TLP 126: How to Rear a Hateful Kid
Hate. Racism. Murder. Rape. War. Violence. Abuse. Where does it come from? How can you help your child grow in love and grace instead of hate and pain? Join AMBrewster as discusses hate, its origin, and what Christian parents can do about it.
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I know, I know, the title of today’s episode seems ridiculous.
Hopefully, no one tuned in because they’re genuinely interested in rearing a hateful child.
But the problem is too often the rest of us actually allow or encourage our children to do things now that later in life will blossom into wickedness.
This world has experienced hatred in every form from the very first people choosing to rebel against God to the very first child murdering his younger brother, to the violence and wickedness of Noah’s day, right up until this moment.
All over the world hateful, wicked, horrible atrocities are taking place as I speak.
And here’s the thing, each of the people perpetrating evil in this world started out as a cute, little infant.
Every rapist and murderer and thug and racist and thief and dictator and zealot was born as a helpless, “innocent” baby. I always wanted to do a workshop where I show videos clips of happy babies playing and laughing and smiling. And next to each child I would show their name and their future occupation. Anja might be a computer programmer and Ethan would be teacher. Next to Logan’s face would be the word preacher, and Isaac and Olivia would be doctors. But then the video would continue and here and there — mingled with the noble professions — I would show a video of an equally cute baby, but this baby would grow up to be a rapist. The next would be an industrial thief. Some would be hackers, scam artists, murders, and liars.
My point is, that video would be uncomfortable to watch, and many of us would feel like saying, “That’s terrible. That would never happen.”
And yet, somehow it does happen every day. Beautiful little children grow up and embrace hate.
Today begins a study that will last from now until the end of February. It’s not a series, per se. Within this larger study I do plan to do a series called “The Four Family Loves,” but all of the other episodes will have love as their theme.
And that includes today’s episode and Friday’s which is called “The Fight Culture | why children today are so violent and what we can do about it.”
The reason I chose to start our love study with a discussion on hate is I don’t think we can truly appreciate love until we understand its opposite and acknowledge from where it comes.
So let’s dive right in.
Let’s start by defining hate, discuss from where it comes, and then talk about ways we as parents can help our children not grow to hate God and their fellow man.
1. What is Hate?
Simply, hate is the opposite of love. But, since many of us don’t yet know how the Bible defines love, that definition isn’t very helpful.
Merriam Webster defines hate as “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury” and “b : extreme dislike or disgust.”
That sounds about right.
But we need to ask the question, is hate a good thing or a bad thing. Well, within the context of today’s discussion, hate is definitely a bad thing because the object of the hate about which we’re talking is something that God commands us to love — namely, other people and God Himself.
But generally speaking, hate is not bad. Episode 23 was called, “What Does God Think about Your Kid’s Music?” but it was reworked from an article I wrote called “5 Things God Hates about Your Music.”
The Bible uses the word “hate” quite often, and many of those instances refer to God’s hatred. Psalm 5:5, referring to God, reads, “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.”
It’s completely appropriate to hate something wicked. But since that’s not the topic of today’s discussion, I’m going to have to leave that right there.
For now, though, know that the hate we’re talking about today is the hatred that leads men to murder and hurt and persecute. It’s also the hate that leads someone to despise a person simply because of the color of their skin.
What makes the hate sinful is that it’s directed at something we’ve been commanded to love.
So, hate is intense hostility and aversion and/or extreme dislike or disgust for someone.
We know it exists in the world, but from where does it come?
2. What is Hate’s Origin?
Most of us would assume that racists had racist parents. But do we also assume that murderers had murdering parents?
No doubt, many children are taught by their parents to hate and harm. Perhaps they’re even taught how to hate and harm. We know that Muslim terrorists train their children to hate infidels and teach them how to kill people. I’m sure we all assume that white supremacists do the same.
But does that account for all the hatred in the world? Of course not.
So, we must assume that these adorable children are taught by someone else how to hate. Perhaps the KKK, terrorists, rapists, and murderers somehow got to everyone and trained them to hate.
