(Originally published in The Daily Signal)
Many parents, regardless of their religion, quote this biblical truth found in Proverbs: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
But in today’s culture, parents aren’t the only ones seeking to “train up” a child in the way he or she should go. Now, perhaps more than ever, we live in a society that wants to tell your child which way to go.
Even in the most radical left cities in America, however, it’s still possible to raise kids who understand the truth, Katy Faust says.
“If you are very intentional about training [your children] from the minute they can talk, your kids are not doomed,” Faust says, “regardless of whether you’re in a red state or a blue state, your kids are homeschooled or [in] private school or public school.”
Faust is co-author of the new book “Raising Conservative Kids in a Woke City: Teaching Historical, Economic, and Biological Truth in a World of Lies.” Also the founder of the pro-child rights organization Them Before Us, she joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to explain how parents can influence their kids from a young age and raise them with the values they hold dear.
Listen to the podcast HERE or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: Katy Faust is the co-author of the new book “Raising Conservative Kids in a Woke City: Teaching Historical, Economic, and Biological Truth in a World of Lies.” Katy, thank you so much for being here.
Katy Faust: It’s great to be with you.
Allen: I want to begin by asking you just to share a little bit about yourself. You are a mom and you live in Seattle, correct?
Faust: We are in Seattle.
Allen: And you have four kids, is that right?
Faust: Yes, four great kids.
Allen: And how old are your kids?
Faust: Boy, we’re at that point where they’re all about to transition ages. So in a couple months, I’ll have 20, 18, 16, and 14. So one in college, and the rest in high school, and then eighth grade. So largely teenagers.
Allen: And I love the fact that you address that you have sent your kids to public school. In the book, you talk about this. And you mentioned something that is really a hot topic among many conservatives right now, which is, do or don’t send your kids to public schools?
And many folks that I’ve had on this show have given that warning, that message of, “Get your kids out of the public schools.” And you say, well, yes, there’s weight to that argument. For so many families, that’s not an option.
So how have you navigated that and what is advice to parents who, they don’t have an option to get their kids out of public schools?
Faust: That is one of the reasons why we wrote the book, because we’ve got friends who are homeschooling kids, doing it very, very well. We’ve got [friends] who are sending their kids to private school, which is also going well.
Ninety percent of people have their kids in public school and some of them are sending them there because they really don’t have another option. They’re a single parent. We’ve got friends who have a divorce situation where they are not able to direct their child’s education in the way that they would prefer to. Some of them, it really is a financial decision where, especially in expensive cities, even if the mom is just doing a side gig or whatever it is.
And so we wrote this because, really, well, for two reasons, to say your children are not doomed. If you are very intentional about training them from the minute they can talk, your kids are not doomed, regardless of whether you’re in a red state or a blue state, your kids are homeschooled or private school or public school.
The other reason is we know people whose—I’m running the youth ministry at church right now, so we’ve got all kinds of kids of all stripes going to all different places, and the homeschool kids are not immune from the woke virus and the woke messages that are coming to them. It is finding them as well.
Same thing for the kids in private school. I’ve got friends whose kids go to very, very conservative, buttoned-up schools who are marrying each other, two girls marrying each other on the playground.
So we are going to have to navigate and equip our children to navigate the current culture. And so what Stacy [Manning] and I have done in the book is we’ve said, here’s the timeless parenting principles that we’ve been able to apply to this current cultural moment so that our kids, who have largely gone to public schools, can stand firm. They can spot the lie. They can push back. They know how to navigate aggressive adults or aggressive teachers. They can win arguments, which I tell my kids, “You don’t need to start the argument, but if it comes to, you better win that argument.”
Allen: Now, Chapter 2 of the book, you talk about getting to your kids first, being the first one to have conversations with your kid, bringing up challenging topics. That’s intimidating for some parents. And I think, for so many parents, their heart is they want to protect their kids’ innocence. They don’t want to introduce their kids to transgenderism before their child is even really aware at all of those terms or of sexual culture.
So what does that look like to have to, as a parent, maybe have some conversations that you’re not really excited about having with your kid, but knowing, “OK, it’s me or it’s someone on the playground”?
Faust: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And so what we do in the book is we lay out age-appropriate strategies for how to inculcate a Christian worldview or a conservative worldview into your child.
And so all through elementary school, we do recommend that you filter out distortions, you filter out damaging ideas, you filter out as much as possible adults who would seek to evangelize and disciple your child into a worldview that is counter to your beliefs.
But even when you’re filtering out, which is important, you do need to be the first person to alert your child to all of the really troubling things that they’re going to find in the world.
Now, this is called the founder’s principle and it is that whoever gets to the kid first about a challenging topic, they will automatically consider the expert.
