Ask Richard: How Do I Handle My Six-Year-Old’s Beliefs? May 17, 2010

Ask Richard: How Do I Handle My Six-Year-Old’s Beliefs?

Note: When letter writers sign with their first names instead of a pseudonym or nickname, I randomly change their name for added anonymity.

I send my 6 yr old daughter to the only private school in our small town. Naturally, it is a catholic school. I love the people and the education she is getting. However, she goes to Mass every day and comes home with religion homework and wants me to read the Bible to her. I am very tolerant, obviously since she goes to a catholic school, but I am struggling with telling her my beliefs yet not pushing them on her. I will not read the Bible to her but let her read it if she wants to. I don’t chastise her for her beliefs and when she asks me a question about heaven I usually say ‘that’s what most people believe’. Help me to maintain my beliefs without forcing them on her.


Dear Jessica,

Your daughter does not have religious beliefs of her own. She is six years old.

These beliefs about religion and the Bible are not just happening spontaneously in her. She is being trained very carefully and intensely to have Catholic beliefs by the Catholic school where you are sending her. Six-year-olds are generally not yet adept at sifting through complex ideas and disagreeing with adults. They are extremely efficient at observing, imitating and deeply imprinting whatever ideas and attitudes are presented to them. That is why you hesitate to tell her your beliefs, but that is why you must tell her.

If your concern is to not force your beliefs on her, you are still allowing the school to force their beliefs on her. So you are a willing participant in forcing a belief system on her.

There is a difference between tolerance and abdicating all responsibility. If you don’t mind her growing up with Catholic beliefs, then it is within your legal right to have her educated that way. But don’t take the stance that she is freely choosing her beliefs, and that you are merely an uninvolved and tolerant bystander. No, you are the one who can make free choices, and you have freely chosen to send her to that private Catholic school, because you like the people and the education she’s getting. That is an understandable motive, but you have also freely decided to accept the religious indoctrination that she, without any choice of her own, is absorbing like a sponge.

You are looking for ways to be tactful with her as she develops the beliefs that the school is instilling in her, and you don’t want to upset her or put her into a difficult bind in having to choose between yours and the school’s. That is understandable, and your heart is in the right place, but if you continue in this manner, it seems inevitable that there will eventually be a conflict between what you believe and what you have allowed others to teach her to believe. This is because she is not being taught your kind of tolerance. She is being taught Catholicism.

She is being taught that people who think like you are bad people.

Some freethinking parents try to follow the idea of respecting the beliefs of their children however they may develop. This may be admirable in principle, but there are some serious pragmatic problems with it. Young children look to their parents for guidance. They are naturally inclined to imitate their parents’ attitudes and values. If the freethinking parents are too passive, too unassertive in how their children form their beliefs, the children will look for guidance from other adults who will not hesitate to indoctrinate someone else’s children to their beliefs. It is like a football game where one team has sworn to never cross the 50 yard line, while the other team is free to go anywhere on the field.

In last Thursday’s Ask Richard column, a father is struggling with a similar Catholic school conflict, but his solution is to try to dismantle the programming when his 6-year-old son comes home each day. He has no illusions that the boy is “freely” adopting those beliefs, and so he does not think he needs to respect or tolerate them. In his case there is serious doubt that he’s actually going to succeed in counteracting all that constant influence from the boy’s teachers, literature and peers.

I think you need to stop being passive and get very clear on where you stand with your daughter’s upbringing, and then assertively take that stand. Firstly, if you are going to keep her in that school, then take full responsibility for the fact that she is learning to believe their beliefs. Then appropriately for her age, start being honest and frank with her that you don’t share those beliefs. If you want her to become a person who makes thoughtful choices, then first you have to show her what those choices are. Saying only evasive things like “that’s what most people believe” without offering your own view and how you came to it is not giving her any guidance in how to make wise choices, and it is not modeling honesty.

As she grows older, she will probably be able to make more thoughtful decisions about these things, but the outcome is not a certainty. Even if you show her that it is acceptable to think freely, she may be attracted to the unambiguous certainty offered by Catholicism. Then how she feels toward you may become a source of conflict and confusion.

If you don’t want to take a chance with all that, then perhaps you should reconsider the benefits versus the detriments of keeping her in that Catholic school. Either way, begin to actively teach her your own values such as respectful treatment of others who are different, questioning of assumptions, critical thinking, honesty and compassion.

