I admit that I do not have all the insight into this issue but I thought I would address few things I have observed in the past on this topic – Injecting legalism in kids.
Many parents (among all the religions) struggle to put their kids in to the religious system they belong to. I think one reason they do this is because they think religion give their kids a moral basis for their character (I think most religious people care only about morality).
Christians are no exception as we can see most Christian parents want their kids to grow up in the denomination they belong to. I don’t blame them but what bothers me is that the amount of legalism they inject in to these little ones instead of telling them how much Jesus loves them no matter how they perform in their bible memorization, songs and prayers.
There are many who put lot of pressure on little kids to be religious such as participating in church activities, learning rituals, prayers, and bible versus etc.
The church I have been a part for while, there was even a competition among parents about whose kids are going to mug up and recite more bible versus. I admire their genuine desire to teach the 'Christian' way.
But I suspect if it is making a negative impact on the kids about the whole concept of religion and possibly hindering them to come to the reality of Christ’s love in the future. Parents try to bring even 3 year olds to the front of the congregation and ‘show off’ how much scripture memorization their kids can do. They ‘train’ little kids to sit through the boring sermons and brag about how disciplined their kids are. Sometime you get that look from many ‘proud’ parents while struggling to settle down your fuzzy one year old during the service. You even get many sympathetic advices on how you can teach your kids the ‘Christian’ way.
I have heard the pastor commending in public about kids who can recite many verses, say nice prayers, act ‘disciplined’ and kind of pricking on the parents who have less disciplined, less behaved kids.
I am looking forward for your comments on this. I am not an expert on child psychology but I think what we should be doing is to tell them in simple terms how Jesus loves them and probably show them the beauty and wonder of God’s wonderful creations around us instead of raising them arrogant, legalistic, religious Pharisees.