As a Christian parent, you want to train your children to love God—to obey Him, walking in His ways for His glory and for their own good.
So you and I teach our kids to do good and to flee evil. We model obedience to God. We correct them when they err. We discipline them so they don’t stray too far. And we do those things with the Word of God as our road map and the Holy Spirit as our guide.
But I’ve noticed something interesting over the past few years: when kids are trained this way from an early age, they can tend to become dogmatic, quick to judge others and not inclined to administer grace. They can become little Pharisees!
After all, there’s a fine line between being discerning and being judgmental. Between insight and condemnation. Finding the right side of that line is a challenge for adults. How much more so for kids whose brains are only just beginning to develop more advanced reasoning skills?
8 Attitudes to Cultivate For Non-Judgmental Kids
Here are some important character traits to help your kids cultivate, enabling them to see beyond their own black-and-white world:
Once our children have a firmly established biblical worldview, it’s important that we expose them to other views. If you believe Christianity can stand up to scrutiny (because it can), you’ll understand that your kids’ faith won’t be threatened by exposure to other ways of thinking.
After all, they’ll encounter them sooner or later, so it will work to their advantage to have a solid foundation from you before they hear it elsewhere.
Our culture is sorely lacking a basic understanding of the difference between facts and opinions. (Fake news, anyone?)
It’s good to learn facts, and it’s good to develop opinions, but it’s bad to confuse the two. The more we learn, the more we ought to become aware of the vastness of all we still don’t know.
That’s why we must hold our opinions loosely. Consider how your own opinions on various issues have changed over time (in theology or politics, for example), and share this with your child to help them understand that opinions shouldn’t be clutched too tightly.
Thinking logically is a critical skill for kids to hone.
If possible, consider enrolling them in a debate club or a logical thinking course.
Another idea is to have them write an essay in support of a perspective they disagree with. My daughter recently wrote a paper like this, and while she didn’t necessarily enjoy it, she admitted recognizing the value of learning more about a different viewpoint.
Encourage your kids to see things from multiple points of view. Everyone has a history, invisible baggage we carry around with us that impacts the way we view the world. It can be challenging to put ourselves in the shoes of someone with completely different life experiences than we’ve had.
But sometimes, just admitting how hard it is can go a long way toward validating a different perspective.
Christians are recipients of lavish buckets full of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), yet too often we dole out grace to others with a stingy teaspoon.
We’re wise to model what it’s like to give others the benefit of the doubt, to stop being so easily offended.
Most of all, we must look for common ground, especially with Christian brothers and sisters. There is far more that unites us than what divides us.
Encourage your kids to consider what biases color their perspective. Point out the potential blind spots to their way of thinking. Here’s how Martin Luther put it:
If thou art wise thou knowest thine own ignorance; and thou art ignorant if thou knowest not thyself.
7. Intellectual honesty
This includes the importance of applying principles universally, even when it’s uncomfortable to do so. Another aspect of intellectual honesty is affirming valid points made by someone you might otherwise disagree with.
When we don’t hold our opinions too tightly, we’re free to be more subjective and can more clearly see both the strengths and weaknesses of other perspectives and our own.
While the Bible gives us guiding principles pertinent to every area of life, the application of those principles are often a matter of conscience. Not every ethical matter is dictated as clearly as “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not” in Scripture.
Godly, well-intentioned people can have different opinions on many issues; our job is to give one another the benefit of the doubt and trust that the Holy Spirit is guiding each of us toward our individual best path to godliness.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you noticed that your Christian kids can be judgmental? Which of these attitudes will you start to cultivate today?