good, and start engaging in some serious self-denial and self-sacrifice. Fumbling around chasing happy philosophy bubbles to Europe through your teens, 20s and 30s is not the right way to prepare professionally and financially for kids. Your love for your future kids begins with your decision to grow up and do hard, boring things that need to be done. You won’t be able to fix the child care costs problem at the 11th hour if you follow your heart for the first 10 hours. Keep in mind what child care looks like in places like Ontario, and what your children would be learning, and who they would be learning it from. Make a plan now.

Do husbands and wives have specific responsibilities in a marriage?

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
Marriage advice from someone who knows

I found another awesome post by Lindsay.

The post starts explaining how a woman supports a man in his role as spiritual leader of the home. I always talk about the responsibilities of a husband/father in the home being protecting, providing and leading on moral and spiritual issues. You’d be surprised how many Christian women are not OK with me claiming these roles. In fact, I am always getting criticism for buying too many gifts (providing), for being too concerned about the challenges of policies (protecting), and for being too rough on rebutting spiritual wolves – even after they admit they are wrong! (spiritual/moral leading). It is rare for me to find a Christian woman who accepts those male roles. Usually, I get attacked for all three of them. Women do not like to let me execute these tasks.

Lindsay is fine with men leading in all 3 of those roles, but this is the part of her post that I really liked:

Once children arrive, it becomes pretty much impossible for her to work outside the home and still fulfill her duties at home. The funny thing about children is that they need constant care. One cannot care for children and work outside the home too. The choice once children come along is whether to outsource the care of the children to someone else or to do it yourself. I firmly believe that God entrusts children to a husband and wife because he wants them to be the primary influences in their children’s lives. That doesn’t happen if the children spend a majority of their waking hours in the care of someone else.

Children don’t just need food and shelter provided to them, they need love, teaching, discipline, a sense of security, and examples of how they are to live. All of those things are best done when the child spends time primarily with his or her parents. Daycare workers, school teachers, and even grandparents simply cannot provide them in the same way parents can. No one loves a child like his own parents do. No one has such a vested interest in ensuring that he grows up with the proper spiritual and moral training. Even if others care about the child, the responsibility for the training of a child belongs to his parents. Daycare workers and teachers and grandparents won’t answer to God for the soul of that child. His parents will.

So, given the needs of children, I am convinced that women are called to be with their children, training and caring for them as their primary caregiver. Does that mean a mother can’t have any job outside the home? In theory, no. In practice, yes. A woman’s priority must be her own family. If she can have her children with her or leave them for only a short time each day, she may still be able to provide the necessary training and care they need from their mother and earn some income. But in doing that, she needs to be sure she is not neglecting her husband’s needs either. Theoretically, a woman can have it all – keeping a job and caring for her family too. The problem is that it is a very rare woman who has the energy to keep up with the constant needs of her children for care, training, discipline, and love and those of her husband for companionship, sex, and a partner in life as well as the logistics of running a household and still have something left for even a part-time job.

What usually happens when a woman has an outside job is that her family simply suffers the lack. Either her children spend a lot of time with other caregivers or teachers or her husband does without the companionship and marital intimacy he needs or some of the household chores descend on the husband, taking away some of his time and energy to train his children spiritually and impact the world for Christ. Often it’s a combination of these. A woman simply cannot meet all the needs of her family when she is spread that thin and, as a result, something important gets left undone.

I wish I could find women who had definite ideas about what they wanted to do with their children, but thinking back over previous relationships, what I usually hear is that they want to go on mission trips, do pro-life protests, have careers, etc. No one looks at these little kids with any sort of plan to grow them into anything. I just think it’s depressing that kids are not part of most women’s plans. If there is any plan at all it’s that there should be no plan, and the kids can just do anything they want. How depressing for the man to think about when he has to pay all the bills to raise kids who are aiming at nothing, and will surely hit it. What kind of man is excited about having children when his wife is not on board with making them into anything special? It’s depressing.

Baby elephant in China cries for 5 hours after being stomped by his mom

Baby elephant rejected by his mother
Baby elephant cries after being attacked by his own mother

From the New York Daily News. (Printable version linked)


Little Zhuangzhuang, a newborn elephant at a wildlife refuge in China, was inconsolable after his mother rejected him and then tried to stomp him to death.

Tears streamed down his gray trunk for five hours as zookeepers struggled to comfort the baby elephant.

They initially thought it was an accident when the mom stepped on him after giving birth, according to the Central European News agency.

