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You’ve seen them — parents who are hoodwinked by their children time and time again. Suzy is a little terror to the other children, pulling hair and pushing the little ones. But when her mom enters the scene just as a small boy is pushing back, Suzy dramatically falls to the ground and cries. Her uninformed mother runs to rescue her poor victim-daughter and declares the boy to be a bully!
Tommy is assigned to clean the bathroom, so he closes the door, turns on the water, and draws designs on the steamy mirror. After an appropriate amount of time, he wets the sponge, turns off the water, and puts the cleaning supplies back in the closet. He’s counting on the fact that his mother always checks the sponge and not the dirty toilet.
The term “hoodwinked” has been around a long time. Back in the sixteenth century, wink meant “to close one’s eyes” firmly, not just the quick open-and-shut that we think of today. And hoodwink meant to have one’s eyes closed or covered by one’s hood. Figuratively, today, it means to blind someone to the facts.
Charlotte cautioned, “A mother or father who can be hoodwinked is a person easy to reckon with in the mind of even the best child. For children are always playing a game — half of chance, half of skill; they are trying how far they can go” (Vol. 3, p. 30).
Now, maybe your children have never tried to hoodwink you, but most children make it a hobby at some time or other. Charlotte was not telling us to warily watch our children with a suspicious eye, never trusting them. Rather, in her balanced way, she was encouraging us to be realistic in our confidence.
“Confidence in their children is an element of the masterly inactivity . . . Believe in the relation of parent and child, and trust the children to believe in it and fulfil it on their part” (Vol. 3, p. 30). But, there’s a difference between being confident and being gullible. And our children can spot that difference with their eyes shut. As Charlotte put it: “The mother who is not up to children is at their mercy” (Vol. 3, p. 31).
How do you know if you’re being hoodwinked? You might start by asking your husband, a close relative, or a long-time friend. Anyone who spends a lot of time with you and your children should be able to shed some light on the subject. If they can’t think of anything they’ve noticed, be thankful and continue with confidence. If, however, they hesitantly mention an area in which you might be deceived, prayerfully consider what they said and take steps to catch that lie and expose it.
For a child who goes through childhood successfully deceiving those in authority, will grow up to be hoodwinked himself.