So if the first time your kid is even aware that there is something called pornography is when a fourth grader on the playground sticks a phone in his face with a disturbing video, who do you think he’s going to go back to when he wants more information about it? He will go to that fourth grader. The fourth grader has just established himself as the expert on the topic of porn.
And so I’m not saying that you talk to your fourth grader or your third grader about all the disturbing ways that pornography is manifesting itself on the web. What you do need to say is, “Hey, there’s a lot of screens in your world, some at our house, some at other people’s houses. Sometimes on those screens, you’re going to see pictures. There could be pictures of naked people or videos of naked people, and it’s kind of yucky. That’s called porn. If that happens, just let me know.” That’s what we’re talking about.
“Hey, honey, some people think that a boy can become a girl and a girl can become a boy, but we know that’s not true because your body tells you if you’re a boy or girl and your body’s not going to change.” That’s what we’re talking about.
So that when their teacher does say, “Hey, John came back to school this year and now he’s Janie,” the kid doesn’t go, “Oh, I’ve never heard this before. Let me ask my teacher some questions about it.” The kid goes, “My mom told me this might happen. I can ask her.”
So it’s very important to get to your kid first. That actually is one of the most important aspects of inculcating your worldview in your children because you have got to establish yourself as the authority in your child’s life about all the controversial topics that they’re hearing about today.
And if you think, “Oh, I don’t want to do this yet,” just think … who do you want talking to your kid about this—the teacher, the internet, their friends? Somebody will. It needs to be you.
Allen: How has this played out with your own kids, Katy? Can you explain some just practical examples of what this has looked like with your own children?
Faust: Well, our first, we actually, she is the only kid, oh, no, I guess our second, too, went all the way through private school in the elementary school years because that was actually our goal. We’re like, “We’re going to filter this out in elementary school,” and then we evaluate and actually give our kids quite a bit of freedom to decide where they wanted to go to school in middle school and high school.
And so we had high sheltering, high filtering out for our girls, but then The Little School closed and we were not in a place to send them to another school that was going to be more expensive. So our boys went to public elementary school.
And so with our girls, we were able to more successfully ensconce them, but we did still give them lots of heads up of what was happening in the world.
And one of the big ways that we do that, literally, it’s just such an amazing hack, is you expose them to what it is that you’re listening to you. You’re not listening to things that are graphic or grotesque, but you are listening to—if you’re listening to this podcast, if you’re a subscriber to The Daily Signal, you’re listening to topics about all these culture issues, you’re listening to abortion interviews, you’re studying the harms of cross-sex hormones.
For the longest time when my kids, all of them, were in elementary school, I would just listen to cultural podcasts, Christian podcasts on speaker while I cooked dinner. And anytime they were in the room with me, they were also listening to what I was listening to. So they would get Ben Shapiro’s commentary on the culture and they would get the “Breakpoint” podcast, talking about bioethics and whatever it was.
And so that actually is one of the biggest parenting hacks, is you let them into the world that you’re already in, touching on these different topics. And so they know, if they hear something like socialism, they’ll say, “Oh, my mom listened to something about that.” And then hopefully get to your kids and say, “Hey, there’s some people that think that the government should control what you buy and what you sell. And that’s really, really scary because that’s part of controlling a population and that leads to really bad things.”
So you can get to your kids about these topics in age-appropriate ways, in ways that don’t violate their innocence, which is exactly what you need to do.
Now, the other side understands this critical principle of getting to kids first. That is literally why they freaked out over the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill. They knew that, if teachers were talking to third graders, that the school would then be the expert on LGBT issues. And so the other side understands this getting to your kids first thing very, very well.
So … for our kids that were younger, they got to hear the older kids having these conversations and asking these questions, which is another fantastic way to, again, in age-appropriate ways, introduce your younger kids to this.
For example, I didn’t have a direct conversation with my third grader, my youngest, when he was a third grader about transgenderism. I never said, “Hey, there’s people that think that boys can become girls.” But he had heard the word enough. He had heard conversations with his older siblings so that when one day he came home and he said, third grade, public school, “Mom, my teacher said that boys can wear dresses.” And I said, “OK, what do you think about that?” And he thought really hard and he said, “A boy can wear a dress, but that doesn’t make him a girl.” And I said, “That’s exactly right. Why not?” And he thought again, and he goes, “That boy would have to change every cell in his body.”
And so we had been successfully able to filter out the distortions. All through elementary school, that developmental stage that you’re maximizing is saturating them in truth and beauty.
So he had the truth of male/female differences, he had the beauty of their distinctive characteristics, and we hammered it through the real-life examples all around him so that, when the counterfeit was presented to him, at minimum, he goes, “This isn’t right. There’s something that’s not right here. I’m going to go home and ask who? My mom, because my mom knows about this.”
So you can and should, I think, filter out distortions in elementary school, but inculcating the truth and beauty means that you are going to have to truthfully address some of the things that they’re seeing in their world.
