Personal Responsibility: The Devil Isn’t Your Scapegoat and God Doesn’t Deserve Credit

Since I had been sick the last few weeks, I had been camped out on the couch and watching a lot of TV. Confession – I love reality shows. One particular show I was watching had cameras set up in the homes of three families at turning points in their lives, and of course, let the drama unfold.

One of the families had very devout Christian parents, and every time their kids misbehaved, they blamed it on the devil. Even the kids said it was the devil. The kids were young but I think they realized they had a very easy excuse.

This annoyed the crap out of my husband. My daughter was in the same room and my husband decided to have a talk about personal responsibility right then and there.

My husband told my daughter if she bullied someone at recess that that was on her. It’s not the devil and you have to take responsibility for it.

But my husband also acknowledged the flip side. My daughter is a talented artist, and he told her if she won an art contest, that’s all her. God does not deserve credit. She did that. 

Have you ever had a conversation like this with your kids?

She seemed to grasp what we were saying, but just a few minutes later, she was helping my husband carry some laundry up from the basement and she said it was heavy – like carrying the cross. Where the hell did that come from?

My husband thought she saw something on TikTok.

Here’s where I have a couple of questions. I’ve brought this up before – do you always supervise your children when they’re watching videos online? And how do you do that? My husband and I are not fans of censorship and we certainly don’t want our daughter to be sheltered or naive. 

When it comes to belief or nonbelief, we don’t want to push our daughter into anything. We just want her to ask questions and think for herself. Obviously, we don’t want others pushing her into anything either.

Maybe this is all easier said than done, especially considering we live in a conservative area. How have other parents approached this subject?

We have bought a couple of David McAfee books, but I’m afraid they still might be a little over her head. Do any other parents have experience with these books?

I apologize for the rambling. This post started out about personal responsibility but so much more came up the night we had the discussion with my daughter. I would love to hear from other parents/guardians/relatives – anyone taking care of littles. How have you dealt with these topics?


  1. xohjoh2n says

    I think it was probably a much less effective excuse when you could just set fire to people if you believed that.

  2. Katydid says

    That was disturbing that your daughter so naturally came out with the simile of the cross. To me, that speaks of the overwhelming Christianity being pushed on everyone, all the time, in your area. IMO, it was great of your husband to discuss accountability and not blaming everything on a scapegoat. History shows it’s too easy to go from scapegoating an imaginary boogie-man to scapegoating people.

    I have nothing of substance to offer. My kids grew up in a not-conservative area. There are conservative people here but they are not the majority. We had some problems in elementary school with some over-the-top Christianists who forbid any hint of Halloween…the spouse and I showed up every day to pick up our kids, wearing Halloween costumes. That started the tradition of other parents also wearing costumes in October. A group of us too big to ignore pushed back at posters advertising the local mega-church and requested secular songs (like Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells) in addition to the over-the-top Christian songs at the “winter concert”. But that was just that one school and that one parent.

    But when our kids were growing up, the internet connected through a modem into a shared desktop in the living room, and they didn’t get phones until they drove–and the “must-have” phone was just a 2G flip phone. It’s much harder now when elementary schoolers have a computer in their pockets.

  3. says

    …she was helping my husband carry some laundry up from the basement and she said it was heavy – like carrying the cross. Where the hell did that come from?

    Offhand, I’m guessing that’s standard children’s exaggerated self-pity, with or without intending to be humorous. It could just as easily have been any other heavy object she’d heard people mentioning.

  4. SailorStar says

    @RagingBee: Ashes was commenting on the imagery. A kid with no Christian messaging might whine, but not using religious imagery. A kid who’s surrounded by nonstop Christian brainwashing will use a Christian metaphor.

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