Jessica, I have been a little tough on you, but I fully understand and sincerely empathize with your difficulties. I’ve been a parent, and I have the scars to prove it. Parenting is a series of very thorny challenges, and no one meets those challenges perfectly. The outcome of how our kids turn out is due to genetic factors, to environmental factors beyond our control, and to our own direct input.

That last part is where we must meet the challenges with our most eager effort to be as responsible and conscientious as we can. Even with our limits, we must take ownership of our role as parents. It can be bewildering and exhausting, and it can be very tempting to take shortcuts or to leave things to be decided by others.

We all need help with parenting, and you haven’t mentioned her father. If you are having to raise your daughter on your own, find some friends who have similar challenges with whom you can consult and commiserate. If they are not available in your small town, find some online.

Don’t be afraid to take a stand about your own beliefs, and don’t be afraid to discuss such things candidly with your daughter. With candor you will build a loving bond of mutual trust and respect.


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  • Claudia

    Perfect letter to follow up on yesterday’s thread. May I suggest Jessica you check out this thread:

    It discusses a lot of the different approaches freethinker parents have used. I’m 100% with Richard on this one. If you do not directly counter the religious indoctrination your daughter is recieving with what is actually known about the world, you are in effect endorsing the indoctrination. What will you do when she comes home saying gay people are evil, or atheists go to hell?

    It’s great that you want her to make her own choices and decisions, but teaching your children truth fron non-truth is also your responsibility, and you know you are not being honest if you pretend that there is some semblance of credibility to belief in god. How you want to communicate that is up to you of course, comparative mythology is a popular option, but saying nothing is not an option.

  • My first thought is immediately, “Why send your child to a Catholic school if you aren’t Catholic?” I have a friend who also is sending some of her children to a Catholic school. According to her, the education is better than in the private schools, but it comes at a cost: the indoctrination of her children into a religion in which she does believe.

    I think the best solution is simple: send them to public schooling, where religion would be illegal to include, and supplement their education with your own teaching… if they aren’t learning enough, teach them more. Get involved in their education.

    I think indoctrination is WAY too high a price to pay for slightly better education. I would never send my children (once they reach school age) to a Catholic school; instead, I plan to be as involved as possible in ensuring they are learning all they can.

  • Dan

    As a parent I don’t think you understand how powerful Catholic guilt is- it’s like having a second babysitter at all times.

  • Michael

    Yes! That’s a very good reply Richard.
    I have seen a few atheists who are like that. They’ve been preached to their whole life, from all kinds of people, all kinds of beliefs and their different sects. They don’t want to act like the people they’ve grown to despise. They don’t want to indoctrinate their children. They want to be the good guys.

    The problem with this is, as you said, that the other team doesn’t subscribe to these rules. Their faith even dictates them to preach and recruit people.

    The proper way is to teach your kids the ability to think and to reason. Teach them that it’s a horrible habit to accept things just because other people present it as fact. Question things, have them check for plausibility at least. Build your kids bullshit detector, so it can come to it’s own conclusions. Refute central points of what they’re told, and they’ll eventually figure it out themselves.

  • Alex

    Thank you for this. I was a bit dismayed at the similar post this morning where everyone was posting that they’ll let their children come around. Someone needed to point out that not every other adult your child interacts with will foster critical thinking and skepticism. We have to prepare our children against the religious agenda. Like I mentioned earlier, exposing children to religion as mythology (because it’s all mythology, just a matter of time) is the best way to thwart indoctrination AND promote tolerance. “When these people died or a new society moved in, they brought their own gods and stories about the world, etc.” / “Some people believe in stories to make themselves feel better.” And so on. Does the sun rise because it’s pulled across the sky in a chariot? No. Show your children the cause and effect. They understand making up stories to explain what they don’t know yet. I wouldn’t disown my children or punish them in any way if they eventually found religion but I do not want to encourage active participation in faith. And I question your decision to send YOUR DAUGHTER to Catholic school, unless you have progressive nuns. I was fortunate that a few talked about gender equality and birth control, but I have a friend with older children that took her kids out of school after the twelve year old was told that the Pill would destroy her marriage because her husband would never be able to trust her because birth control is for promsicuous girls and that it would give her cancer and possibly kill her future babies. That might just be because we live in small town Ohio, but she’d rather supplement public school education with trips to the museum than protest their social manipulation. I agree.