Employees removed him, cleaned him up and treated his injuries, then reunited the baby with his momma.

But she was having none of it, and began stomping him again.

So the game keepers stepped in once more and permanently separated the two.

“We don’t know why the mother turned on her calf but we couldn’t take a chance,” an employee told CEN.

“The calf was very upset and he was crying for five hours before he could be consoled,” he said.

“He couldn’t bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him.”

The petite pachyderm, born in August, is now doing well. The zookeeper who rescued him from his violent mother adopted him and helped him thrive at the Shendiaoshan wild animal reserve in Rong-cheng, China.

I found another photo of the baby elephant here:

Baby elephant's birthday is supposed to be happy
A baby elephant’s birthday is supposed to be happy

And Sun News added this:

Elephants rejecting their young is not uncommon, either in captivity or in the wild. In 2004, baby elephant Keemaya died at the Calgary Zoo after its mother refused to care for it.

I guess a lot of my views on ethics are rooted in the obvious needs that children have. When I look at an unborn baby, I can tell what it needs. So, I am careful not to cause a pregnancy before I can supply its needs. The needs of the little unborn creature are driving these moral boundaries on me. And the same with born children. I oppose gay marriage because when I look at little children, I want them to have a stable environment to grow up in with a mother and father who are biologically related to them (in the best case). I permit lots of arrangements, but I promote one arrangement over the others because that’s what’s best for children. Anyone can look at unborn and born children and see that, just like anyone can look at a crying baby elephant and understand – “I have to govern my behavior so that I don’t hurt you”. If that means cutting off the premarital sex and making decisions that are likely to produce a stable marriage, then that’s what we should do.

Children cry too, you know. They cry when we hurt them. They cry when we make bad decisions and when we don’t provide them with what they need. Children need mothers and fathers who care about them. Making a safe environment for a child isn’t an accident. It isn’t random and unpredictable. We have to control our desires before we have children, so that we provide children with what they need. It would be nice if men and women were more thoughtful and unselfish about children and marriage before they started in with sex.

New study: parents of four or more kids are happiest

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

When I was planning out my life, I did some research on how many kids I wanted to have. I love to plan and budget things out way in advance, because even if things don’t go as planned, the planning phase helps you to improvise. According to my research, four was the right number. Of course, you can never be sure how many you’ll get, but it doesn’t hurt to make a budget for the number of kids you want and a plan to make them.

Anyway, here’s a new study that says that four or more makes parents the most happy. Now, happiness may not be the goal of a relationship, but it definitely helps the spouses to apply themselves to the real goal of serving God. You can’t get miserable people to achieve anything for God, and you have to be serious about what people need to engage.

Anyway, The Daily Signal reports:

The happiest parents are—drumroll, please—parents with four or more kids.

Parents of large families were found to have the most life satisfaction, according to a study by Australia’s Edith Cowan University. Dr. Bronwyn Harman, of the psychology and social science school at the university, spent five years studying what types of families are most content.

“[The parents] usually say they always wanted a large family, it was planned that way, and it was a lifestyle they’d chosen,” Harman told The Sydney Morning Herald.

During her five-year study, Harman interviewed hundreds of parents from different family makeups. Her findings are based on resilience, social support, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.

Her research points out that parental happiness relates to how much effort has been put into growing the family.

“What is important for kids are things like consistency, boundaries and [to] know that they are loved, no matter what,” Harman tells ABC Australia.

Prior to the study, Harman thought parents with more children would be less happy.

Though larger families may have more chaos and expenses than a smaller family, Harman’s research shows that these issues are balanced by the amount of joy received from having more children.

Her findings show that children who grow up in large families learn independence at a young age and always have someone to play with.

I often get a lot of flak from single women who want to delay marriage, and/or not have so many children. Although many of the “rules” I have about where relationships should be headed seem arbitrary, there is actually data to back it up. I’m not trying to rush into marriage and four children for no reason, but because this is what makes people happiest in the long run. It makes for a better environment for achieving other things for God. I never do anything or ask others for anything without some evidence to back it up.

I think people tend to worry a lot about having kids, and that’s because having kids is expensive. But that can easily be planned out if you earn and save to prepare. My plan was to raise the kids in the country and have a capable homeschooling mom teach them and build their resumes up. Having lots of kids is not a problem if you take care of the money requirement, and don’t let them be spoiled all the time. Sometimes, they will just have to be patient and do things on their own and not be the center of attention. That’s probably good for them in any case.