By Ada Brownell
Perhaps we should teach our children spiritual things before birth.
In a famous experiment by Anthony DeCasper and colleagues at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, mothers read the Dr. Seuss story, The Cat in the Hat, at regular intervals while they were pregnant. Newborns selected the reading they liked by sucking on a non-nutritive nipple. After a few trials, babies cleverly sucked at whatever speed was necessary to obtain their mother's voice reading "The Cat in the Hat."
One of my children's piano teachers told me she worked on her doctorate in music while pregnant, and she practiced hours a day. After the little girl was born, she would scream at the top of her lungs, but when her mother played the piece she practiced so much, the crying stopped.
I played the piano often after our oldest daughter was born and she had perfect pitch.
Our youngest son, plagued by colic the first four months of his life, showed his preference for different songs while I rocked and sang to him. If he liked the song, he relaxed. If he didn't like it, he started kicking and fussing. I would change back to the former tune, and he'd relax again.
According to Pregnancy.org, babies can hear in utero at three months.
DeCasper says babies are learning their native language before birth, and they recognize Mommy's and Daddy's voices.
"A mother's voice reaches the uterus with very little distortion as the sound waves pass directly through her body."
Many people around the world may wonder at the depth and devotion of Muslims. In Islam the religious education begins at birth, according to Jean Holm, author of The Study of Religions.[i]
"The newborn baby has the 'call to prayer' whispered into his right ear and then into his left ear, symbolizing the fact that there is no moment in his life when he is not aware of religious truth," she explained. "When he is about four years old, he starts to learn the read the Qua'ran and to recite long passages from memory."
After I learned about an infant's cognitive abilities, I sang "Jesus Loves Me," to my newborn grandchildren and repeated John 3:16 in their ears.
But it's never too late to tell our children about Jesus. Their minds are open to new teaching all the time. We need to be sure it's the good things that are being absorbed.
Although I did more active teaching to my children after they were in junior and senior high school, we had our five children in church at least three times a week. During revivals, we might be in church every night for two or three weeks.
Usually I tried to counteract a school's atheistic teaching when the situation arrived. But when our youngest daughter was in high school, during our family devotions I taught from Josh McDowell's book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict,[ii] and I gave her and my husband a sheet of questions to answer as the lesson unfolded.
Our children learned "Jesus Loves Me," as toddlers and the scripture, "God is love" in Sunday school. They heard the songs of rejoicing and worship in church, as well as our home. They played and sang them, and all live for the Lord today.
My latest book, Imagine the Future You, contains much of the teaching I gave my children and youth classes. The questions and answers are ready for family devotions on 13 different subjects that affect the future.
© Ada Brownell May 2014