  • Jim Weatherby

    Take her out of that school! PRONTO!!

    Indoctrination is a powerful thing… and that is precisely what Catholic schools do… they INDOCTRINATE CHILDREN!

    My daughters, now 28 and 26, attended public schools in an inner city. And they are both highly successful, and both have bachelor’s degrees. My eldest was just accepted to grad programs at Harvard and NYU. She opted for NYU for all the right reasons (better program, financial aid, cost, she already lives in NYC, so no relocating or finding a new job, etc… )…. your daughter will be better served by attending a diverse public school, which refrains from indoctrinating children in religion, than a Catholic (or other parochial school), even if it may seem that the “quality” of her education would be “better” in the latter.

    How good can her education be in Catholic school, if they teach her creationism, supernaturalism, and magical thinking, instead of science, evidence, reason, logic, and facts?

  • I would recommend telling her what you believe… Telling her will probably plant the skepticism seeds for later on in life (even if the Catholic school gets the upper hand right now in their indoctrination).

    Just tell her that while the teachers at school believe in a magical Jesus/God/Spirit, you just believe that they (the Jesus/God/Spirit) are make-believe. Position the God concept at the same level as all the other make-believe entities that populate a 6-year old’s mind. Hopefully with that framing, she will grow out of any Jesus/God/Spirit belief (if she has any) as she gets older.

    From my point of view, you are only pushing your beliefs on someone if you use emotional blackmail (believe what I believe or I won’t love you anymore) on them. If you let her know that you will love her no matter what she ends up believing, feel free to let her know whatever you want about religion.

  • Alex

    Well, Catholics don’t support creationism, Jim. They mangle intelligent design but were one of the original religious supporters of evolution. The Big Bang Theory was proposed by an archbishop, even.

    That doesn’t excuse their other abuses of science, of course.

  • @Alex,

    Well, Catholics don’t support creationism, Jim.

    Actually, the Holy See doesn’t support young earth creationism.The evolution they do support is a form of theistic evolution…which is still a form of creationism, in that they claim a supernatural origin for everything. Of course, if you subscribe to the popular notion that origins and evolution should never be used in the same sentence..then “yes”, the Vatican is a supporter of evolution.
    Despite what the guy in the funny white hat pushes as “God’s will and testament”,a huge number of Catholics use birth control and believe in young earth creationism. The majority of them aren’t even AWARE of the Vatican’s stance on evolution.

  • Alex

    That’s true. I give them some credit for not treating Adam and Eve as real people or Noah’s Flood as a plausible event. I’m especially disappointed that American populism has turned creationism into something you absolutely have to believe if you’re Christian.

  • Sarah

    I went to Catholic school for 12 years and I was taught evolution, never creationism. The “possibility” that creationism is true never entered the discussion in science classes or even religion classes for that matter. Perhaps other Catholic schools are different.

    I do think you should take you child out of a Catholic school. Being a skeptic as a child leads to a major case of Catholic Guilt. If your child isn’t a skeptic, they will be indoctrinated to become good little Catholic children.

  • June

    Combat the school-prompted bible readings with other myths. Also, have her make up her own myths for fun.

    The kid is young, so the mom should tell her that myths (even Catholic ones) are stories people tell to explain what they didn’t know yet about the world around them and express behaviors and thoughts they want to discourage/encourage. And that even if you know what the science is, some myths can still be appreciated as morality fables (like Aesop’s) or entertainment without the listener having to believe they’re literally true.

    When reading bible stories (or other myths), the mom should have the kid explain what the point of the story was, name another culture’s myth/fable for the same subject, and talk about whether science has an answer for such things yet.

