Dealing with Children in the Group

There are very few children in the group. Because they live, as far as is known, sexually abstinent lives, small children end up in the group only when their parents join. These are usually young parents (generally in their early 20s). Child-raising is very strict and strongly oriented toward discipline. According to the group’s opinion, children and even babies must continuously obey. Parents are therefore usually very strict. Whatever they say must happen. Behind this behavior is the thought that in this way, the child’s concept of God is formed. God is, after all, our Father. And if children get used to taking the parent’s admonishments lightly, and ignoring their instructions, then they could perhaps later take God too lightly, and violate His commands. Outsiders, however, ask how this concept of God, oriented around commands and obedience, is to be reconciled with the concept of the loving Father, which Jesus announced to us.

In dealing with children, the group assumes that they have well-developed reasoning. Many of the children’s actions are scrutinized as to what the children had in mind, what they intended or thought. For example, even the smallest children must know that the mother’s Bible study is a very important thing. If they disrupt by means of crying or whining, then this shows their evilness. Because the parents are fully engaged in the group’s activities (Bible readings, missionary work), the children are often left to other group members. In principle, they are raised by everyone in the group, because a family’s private boundaries would contradict the concept of community.

In child-raising, too, one detects the continual effort to do nothing wrong (because that is already a sin) and to discuss in the group every measure taken with the children. Especially in child-raising, there are often conflicting opinions about what is proper. An easygoing handling of the situation is very rare. Rather, they continuously scrutinize whether everything is being done properly. In spite of this, the children also experience warmth; they are played with and horsed around with. But a mother has already been criticized for dealing too warmly with her child. Children are routinely taken along on missionary trips and weekend hikes, when they sleep in the vans. If they are sick, then someone (not necessarily their own parents) often stays home with them. Even in this point, however, the opposite has been observed: that a mother took her baby with a high fever along on a missionary trip with the assurance: “God wants to you to go on this trip. He will protect the little one.”