Recently, a friend lent me a nice book entitled Books the Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Children Moral Values Through Stories. While it provided an overall great book list as a resource (personally, I’m not a huge fan of Maurice Sendak), I felt somewhat sad that the world the author was writing for didn’t quite exist anymore. While I know “there is nothing new under the sun,” it seems like things have changed greatly since the book was originally published in 1994. I wish the world was even as simple as it was for me growing up in the 90s.
It seems that my son’s generation (he is now 3) will have far more temptations surrounding it. From opportunities for literal transhumanism experiences to all kinds of gender bending wierdness all going against God’s created order. I feel there is a strong need in the very early toddler stage before a child can even read to simply create a love of God’s created order and God’s created things: people, forests, trees, animals, general peacefulness, and even educational books that reinforce the order of language, numbers and basic science. And of course Saint’s lives written for children. After all, when they are alone in their room, they are only left with a memory of the story and the pictures by which to tell their own.
It’s not necessarily that I see my own son at huge risk for these things (who does see their own child that way) but I want him to be actually saddened by how things are in today’s world and how they affect those around him and even grieve The Heavenly Kingdom. I wonder if his generation carrying the last, or nearly the last flag of Christianity will feel their hearts in a perpetual Lent – living life in a beautiful melancholy.
I realize since the issue of transhumanism and everything else is so new, there is no “time tested” method to deal with these temptations other than trying as hard as possible to live the traditional Orthodox Christian life. Father Seraphim Rose says that even if we try our hardest, however, our neighbor is not…no matter how we try to protect our children from “modernism” we can’t. These days I have seen children watching videos on their ipads in even the mostly unlikely places.
It would seem that since the “world outside” is trying to bombard us with messages to confuse us and won’t even reflect, let alone reinforce, God’s order anymore – I may have to work harder as a parent at this. It is probably more important to reinforce gender identity, the traditional family, and love of God’s creation through early literature, when this was probably something taken for granted by previous generations. In other words, I don’t read books about robots to my son, but prefer to read books that have something beautiful and human in them. (For example, today we picked up some books from the library including one about a family that moves from the city and builds a house in the country with the help of family and friends, and another about a family that runs a small farm.) I know there are probably books about robots that are “moral” and “cute” but there are too many reasons to not read the robot book for me. Among all the other agendas, there is indeed a transhumanism agenda as well. When my son learns about robots, I want him to learn the whole story about them in an age appropriate way…so no “cute” robots for us for now. The agenda is pretty evident is most modern media, so if you don’t already notice it, these links probably won’t help much, but just in case:
Our Transhuman Kids – this article is actually against transhumanism
I lived the first almost 7 years of my life without computers…and while I can’t tangibly remember the freedom that gave my soul, somehow I can feel the change and how technology has grown and grown and could completely drown my soul if I let it. Someday my son will be on his own and making his own decisions. I want him to feel the ache in his heart like I do. I want him to long for simpler and more beautiful times after he finds himself making mistakes.
But someday soon I will tell my son as much as I can for his age, and keep telling him more as he grows. It will be an “Orthodox Survival Course” for children until he is ready for the real thing and to start his own Orthodox Christian reading. But for now, I just tell him “I wish I could tell you more, but for now all I can say, ‘the hour is very late’.”