  • Fritz

    Richard doesn’t pull any punches here: this is your job, not Catholic school teacher X. It is scary and challenging, but it is too wonderful an opportunity to miss: to participate directly in the development of another critical thinker.
    Also, I second the call to reconsider Catholic school, but I also understand the allure: they have a reputation for providing better education than public school where I am from as well.
    Let me tell you of an experience I had recently:
    My two year old son has developed the ability to unlock his mother’s iPhone and start apps, take pictures, and start up the music player. He is not quite reading yet, but he seems to either recognize the name of his favorite song or the artwork. This song gets played incessantly. The other day, I decided to try to “turn lemons into lemonade” and download the lyrics to the song: he is already trying to sing along, so I thought we could read the lyrics together and practice his reading, and make that all-important connection between the sounds and the symbols. Curious about the group, I followed the Wikipedia link for the band, and found that they are a Christian group. My first thought, as a recovering Catholic who grew up in the bible belt, was, “oh, good, there won’t be anything inappropriate in their lyrics”. My next thought was, “guess again”.
    As a Christian pop song, it will not have cuss words, references to sexual congress or criminal activity, and probably no overt bigotry or sexism. However, it may very well contain statements regarding the existence of a god, angels, Jesus, and/or Satan. In my old life, I would welcome these concepts, as they would reinforce my own beliefs, and suggest to him that my teachings were more valid, as they were shared by others. Now, I see that messages that reinforce the Christian indoctrination are EVERYWHERE, littered around our cultural landscape specifically in order to keep the faithful in line. He will be exposed to these messages regardless of what I do, even in a silly little song about fireflies.
    I have a responsibly to him to make sure that I take direct action, not simply in opposition to the indoctrination messages, but also to demonstrate to him the amazing abilities of reason he can take advantage of if not encumbered by “belief”.

  • Brian E

    Excellent article Richard!

    Jessica, take his advice and balance out their Catholic indoctrination with proper secular ideas and education, as well as other religious beliefs and you’ve given your child the most well-rounded religious education that you can get! Where she goes from there in the future is up to her, but you can take solace in the fact that you the right thing as a freethinking parent – present all the ideas, and let her make up her mind when she’s old enough. And if she wants to change her mind 100 times that’s OK as well.

  • prospera

    Many people seem to give the schools way too much credit for shaping our children and determining what types of people they will eventually become. I am of the belief that healthy and nurturing relationships at home play a much greater role in the education of our children. Also, you need to be proactive in continually giving your children reasons to trust and respect you, which, contrary to what some parents believe, does not happen automatically.

    If you play a passive role in your child’s education, then you have no one but yourself to blame when she chooses to follow a more effective leader(s).

  • Heidi

    I seriously do not understand why so many atheists are willing to give the Catholic church money to educate/indoctrinate their children. They’re brainwashing you kids, and you’re paying them to do it. Send the kid to public school and use all the extra money you will have for private tutors.

  • I agree with the posters who have already warned you of the Catholic guilt. I have found it very, very hard to get rid of in my own life. I went to Catholic school for 12 years, and yes, my family was also Catholic, which your child will not have, but if your child catches the Catholic guilt during their education you will have done them a great disservice in the long run.

    The teaching of the faith and it’s convoluted beliefs is very core in those schools. Don’t underestimate how committed they are to making all the children there believe in the Catholic teachings. You must at least counter it at home if not seek an alternative school for your child’s education.

    I remember being guilt-plagued as early as 8 years old when being prepped for my First Communion and made the connection that it was also my sins – along with everyone else’s – that put Jeebus on the cross. In other words, I felt responsible for the very brutal torture and murder of an innocent man. I sure wish I had a Mom at home who I could have talked to about this, so she could tell me it wasn’t true.

  • nankay

    Hmm. A number of non-Catholic kids went to my Catholic elementary school. Religion class was always first thing in the morning, but the non-Catholics were able to “opt out” and come later in the morning.

  • Karmakin

    Yeah, I’ll say as very careful about the guilt, that it doesn’t go too deep, or anywhere at all. Not every kid will take their religion seriously, in fact, most don’t. But some will. And at that point, as someone who went through it, it’s child abuse, and it’s deeply damaging for the emotional and social progress of a child.

  • Aguz

    I went to a Catholic school since I was six and here I am. My advice: read the bible with her, point out the silly things that doesn’t make sense, let her see for herself all the nonsense in there, she will eventually make her own mind.
    I can tell you about my grandma, she was an atheist from a socialist family and even then she have this infinite patience and listen to me talking about god for years (poor woman) but she never complain or care. Eventually, as I grow up, I went from agnosticism to atheism all on my own.
    Facts eventually destroy fantasy.

  • muggle

    What is the deal with so many nontheists sending their kids to be indoctrinated? Are you kidding me or are you crazy? And in the case of Catholic schools, not only indoctrination but the major coverup of pedophilia? Why in hell would anyone send their kids into that nest of vipers? There’s seriously no excuse for it.