My friends, it’s far easier than that.
Your children never have to meet a racist to become one.
There are two concepts I want to explore as we ask, “What is Hate’s Origin?” First, I want to look at the origin itself, and second I want to discuss how we parents often — inadvertently — encourage hate in our children.
First, let’s talk origin, and the origin is simple . . . it’s called sin. It’s the reason we need a Savior, it’s the cause of every ill in the history of our planet. Sin is everything that does not conform to God’s character.
If you’re astute, than you probably realize that means we’re all in trouble, because even if we exhibit some of the communicable attributes of God, we don’t do it perfectly in quality or quantity. That’s means that much of our “good” might possibly be sinful.
And every beautiful, precious, tiny baby was born a sinner. In Psalm 51:5 David tells us, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
The corrupting nature of sin has passed down from Adam to all of His seed. We can’t escape it.
But I think it’s important to realize that fundamentally, sin is an act of worship. Righteousness is a consequence of worshipping God. You cannot truly do right without worshipping God. And when I say worship, I’m not talking about services and candles and programs. Worship is simply showing how much we value something. When I choose to obey God regardless of how it will affect me, I’m showing that He’s more valuable than I.
However, when I choose to disobey Him, when I choose to sin, I’m still worshipping. In that moment, I’m showing that I’m more important that God. My way and opinion has more value than His. In that moment, I’m worshipping myself.
So, sin is the result of an act of self-worship. At its very core, sin is hate.
I hate God, so I do things my own way. I’m willing to call Him a liar, transgress His law, rebel against His love, and do things my own way. I’m choosing to love myself and hate God.
If we go back to our dictionary definition, I’m averse to God’s will for my life, or I dislike His commands and authority.
This means that because every child is born a sinner, every child is born with the capacity — nay, the predisposition — to hate.
I’ve mentioned this before on the show. Episodes 37 - 44 dip into this from time to time. I know it’s uncomfortable, but there is no such thing as ambivalence in relationships. We either love the person or we hate them. Now, that hatred doesn’t always reveal itself by murder and abuse, but it’s there nonetheless, and our ignorance of that fact is part of the reason our children grow up to hate.
Every time a child throws a tantrum, they are choosing to love themselves and hate their parents. Our children steal because they love themselves more than the person from whom they’re stealing. In that moment, they hated that person because they sinned against them.
Please, friends, understand that your children have hatred knotted up in their souls. We all do. It’s called “sin.”
So, here’s the problem. Your three year old isn’t a murderer. Your twelve year old isn’t a racist. Your eight year old isn’t a rapist. But despite that, they may one day become one.
Here’s why: hatred and sin devolve. Romans 1 shows us how our sinful machinations devolve from one state of delusion to another. But the core issue is still the same.
Murderers murder because they hate and they want control. But children hit their sibling for taking their favorite toy because they hate and want control too.
So, let’s follow a fictional child through his life. This child was born to Christian parents. He has foolishness and pride and hate bound up in his sinful heart. By God’s grace, though, he doesn’t exhibit the full extent of that sin. Common grace is what keeps us from being as bad as we could be.
So, this little boy grows and exhibits all the hateful tendencies we’d expect from an infant, and he receives the appropriate consequences.
As he gets older and more refined, and since he has not yet been born again by submitting to Christ, this boy still has the same predisposition to self-worship. In fact, that’s all he can worship. Despite what he may say in Sunday School, practically he is his only god.
So, as he becomes more refined, his acts of hatred are more subtle and culturally acceptable. He spits out the casual “joking” comment to get a jab in at his sister. He sneaks food from the pantry. He cheats from time to time at school. He disrespects his parents, but not enough to really get him in trouble. He tattles on his older brother. He slacks off in his chores.
Now, if you’re catching yourself wanting to say, “Aaron, that’s not hate,” then you’re probably feeling what his parents felt.
“All kids act like this. They go through phases. He’s just exercising his personality. He’ll change one day.”
