Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child

Chris —  April 23, 2013

If your goal is to destroy your children’s imaginations, the below list is a good place to begin. I would probably put television and video games higher on the list. Christian parents are especially tempted to use quality programs as baby-sitters. But even if the content of certain programs is moral or Christian, it still does the child’s thinking for him or her. So I would add to the list of ways to destroy your child’s imagination:

  • Buy an I-pad immediately. Never require your child to sit anywhere without access to it.
  • Buy all the Christian videos possible. You can have your child watch them while feeling good about yourself as a parent.
  • Put either a television or a computer (ideally both) in your child’s room.
  • Do not read Marie Winn’s book, The Plug-In Drug. She will remind you that the most insidious sort of drug is the one you give to someone else for your own benefit.

Per Justin Taylor, here is Trevor Cairney’s summary of Anthony Esolen’s Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child:

1. Begin by rearing children almost exclusively indoors – give in to the threats of the outdoors, don’t risk allowing them to have unbridled experiences out of our observable space. Lock them up in classes and organized instruction and avoid giving them opportunities to run free.

2. Never allow children to organize their own worlds of exploration of that which is interesting or challenging—replace the spontaneous and child initiated and replace it with 7 days of structured activities controlled by others and a timetable that leaves no scope for exploration, time wasting, and contemplation.

3. Don’t risk allowing children to explore machines or encounter those who know and use them—privilege safety above all things, cut craftsmen from the child’s world, despise practical and craft knowledge, forget about the challenge and fascination of maps, diagrams and the like.

4. Replace fairy tales with cliches and fads—water down stories to remove the evil and violent, look for tales that ‘flatten’ and homogenize, replace fundamental truths with cliches and ideological manifestos.

5. Denigrate or discard the heroic and patriotic—remove fathers who are heroes, men who are warriors, lose sight of the ‘piety’ of a place like the Welsh uplands and coal mines of Richard Llewellyn’s ‘How Green was My Valley.’ Ignore the dignity of simple people and their ways.

6. Cut down all heroes to size—don’t allow a sentimental admiration of a hero, dismiss courage, beat from our boys any hint of hero worship. Instead grow men ‘without chests’ who spend hours on violent video games but never rumble in the back yard.

7. Reduce all talk of love to narcissism and sex – replace the music and tenderness of love in the Odyssey, or the poetry of Stephen Foster for a lost love, with a reduction of love to the mechanics of sex, “reduce eros to the itch of lust or vanity.” Replace the first pangs of curiosity of a boy for a girl, or a girl for a boy, with a bombardment of images of what love isn’t.

8. Level all distinctions between man and woman—just as individual personalities are washed from our classrooms, so too, reduce all differences of gender, and convince children that boys and girls are just the same.

9. Distract the child with the shallow or unreal—fail to encourage the child to hear and sharpen the senses before creating, abolish solitude and silence, fill the child’s life with the ‘noise’ of television, video games and other forms of banality. Don’t just give decibels of noise but rather, more importantly, mental and spiritual interference. Separate the child from the relationship of family, neighbours and friends and place them in after school care, preschools etc.

10. Deny the transcendent—deny the idea of God, ignore the mystery of faith and religion, ensure that unlike the ancients in the caves of Lascaux there is little opportunity to contemplate and create a veritable cathedral born of their imaginings. Do everything possible to erase any opportunity for your child to search out the inscriptions of praise on each human heart.

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3 responses to Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child

  1. Thanks for the post, Rev. Brauns. I’ve seen in some of our friends a fear of exposing their kids to stories or movies with any danger or ‘scary’ elements. Not that we want to give our kids nightmares, but it seems to us like a great story where good triumphs over evil is a gateway to great truths – chiefly gospel truth! Maybe I’m most sensitive to it because of having boys, but I want them to be aware of the world in its brokenness so they are aware of it’s great need.

  2. Katie,

    Exactly! Stories are what we use to teach our children great truths.

    That is why I had some of this quote in Bound Together:

    This is exactly what fairy tales get across to the child in manifold form: that a struggle against severe difficulties in life is unavoidable, is an intrinsic part of human existence – – that that if one does not shy away, but steadfastly meets unexpected and often unjust hardships, one masters all obstacles and at the end emerges victorious. Modern stories written for young children mainly avoid these existential problems, although they are crucial for all of us . . . The fairy tale, by contrast, confronts the child squarely with the basic human predicaments. ~Bruno Bettelheim

  3. Can I just say, though, what a counter-cultural proposition this is. We recently drove a bunch of (very polite and good) teen boys to get ice cream. About 10 minutes into the trip, maybe I shouldn’t have, but I asked if they could put the games away. It was just driving me nuts, and I couldn’t stand the silence. I wanted them to interact! I wanted to get to know these kids! But the screens were stealing all interaction.

    They were great about it, and we had a really nice time. I think you should do a post about the battle of the tiny screen. It’s winning!

    By the way, have your kids read the Wingfeather series? Ken is reading them to our boys and they LOVE them. Lots of great hero characters. Even Lindsay is totally into them right now. But they all say you have to make it to the last couple of chapters of the first book before they start getting really good.