    Gimme a break on the better education bit. By and large, public schools aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be. For Pete’s sake, give them a chance and if you find them inadequate, supplement their teaching with your own. This is something you ought to be doing anyway, even if your little darling is getting the world’s best education. They need time and attention and input from their parents. What kind of parents never bring their kid to a museum or a play or the zoo? And never discusses what they’re learning with them?

    I don’t care how bad your public schools in your area are, the Catholic schools are worse simply for those two reasons alone. There is no education fine enough to overlook childhood indoctrination and the coverup of child rape. Why in hell even Catholics aren’t pulling their kids screaming out of Catholic schools is beyond me.

  • Trace

    Oh man… I am too late for this party!

    Way to go, Richard!

  • Kamaka


    I’m with muggle. Jessica, what are you thinking? The catholics are evil indoctrinators who care about one thing only: M-O-N-E-Y.

    You trust these people? Have you not followed the news? This evil empire that claims a moral high-ground is not to be trusted with children. Perhaps your child will not be physically raped (unless she’s brown), but mental rape is certain.

  • beckster

    As a teacher who has taught in one of those “bad” public schools, I can assure you the children who had involved parents who were invested in their education turned out fine. If your children are going to succeed, they will succeed no matter where you send them to school as long as you stay involved. Take the money you spend on tuition at Catholic school and use it to supplement their education if you must. It may also be easier to get college scholarship if you are a great student in a “bad” public school 😉

    I too cannot understand why anyone who isn’t Catholic would send their kids to a Catholic school. I just don’t get it at all.

  • same boat

    For those who say “pull her” you need to understand. Here in California, the public schools are SO completely destroyed, private school is the lesser of two evils.

    Send our kids to an elite Episcopalian school and deal with de-programming them (4 and 8 years old) because home schooling is NOT an option even tho we are stay at home parents.

    No way we could teach our kids the way a $20k a year per kid education can with regards to staff/equipment/campus/friends.

    But yes, we must put up with some religious BS.

    But the public schools? You must realize in some parts (most?) of the USA, the brain damage caused by the public schools is far greater than the brain washing done by some religious studies.

    Catholic schools are probably far worse than Episcopalian, so I feel this guy’s pain… but don’t assume public school is an option. In many states it is NOT.

  • Wow, I can’t imagine sending my child to be indoctrinated at a Catholic school. That’s what these schools do, after all. They’re in the indoctrination business.

    I don’t question the fact that the little girl is probably getting an excellent education outside of religion class, as Catholic schools tend to be rather “normal” otherwise, but IMO, daily religious indoctrination is a huge price to pay. How is the mother going to handle things when her daughter gets older? I wonder if she’s really thought this through.

    Has her daughter been baptized? What is she going to do next year when the entire second-grade class prepares for and performs their First Communion sacrament together? What about Reconciliation? Confirmation? Is the child going to participate in these rituals? Or is she going to sit out, thus marking her as an outsider?

    Receiving Communion is a big part of the Catholic experience, and her classmates are going to notice if she’s the only one sitting in the pew during Mass while the rest of them go up to the altar. If her school has a weekly school Mass, her status as an outsider is going to be apparent sooner rather than later.

    Speaking of which, are there other children from non-Catholic families at this school, or is her daughter the only one? It can be difficult for a child to be different from all her peers. It’s hard for children to be left out. She might even be teased or ostracized by the other children for not being Catholic.

  • Wim

    “She is being taught that people who think like you are bad people.”

    That’s a rather big assumption, isn’t it? I went to a Catholic highschool and that was certainly not my experience. If anything, I think most of my teachers were non-believers themselves.

  • Natty

    We send our girls (7&9) to a state church of England school, because it’s the only school in our catchment area. We have always told them to think about things they hear and ask questions if something doesn’t sound right. We have told them that we don’t believe in any God and that there are scientific answers for many of the questions religion claims to answer.

    They have picked up on our ungodliness and now claim to not believe in God, but we always tell them to ask questions and make their own minds up and that they should wait until they’ve heard more from each of the religions until they decide whether it makes sense to them or not. We often compare one religious belief to a similar belief in another religion to show that they are alike and to raise the question of why these similar viewpoints cause so much hatred between similar peoples.