But this boy still doesn’t submit to Christ because he’s enjoying his own puny god. And all the while, every decision (good or bad) is being made for self. Anyone that gets in his way is met with retaliation of one kind or another. Sometimes that retaliation is tacit and hidden. He clams up with a sense of self-preservation. He doesn’t lash out not because he actually loves his parents, he doesn’t lash out because it would make life more difficult for him.
This boy has laid the perfect groundwork for any and all forms of hatred.
Who wouldn’t he take a toy and hit his brother? Why wouldn’t he throw a tantrum? Why wouldn’t he kick mom as she’s trying to correct him? Why wouldn’t he say unkind things? Why wouldn’t he lie? Why wouldn’t he steal? Why wouldn’t he vandalize? Why wouldn’t he punch someone who’s annoying him? Why wouldn’t he get revenge? Why wouldn’t he start seeing a certain people group as the source of all the trouble in his life? Why wouldn’t he take advantage of some girl? Why wouldn’t he remove someone who’s gotten in his way?
Racism is merely calloused hate. Murder is desensitized hate. And the more often we hate the easier it is to become calloused and desensitized to the affects and consequences of our hate.
Do you want to train your children how to hate?
Well, first, you don’t have to. They do that just fine without your help. And without the intervening of the Holy Spirit, they will continue to excel in hate.
But if we’re not careful, we will help our children excel in that hate.
Alright, let’s get off this super depressing train and ask the final question:
3. What can Parents Do?
The only thing stopping my children from becoming racists is the grace of God, submission to the Truth of God, through the power of God.
John Bradford is credited with saying, "There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford.” Many people have changed the quote ever so slightly to say, "There but for the grace of God go I.”
So, how do we parent our children with the grace of God, teaching them to submit to God through the power of God?
Well, that truly is the overarching goal and purpose of this show. If I started naming all the episodes that partially answer that question, I’d name most of them. However, I only want to focus in on three. Episodes 26 and 27 are called “The 5th Way to Parent | the only parenting style that glorifies God.” And episode 123 is called “Parenting like the Holy Spirit.”
Again, most of our episodes are consumed with parenting in Truth and love. And that means parenting with God’s grace, in His Truth, and by His power.
But I can sum it up like this. We need to have high biblical expectations for our children. We cannot afford to forget that they’re sinners. We mustn’t neglect to introduce them to Christ. Remember what we saw earlier, a true believer cannot consistently hate anyone. Love is a fruit of the Spirit, and though we’re not perfect, no genuine Christian could possibly be a racist. Also, we should never ignore our children’s sin due to an incorrect understanding of the nature of sin, laziness, or rebellion on our own part. We need to live a life that exemplifies God’s love — especially when people get in our way. And we need to teach them the Truths of Scripture.
Now, please understand that I’m not saying if you do those five things your child will never hate anyone ever again. No, that’s parental determinism and that’s wrong.
But I am saying that at least you won’t be part of the problem. You won’t be the one rearing a hateful child.
I encourage you to do two things: 1. Please share this episode. There is too much hate in this world, and we parents can have a massive effect on the problem if we just parented the way God parents. And 2. Please check out our episode notes. I’ve formatted them very simply, detailing — not how to rear a hateful child — but how to discourage sinful hate in our children.
Our next episode grows out of this one. When you look at our world, you see man’s hatred being worked out in physical violence.
Our next episode looks at The Fight Culture in America and tries to figure out from where it comes.
We’re going to spend some time in Psalm 2 and James 4.
But then we’re going to break off and look at the positive side of love. I’m really excited for that and hope you’re looking forward to joining us.
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If you have a hateful child and need some help, please don’t hesitate to write us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
You can also send emails to TeamTLP@TruthLoveParent.com to tell us how we’re doing, suggest a topic for a future show, or share some helpful criticisms.
It’s true we live in a world dominated by sin lived out in hate and motivated by self-worship. We’re all capable of becoming the worst versions of ourselves. But there is hope, and His name is Jesus.
See you next time.
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