Family Talk Night Light for Parents - Saturday, January 4, 2014

Imprinting

“Teach them to your children…so that your days and the days of your children may be many.” Deuteronomy 11:19–21

We recommended last night that you give extra attention to the spiritual training of your children at age five, when they are most open to your teaching. This idea may concern you. You might prefer that your child be allowed to decide for himself on matters of faith and God. We can respond to this concern with an illustration from nature. After a gosling hatches from his shell, he will become attached, or “imprinted,” to the first thing he sees moving near him—which is ordinarily mother goose. If mama goose is absent, however, any mobile substitute will do. In fact, a gosling will become imprinted easily to a blue football bladder dragged by on a string. A week later, he will fall in line behind the bladder as it scoots past. Time is the critical factor; the gosling is vulnerable to imprinting for only a few seconds after he hatches. If that opportunity is lost, it cannot be regained.

In a similar way, there is a brief period when children are most receptive to instruction about God and about right and wrong. When parents choose to withhold religious training from their small child, allowing him to “decide for himself,” they almost guarantee that he will “decide” in the negative. If you want your kids to enjoy a meaningful faith, you must give up any attempts at objectivity and instead “teach [these words of Mine] to your children” (Deuteronomy 11:19).

Before you say good night…

  • Are we holding back in the spiritual training of our kids? If so, why?
  • Can we harm our kids by withholding our instruction?

Dear God, thank You for the privilege of teaching our children about You. Let us make the most of the opportunities You give us, not allowing anything to come between our kids and an intimate relationship with You. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
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