“People look at my family and think I’m like that,” said Joseph, their 14-year-old, as his parents walked through the street fair on Ninth Avenue, giving out Bibles. “I keep my friends as far away from them as possible.”
“I don’t really have any motivation to try to figure out what I want to do anymore,” he said, “because my main support line, my parents, don’t care.”But then, the parents have caused the kids a lot of anxiety about the future. The mom quit her job to free up time to spread the word. Not good, says the son.
“I don’t really have any motivation to try to figure out what I want to do anymore,” he said, “because my main support line, my parents, don’t care.”Fortunately, the kids see the humor in the situation too. They've used the big day as an excuse not to clean their rooms and do they're homework. But then they're old enough to think for themselves.
Younger kids are a lot more impressionable. If Mom and Dad say the rapture's on Saturday, they're very likely to believe the rapture's on Saturday. Which is ... what? Altogether bad?
How much personal ideology should parents pass on to their kids? It's tempting to make judgments based on one's own beliefs, instead of on principles that can be generalized. I find it disturbing that people take their kids hunting, but not disturbing that parents restrict their children to vegetarian diets. The imposition is the same, it's only the beliefs in question that differ. So ... what principle should we follow, when deciding whether or not to inculcate some outlook or behavior in children?
Joel Feinberg postulated a "right to an open future" in a well known, much quoted article. The idea is that kids should be raised in such a way that their ability to make their own choices, as adults, is preserved. That argues against sealing them in insular communities, without access to outside ideas and ways of life. The right to an open future is (you might argue) not honored by Hasidic and Amish parents, for example.
Ordinary religious education isn't so restrictive. The typical American kid has religious education on Sundays and mixes with people who have other beliefs the rest of the week. Whatever beliefs are inculcated can readily be shed later on. Even the rapturists are presumably not denying their young kids an open future by telling them tomorrow is judgment day. They'll be able to shed the belief later on, as long as they get to interact with the world at large.
Of course, there are other rights, besides the right to an open future. There's the right not to be scared half to death, for no real reason, and I imagine a lot of little kids are pretty nervous about tomorrow. There's also a right to prepare for next week and next year, and the rapturous parents aren't doing well in that area. But the sheer fact that they're teaching their kids about the rapture doesn't seem to violate their basic right to an open future.
So -- what's going to happen when the rapturists find out tomorrow's just another day? How will the face their kids? How will they recover from abandoning their jobs? Will they somehow insist the prediction came true, in some esoteric sense? This should be interesting!
Update 7:25 am, Dallas: Live-blogging the non-end of the world. Still here.
Update 11:31 am, Dallas: Things still look very normal.