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First of all, a big shout-out and "Thank you!" to Bookworm at Bookwormroom.com for her lavish praise about my last post. I'm still blushing. I guess the inspiration for it came from having lived most my life, like Bookworm, in a place where people are overwhelmingly politically liberal. For all their talk about caring about others, when one tries to (non-politically) bring up a topic where someone has been done an injustice (because you'd think, "hey, those caring liberals"), the response is usually a pat, "Well, sucks to be them" or "I'm glad it's not me!", which pretty much ends the conversation.

But here's the real post: :)

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About an hour after lunch the other day, I went into the kitchen to fix myself some tea, and Asher followed me, wanting a treat.

Now, he had eaten really well at lunch, saving no room for a treat right after lunch, so I had no problem giving him a treat at this point.

Tabitha, seeing this, asked me, "Mommy, can I have some candy like Asher?"

I replied, "No. He didn't have his treat right after lunch, so he's having it now. You had Sweet Tarts."

She interrupted me, "No, not Sweet Tarts. Bottle caps. And I didn't have any bottle caps."

At this point, I really wanted to laugh, but it took some doing to calm her down and to explain again why she wasn't getting a piece of candy at this point in the day. Children, by nature, are self-centered. It's a part of self-preservation. As children get older, though, it's the responsibility of the parents to teach children a code of morality, at the very least. However, at her age, she still basically understands right and wrong as "this is a yes-yes" and "this is a no-no" in the sense of things that she is or is not allowed to do. When it comes to things like answering my question about whether she already had candy, she understands that how she answers will bring about one of two results - a "good" result and a "bad" result. By saying she has not had candy, she is hoping for the "good" result. At her age, I don't even think it's quite fair to call it lying.

During the first Presidential debate in 2012, Mitt Romney made a hard-hitting point that just because somebody repeats something over and over again, as children do, it doesn't make it true. Yet it seems like there are more and more adults that have never lost that self-centeredness, and have never learned the morality in the difference between a right and a wrong answer, and answers which they hope will produce a "good" outcome or a "bad" outcome. My opinion is that this is probably why we have so many shameless pathological liars these days - and the sad thing is that they're probably not even aware anymore of what the truth is. (Could this also be called "result-oriented approach"?)
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Sofia the First is a brand-new show from Disney, which debuted Thanksgiving weekend, and has begun a weekly run. From an adult point of view, everything about it screams formulaic Disney - Sofia is a little girl who has lived a normal life until her mother marries the king, and now she has to deal with learning about being a princess while dealing with her step-siblings, talking animals, magic jewelry, big poufy dresses. Of course, Tabitha loves it.

On a recent episode, Sofia, along with her step-sister, are going to have a sleepover. Of course, the step-sister invites other princesses, but Sofia invites a couple of her commoner friends. Conflict ensues as Sofia's friends, instead of trying to be more like the princesses, run rambunctiously around, roll their hair up in pine cones... . Finally, after Sofia begs them to behave themselves for the ball, they walk out because they are "bored". Sofia has to run out after them, and apologizes. The moral of the story, of course, is "you can't change who you are" and that everybody should be accepting of everybody else.

I, on the other hand, saw it a different way. Even though nothing the girls did was terrible, being invited to a sleepover in a castle, one ought to have expected that they would have been on their best behavior, which they obviously were not. Sofia's pleas to them to act better fall on deaf ears, and when they partially comply, at the ball, regardless of the fact that Sofia is finally a little happier, they leave because they don't like being "bored". That hardly seems like the actions of true friends. To make matters worse, after Sofia begs them back, the princesses come back and want to do the crazy things too because they are also "bored".

Every one of us is created to be unique, and there is value to learning to love and respect people for the people they are. However, this philosophy has been twisted by many to make it seem that what people do cannot be helped because of the people that they are. Therefore, in this case, the girls cannot be expected to behave better because they are commoners, and the better behavior would be a betrayal of the girls' "self". (And who wants to be mistaken for stuck-up rich people?) As such, we cannot make any judgement on the girls' behavior, because their behavior is a function of who they are, and not to like the behavior is not to like them. And so, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" is not at all possible in this situation.

These are the messages that are being broadcast to the littlest sets of eyes and to the youngest minds, and this sort of messaging is effective. I'm not saying that this alone would have me forbid Tabitha from watching it again, but even at three, recognize what this message is, and know to rebut the show as we're watching. As a matter of course, I talk to her about lots of things, including what is expected behavior in places. I know she understands, too, because just the other day she started talking to me about the things she can do in church. This isn't to limit her "fun" or "who she is" but to teach her to walk in the ways of a more fulfilling life.

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September 2013

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