By blogger Vision Distortion. Originally posted here. Please remember that while the contributors to this website are united in our belief that there are problems with the teachings of Vision Forum, we come from a variety of diverse perspectives.
First of all, I was a little disappointed. This had nothing to do with the title, but instead was a question and answer period with Geoff Botkin, whose daughters I would not want mine emulating. So I already have a bias coming into this, but have tried hard to put that aside and give this a fair review.
In order to do so, I will examine the questions asked of Mr. Botkin and his answers. This is not exhaustive of every question, as some were repetitive, but enough to give you an overview.
Did you have a vision for them before they were born?
Here, Geoff shares a rather disturbing story about how his wife had a very difficult labor with his eldest daughter and almost died. He held his daughter after this traumatic event, and thought about her ovaries. Yes, and how women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. Geoff put his hand on her tummy, his 25 minute old daughter, and prayed for the future of tens of millions of her descendents. Seriously, your wife just almost died, and you’re busy thinking about your infant daughters’ ovaries? Where is CPS when you need them?
Now there is certainly much laudable about praying for your children’s future. But instead of praying that they would marry young, bear many children, and basically fulfill your dreams for their lives, pray that they would fulfill God’s dreams for their lives.
What toys did you give them?
A dollhouse. A doll estate that Geoff built, so that they could learn how to manage a home. And servants, which I feel probably clues us in to Geoff’s feelings of superiority in life. His children are not to have doll houses, but doll estates so they learn to manage children, home, and servants. Because this clearly is what most of us will have in life.
He gave them tools for their “labratory” which would be the kitchen. They learned how to cook, which Geoff feels is a “tool of dominion,” as are sewing machines, fabric, and other sundry items. These are appropriate toys for young girls, according to Mr. Botkin. Again his main emphasis is that his daughters, and by extension all daughters, do not need “toys,” they need “tools” to accomplish household tasks.
What age did you start teaching them to be ambassadors? How did you do this?
It took me a while to figure out Geoff’s answer to this question, and then I finally figured out that the person asking the question did not mean ambassadors in the normal sense, or even ambassadors of God. No, Geoff says that his children are to be ambassadors of “their earthly father and everything he stands for.” Again, we are not raising mini-me’s. My son does not represent me. He may reflect my values and how I have chosen to raise him. But he is not my ambassador. He is not an extension of me. My son is, even at 5 1/2 months old, very much his own person. And that is what I want. I am not raising a mini-me. I am raising a beautiful child, raising him to be a kind, brave, smart, thinking adult. He may share my values exactly. He may choose to think differently than I on some things. That’s okay. That means I’ve succeeded in raising a man.
What examples of regal conduct did you put before them, to teach them to be princesses?
This so boggles my mind that I cannot even grasp what he is getting at here. Dear future daughter of mine, you will not be a princess. You will be strong and brave and bold and smart and ambitious and loving and hard working. But princess is not an example I wish to set in front of you.
Again, I think this question is reflective of the way that Geoff Botkin feels about himself and his family, similar to the answer about a doll estate and servants–what, really, does he expect from his daughters? That they will spend their lives sewing and playing the harp while managing their servants and estate? This is delusional to an extreme.
Do you shelter your children from the harsh realities of the world?
He answers no, and here, I can actually partially agree with him. We have to live and work in reality. This is not a perfect world. My son is going to come across things that I don’t agree with. But here we differ, once again. Geoff states that they simply taught their children that there was wickedness and sins, but that was “out there,” and that it was not a part of their lives. I want to teach to critically think through things (why is this wrong? Why is that activitiy a waste of time? Why do people act so cruelly?), to understand, and to make his own choice to not partake in those things. I want my son, when he is an adult, to be wise, not innocent; to be critical, not accepting whatever comes his way as truth. In order to do this, I have to be wise and discriminatory as a parent, but not sheltering.
These are just some of the questions. I have attempted to be fair, but I truthfully think it is so important to critically evaluate the material presented, especially by people who claim to have all the answers. Geoff Botkin throws out a lot of big words. He uses “multi-generational” and “dominion oriented,” but never explains exactly what he means. He never actually addresses the title question, but focuses solely on what he did with his daughters to make them perfect. He gives off an air of superiority, never once using an example of something he may have done wrong in parenting. There is no humbleness here. He also stresses that his children are merely an extension of him, especially while answering one question(“Do your children have hobbies?”) where he responds that “daddy doesn’t have hobbies, so neither does his daughters.” He does mention that his daughters have interests, like cross-stitch, calligraphy, textile arts, and setting a proper tea service, all of which, again, seem to point back to his strange belief that they are royalty.
So in short, do I recommend this?
No. While there are good generalties to consider (praying for your children, having a vision for your family, knowing what character traits you want to impart to your children), they are buried so deep in the ridiculousness and narcissism that they are hard to pull out. Not once did I ever hear Mr. Botkin suggest that we as parents spend time in prayer, seeking God’s desires for our children instead of our own. We are not raising princes and princesses. We are not raising children to be the exact image of their parents. We are raising precious little ones who will someday be adults, and not equipping them with the tools of reason, logic, faith and a solid education will only lead to more adults who blindly follow others. And our dreams for our children’s lives, in the end, have little meaning. Our goal is not to produce carbon copies of us and what we think they should be, but to grow individuals who are interested solely in God’s dreams for them.