Too much religion harms people, so don’t teach your children about Christianity until they are old enough to choose for themselves. Too much food makes people fat, so don’t feed your children until they are old enough to choose what they like for themselves. Isn’t this the most pernicious piffle? Consider:

  • Tom Daley made an impact in European diving competitions when he was 9 years old. A 13 year old climbs Mount Everest. A 16 year old climbs some of highest peaks in the world. What are those parents doing?
  • A child of three has been found vandalising cars in a street near his home. Primary school children make teacher’s life hell. Jamie Oliver says the UK is not doing enough to tackle the current child obesity ‘epidemic’. What are those parents doing?
  • Love-licence-laxity. Discipline-structure-encouragement. Mothering-smothering-oppressing.
  • How can a young bird fly if it’s kept in the nest? How can it deal with falling? How can our immune systems learn to cope with microbes if we are always scrubbed clean? Let them eat dirt.
  • Jesus’ ministry was about enabling people to take charge of their lives, not controlling them. ‘Be who God intended you to be and you will set the world on fire’ St Catherine of Siena. 

A government minister has suggested that people should not have more children than they can afford. Immediate outcry: people have the right to do what they like. Does any of us have any rights at all? If we do, at whose expense? Individual or society? Some animal societies police themselves by getting rid of antisocial elements. This is seen in apes (we are apes, remember), fish, insects. Look at ants for a model of society where each member knows its place. What makes us specifically human? I see plenty of Our Lord’s teaching that commands us to help the poor and needy, but nothing that commands us to indulge antisocial behaviour or encourages anyone to idleness. Rather the opposite: we are to take responsibility for ourselves in order to help those who ask for it, or who obviously need it. From each according to ability to each according to need. What implications does this have for a welfare state?

Twelve ways to raise a crook (written in 1969 by a former Vicar of Chesterfield)

  1. Begin from infancy to give the child everything he wants. This way, he will grow up to believe that the world owes him a living.
  2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. It will encourage him to pick up ‘cuter’ phrases that will blow the top of your head later.
  3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and then let him decide for himself.
  4. Avoid the use of the word ‘wrong.’ It may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later when he is arrested for stealing a car that society is against him and he is being persecuted.
  5. Pick up anything he leaves lying around – books, shoes, clothing. Do everything for him so he will be experienced in throwing the responsibility onto others.
  6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feed on garbage.
  7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of the children. Then they won’t be too shocked when the home is broken up.
  8. Give the child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as you had them?
  9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that every desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustrations.
  10. Take his part against the neighbours, teachers, and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.
  11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize for yourselves by saying ‘I never could do anything with him.’
  12. Prepare for a life of grief – you will have it.

Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

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