Tuesday, June 18, 2013

WWBD--What would Batman do?

The other day, my 6-year-old was faced with a very important decision. Her little brother asked her for some help and she hesitated, because she was in the middle of something and didn't want to help him. I encouraged her to do it, giving the usual reasons. You know, when someone needs help, you should give it to them. In our family, we love each other, and that means helping each other. If you needed help from him, what would you want him to do? You get the picture. She chose to whine and complain that it wasn't fair and she was busy, blah, blah, blah.

And then, in my failure to convince her, for the first time ever, I employed the old, "What would Jesus do?" It was terribly effective. She knew immediately what she should do and she did it without further complaint.

For shame, huh? Manipulative? Disingenuous, given my agnostic leanings?

I don't think so, and here's why.

If my kid has to go the doctor and get a shot and he is terrified, is it manipulative of me to ask him, "What would Batman do if he had to get a shot?" Is it disingenuous, because I technically don't believe that Batman is a real person? I don't think so. But it IS effective. Batman has some good qualities, bravery and fearlessness among them. If my kid admires Batman, and Batman is a character worthy of emulation, why wouldn't I use that to help my kid make good choices?

Regardless of my opinions on the divine status of Jesus, I do find him to be a very admirable character. He is, at the very least, a symbol of everything good. After all, he IS perfect, at least according to the narrative. He is honest, kind, loving, gentle, charitable, generous, patient, forgiving, just, merciful, etc. He is everything we want our children to be. Even if he is only a literary character, the idea of him is something worth emulating.

My daughter gets tired of hearing me lecture about how she "should" behave. But this question, What would Jesus do? It kind of wraps up a lot of preachy teaching in one question. It's like asking, "What is the honest/kind/generous/merciful thing to do?" She knows what it means. She learns about this Jesus guy and she looks up to him. It's a simple, non-preachy way to get my message across without her turning her ears off.

On a similar note, I was recently at a park day gathering of Mormon homeschoolers (that's right, y'all, I homeschool!), and they were discussing an idea that I think is pretty smart. They were talking about noticing certain qualities in your children and relating them to scripture characters. For example, "Wow, you were really obedient, just like Nephi!" I think it's awesome. And it takes a little of the preachy preachy, yappy Mommy out of the picture. These good qualities are summed up in upstanding characters that our children admire. I say use them!

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