  • Shannon

    I generally agree but for this part

    “Your daughter does not have religious beliefs of her own. She is six years old.”

    I’ve seen that sentiment a lot and I don’t agree. Kids *do* have their own beliefs. Maybe they aren’t well thought out, maybe they’ll change that belief tomorrow (and the next day and the next) but I don’t think we do kids any favors by saying that since they are kids, they don’t have beliefs and opinions of their own. I think we should take kids more seriously than that. Still remember they are kids, but not completely dismiss them.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    While I personally wouldn’t send a kid to private Catholic school, I think maybe everyone should be aware that Jessica is probably reading the responses. She is asking for advice because she is a good mom and cares a lot about her child. Some of the responses seem to be a bit harsh. Be harsh on Catholicism, not on Jessica 😉

  • Casimir

    I generally agree but for this part

    “Your daughter does not have religious beliefs of her own. She is six years old.”

    I’ve seen that sentiment a lot and I don’t agree. Kids *do* have their own beliefs. Maybe they aren’t well thought out, maybe they’ll change that belief tomorrow (and the next day and the next) but I don’t think we do kids any favors by saying that since they are kids, they don’t have beliefs and opinions of their own. I think we should take kids more seriously than that. Still remember they are kids, but not completely dismiss them.

    6-year-olds have imaginary friends. Imaginary friends are considered childish and not taken seriously*. A 6-year-old could no more be considered to have religious beliefs than political beliefs. I’m sure they have their own opinions on best flavor of ice cream.

    *Unless the imaginary friend’s name is God/Yahweh/Allah/Jesus, etc.

  • By the time I got to Catholic school (6th grade) I’d already had enough secularism to look around and think, “Yeah, but no one REALLY believes this stuff, right?”
    So, I agree w/ everyone. If you don’t want to take your kid out of the school then you have to counter-balance their “education” with YOURS!
    Good luck!

  • Beijingrrl

    @sameboat – I don’t understand why you think you can’t homeschool. We live in California and are part of great local and statewide secular homeschool networks.

    I know many people who homeschool on a very limited budget. I used to be one of those people who usually supported taxes for education, but since I’ve been homeschooling I’m appalled at how much money schools have to work with and how poorly they educate children. My children are getting a much better education in core curriculum subjects, as well as in the world at large, for a fraction of the cost of private school or what a public school would be given to educate them. And yes, they are well “socialized”.

    If you’d actually like to look into the realities of homeschooling in California, check out and try to attend the Family Expo in August. It’s a great opportunity to get a glimpse into the various ways of homeschooling and I personally know lots of atheist homeschool families who attend and offer seminars.

  • Sending an Atheist / freethinking child to a mythic school should be considered child abuse. Sending any kid to a mythic based school is the same. Why put your child in a proven environment where she/he can sexually molested by Catholic child predators?

    Please think what you are doing to this child’s mind! It could only be torture.

    A religious based education is an oxymoron.

  • Dear Jessica,

    Your bigger problem is thinking atheism is a belief system, followed closely by thinking that allowing people to indoctrinate your child with superstitious beliefs every day shows how wonderfully tolerant you are.

    Have a nice day.

  • With Catholicism, if she isn’t baptized and attending CCD/communion, etc, she will be an outsider in most Catholic schools. It’s traumatic to be excluded from a community you identify with, and it is a trauma I would want to avoid for my child. I went through it (my church refused to baptize me- I evidently came out with an atheist stamp on my forehead 😉 ) and it is part of why I am an atheist. But it is an unnecessary path for your child, and I would avoid it if possible. Public schools typically have a bad rep, often undeserved.

  • szf

    I think the real problem is something different: you are not honest with your kid, and sooner or later she’ll find out, so if you don’t want to loose her trust, you’d better be clear that for you Jesus stories are just tales. If you keep to the fiction approach, treating the Bible as any other storybook, reading the Bible won’t be much of a problem.
    I guess she’ll manage to deal with the fact that school and home are different. It may even convince her that she’ll have to think for herself…

  • szf

    Your kid is a kid – and your task as a parent is (besides putting dinner in front of her and wash her clothes) to help her to find clues on how to deal with the world around her. If you are too evasive and leave her totally alone, you just won’t be of much use to her as a parent.

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