Newsflash: Everyone Indoctrinates Their Children

The question is what we indoctrinate them with ... and who we allow to indoctrinate our kids.

By Anna Pepperling Published on October 2, 2022

If you think about it, everyone indoctrinates their children. The experts tell us not to “impose our values,” but to let our children “explore” and “grow” and “discover who they are.” They tell us to encourage our children to “find their own truth.” But even the experts teach their children — “indoctrinate” them — with an idea of what the world is like and what is right and what is wrong.

The question is not whether we will indoctrinate them. Everyone does that, including the experts. No matter what parents do, they’re always teaching something. A friend shared with me a quote from G. K. Chesterton about this. He said: “It is not the things you say which children respect. When you say things, they very commonly laugh and do the opposite. It is the things you assume that really sink into them. It is the things you forget even to teach that they learn.”

The experts indoctrinate their children. What do they teach them when they let them “find their own truth”? They teach them that there is no truth, nothing that’s true for everyone, and truth is whatever they want it to be.

So everyone “indoctrinates” their children. The question is with what will we indoctrinate them? And who will we allow to indoctrinate them?

Who and With What?

I’m writing mainly to homeschoolers here. If we answer the second question “us,” we still have to answer the first question. If we decide to homeschool, it’s imperative that we homeschool with the right materials that not only impart truth, but also expose them to falsehoods that as parents scare us, but are necessary to know (introduced at age-appropriate times, of course). The second is almost as important as the first.

I came out of childhood a bit crippled, because, being raised in a Christian school my entire life, I was taught truth, but not enough falsehood. The fear was that if children are exposed to falsehoods, a child will naturally run to what is false rather than what is true. Turns out, every child has that capacity, no matter who teaches him, no matter what is taught. That is where prayer and reliance on God comes in — He’s the only Savior in this world. 


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I would say 95% of the kids I grew up with either rejected the faith or really messed up their lives simply by rejecting the truths that were taught. I think some of that came from not having been taught the falsehoods and what happens to us when we believe them. They didn’t really know falsehood when they first saw it, when it’s the most attractive to us. (Granted, there were some major screw ups by those who raised and taught us. But ultimately, our decisions are our own, and we have to own them. Well, we will own them, whether now or later.)

I inadvertently passed too much of that truth/falsehood imbalance down to my own children, so I’m not speaking out of judgment, but out of my experience and mistakes. The lesson I’ve learned is: teach truth, and don’t be afraid to expose kids to the ugly gunk. 

But also be prepared to teach why we should run to one and not the other. Why one brings peace while the other brings darkness, heartache, and unfavorable consequences. Teach that one can choose his or her sin, but God chooses the consequence, and the chastening of the Lord is no joke. It will hurt.

Teach Wisdom

In essence, teach wisdom. That means looking at the truth and looking at the falsehoods. People wonder why there’s everything from murder to rape to war and adultery and family drama in the Bible. It reads like a soap opera at times! It’s there because that’s the story of humanity. 

And we can either be on the right or the wrong side of humanity’s history. That’s what kids need to be taught: that there’s right and here’s what right looks like. That there’s wrong, and here’s what that looks like. We all have a responsibility to choose wisely — or suffer the consequences.

As Proverbs says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”


Anna Pepperling is a pseudonym for a Rocky Mountain-based author who, in spite of chronic illnesses, is a wife, mother, grandmother of eight, caregiver, avid reader, and sidekick to Spurgeon, a lovable but needy black Lab. In her spare time, she sews, gardens, plays piano, and unashamedly slings her political views across social media.

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