Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Teaching Children to Cheat

(AWANA "What You Want to be When You Grow Up" Night)

When Elena and Chloe were younger, we put them in AWANA because we wanted them to memorize scripture and have fun doing it. After the adoption, Isaac and Maya joined them. Every morning during our Bible time, we would review their memory verses. I only did 1 at a time because I wanted them to really learn the verses well. My goal wasn't to see how fast they could fly through the books, but how many verses they could commit to memory.
One of the teachers took a liking to Isaac, whose English was pretty stilted back then. He understood a lot and was great at memorizing, but he had an itty bitty vocabulary for his age. (He had only been in America for a few months at that point.)
This teacher decided to do Isaac a favor and help him earn "jewels in his crown" whether he'd really learned the verse or not. He said: Repeat the verse after me and I'll sign for it.
Kyle and I talked to Isaac about it, but I was irate with the teacher. The following week, I talked to the director.
This happened three more times during the year. Each time, we talked to the leader about it, explaining that he was not modeling integrity for our son, and not helping him to "hide God's word in his heart" (our whole goal of joining AWANA).

Although we wanted Isaac to understand that he shouldn't give in to adults who try to get them to do wrong, it was really too much pressure to put on a young child.

We eventually quit AWANA.


Here to Serve Him... said...

Are you saying you quit AWANA or you quit pressuring him about adults trying to get him to do wrong? I'm not asking this in sarcasm but with a wondering heart as we are working through some of those "too much pressure for the age" situations. There's a fine line of how to handle times and seasons such as these in a child's life...a fine line we are seeking the Lord to find and define.


Ginger said...

We quit AWANA. I'll go make that more clear.

Ginger said...

We based our decision on his maturity level at the time.

heartchild said...

Our kids love AWANA but we had issues early on. My little Liberians had such a hard time memorizing and the leaders would call us and say we needed to be working with them more, etc, etc. I wanted to scream sometimes. We just wanted them to learn to love the Lord, get some scripture and learn English! We finally quit that program for a few years. We joined a new one last year and so far so good. It's a completely different atmosphere. I want scripture to be written on their hearts instead of tally marks.

nana said...

Sweet Ginger,
You are a profound mother, teacher of the Word and have amazingly obedient, fun-loving children. I'm always so impressed how you and Kyle lovingly instruct your children. I do hope you give AWANA a second chance. The children are so much more mature now.

Ginger said...

Nana, I don't understand why you'd want us to go back to AWANA. Help me understand. They don't focus on "hiding God's Word in your heart", but instead of getting the plastic jewels and crowns. Why would that be beneficial?
We do scripture memory as a family without the false rewards and pressure to lie and cheat. Don't you think that's better for the kids?

Sally said...

That's terrible that the teacher did that! Good for you for deciding to quit. So many parents would just put up with it.
And you're right; better that they learn it at home with you where there's no pressure to cheat.

Midlife Army Wife said...

Just curious, why not just try a different group with a different teacher instead of assuming all are bad because of the actions of one? I can't tell if you are against any rewards earned for learning scripture or just the deception and cheating? I don't see anything wring with rewarding the effort and encouraging them to try, especially when very young.

Ginger said...

I'm sorry; I didn't communicate very well. There was more to it; this was just the most glaring reason. There was also the time the leader asked all the kids to raise their hand if they had a boyfriend/girlfriend. Our kids came home asking why in the world the teacher would ask that.
We didn't feel the need to try a different group b/c we started doing the scripture memory at home, so we didn't need it. AWANA gave me scripture to work on w/ the kids. It was my accountability. Now, our church does a memory verse every week that we all learn and recite after praise & worship on Sunday.
We were also convicted about having somebody else's parents discipling our children. One week they came home saying that 4 kids got saved that night. I said: What do you mean they got saved?
Response: They went down and prayed a prayer and the man said they're saved.
We had a long talk with the kids about who saves (God, not us) and that the man shouldn't have announced them saved when he hadn't seen any fruit of repentance whatsoever. He couldn't have. They had only that night "prayed a prayer".
That made us ask ourselves: What else are they teaching our kids that we aren't hearing about?
So, we made the decision not to hand our kids over to other people to disciple our most precious blessings. That's our job. (Deut. 6:6-9)

Kelly said...

Are you saying that if you ask Christ into your heart and then die immediately that you aren't saved because you didn't have time to prove it by fruit? Believe it or not fruit takes time but a heart change is immediate. I'm reminded of the man that was crucified with Jesus and Jesus said to him "today I will see you in paradise". Where was his fruit? He died shortly after.

Ginger said...

God is sovereign. He told the man on the cross that he would be in paradise. I believe Him.
He also said:
Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matt 3:8; Luke 3:8)
Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matt 3:10, 7:19; John 15:2)
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
(Matt. 7:17-19; Luke 6:43)
As for the seed in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit. (Luke 8:15)
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.(John 15:8)
See also Romans 7:4-5, Colossians 1:6,10; and 1 John)

This was hard for me too. I thought we just had to pray a prayer, accept Jesus and we were saved. But God's Word is so clear. It is God who does the saving. There will nothing we can boast about on judgment day. If it was us, by our deeds, that save us, we could brag that we chose salvation.

I hope you will be blessed as you search out the scripture. Kyle certainly was. He became a true convert through the study. :D
(He had "accepted Jesus into his heart" when he was a child. But his heart never changed. He bore no fruit of repentance, until last year when God saved him and changed his heart. All glory to God!)

Here to Serve Him... said...


I love your openness, honesty and realness in this post and the comments following. I completely appreciated your concept of, "He had "accepted Jesus into his heart" when he was a child. But his heart never changed." The reality of this whole discussions is, do we as adult Christians view salvation in this light? Have our hearts truly "changed"? I feel like what you have done here is established a good basis of what "true salvation" looks like in the life of a newly born again believer.

My husband Kyle and I see things so much differently than many others that we worship and fellowship with however we know that the Lord sees the motives and desires of our hearts so even though those we are around may not understand, the One who really matters does. We have to make the decisions based on what is BEST and RIGHT for our individual children, not what is acceptable to others!