Allen: This is critical. Now, for parents who are listening and thinking, “Oh, no, I have a 10-year-old or a 14-year-old. I haven’t started having these conversations. I haven’t been playing my conservative podcasts out loud for my kids to overhear. Is it too late? Have I lost them?”, what would you say?
Faust: My guess is, in a lot of ways, you probably have been building in the true and the beautiful in your world by exposing them to church and they’re seeing what you’re reading, they know what you think, you’ve been able to share a lot of your opinions with them.
So in the elementary school phase, that is where we say truth and beauty. And why is it that we say emphasize the truth and beauty? There’s a quote by D.L. Moody that says, “You don’t know how crooked a stick is until you lay a straight stick next to it.” And so the elementary school years are for forming that straight, straight stick.
And in middle school, your job is to introduce your kids to the distortions, to introduce them to the distortions to U.S. history, to socialism. That’s when you say “We’re going to talk about—you already know that babies are incredible and wonderful, and you watched your baby brother develop in mommy’s tummy, and we looked at the different stages and looked at the different fruit, studied the size of how big they were and all of that. But you know what? There’s some people that think that it’s OK to kill the baby while they’re developing. So we’re going to talk about that now.”
And so in middle school, that is the time when children are developmentally ready to critically think through what you have taught them, the true and the beautiful.
So if you’ve got a 10-year-old or you’ve got a 14-year-old, there’s a lot of ways where you have probably communicated the true and the beautiful, maybe not as explicitly as you could have, but you are only midway through this game at this point.
And now your job actually is—yeah, they’re definitely still available to hear only men and women get married and they should stay together for life. But I’ll tell you what is really pressing in their world, is some people think that two men can get married, and you need to talk with them about that and you need to offer a robust, apologetic about why it is that only men and women are—why that is the only legitimate way for marriage to take place if we’re looking at a just society.
And so if your kids are 10 or 14, you can absolutely fill in some of the truth and beauty, but I would say get right down to the business of being the first one to introduce them to, and not just brief mentions of, “Some people think a boy can become a girl,” but, “Hey, you’re 12 and you’re heading into middle school, and you’ve probably noticed that some people will say their name and then say their pronouns. Why is that? Let’s really, really talk about this idea that your body can be different than your mind and what happens if you want to conform your body to your mind instead of your mind to the reality of your body. Let’s take some time and really explore what kind of treatments these kids are going to have and the harms. Let’s listen to some of the stories of people that followed this transgender treatment plan and then desisted. Let’s really look at what these drugs do to your body.”
So we go all-in with our middle schoolers.
A lot of people think, “Well, I’ll talk to my kids about this in high school.” Developmentally, I think that you’re totally out of step if you’re going to wait until ninth or 10th grade to really make your kids expert on abortion, and transgenderism, and marriage, and male and female, and socialism, and distortions of U.S. history, and racism.
Sixth grade is the time where we really, really drill down and we tell our kids, “We expect you to know more about this than anyone else. We expect you to be the expert on all these controversial topics when you walk into a group of friends. You may not know enough to refute everything your teacher says, but you are going to know enough to be able to spot a lie.”
Allen: Katy, be very honest about the time that this takes as a parent and the investment that you are making as a parent when you do that, when you choose to have these conversations? How much time is it going to take?
Faust: Well, the good news is you’ve got 18 years. You’re going to do different things at different points and you are going to custom-make this, depending on the personality of your kids, the ages of your kids. Is it your oldest? Is it your youngest?
And so that is the most incredible thing about this process, is there is no one-size-fits-all program. The program is called parent. Parent is the program. You know your kids best, you’re perfectly positioned to do this, you’ve got 18 years to get it done, and you are really everything that your kid needs.
But I do think that what parents need is a bit of strategy. It’s hard to think, “Oh, my gosh, I have to do everything all at once.” You don’t. You do a few things when they’re young, you change it up when they’re in middle school, and then you change it up further when they’re in high school.
So to me, that’s what we’re trying to do in the book, is—parents already want to transmit their values to their kids. They don’t want them consumed, or overtaken, or confused by this culture.
So what we tried to do here—the motivation is already there. If you’re listening to this podcast, you probably have your beliefs firmly fixed, you understand what you think and why. Really, what we’re offering here is, here’s a few strategies on exactly what to do at what time, at what ages, on which subjects, who should be talking about it and how—which the answer is who should be talking about it is you, the mom and dad. And then we give you some tips on how to talk about it, depending on the ages of the kids.
So yeah, it takes time, but that’s literally what parenting is for, is this investment.
Allen: Katy, this is not your first book and this is in no way your first foray into these topics and into tackling, how do we raise kids correctly? So you authored a book. We had you on the podcast, actually, in 2021 to talk about it, “Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement.” And then you founded the organization Them Before Us. Talk a little bit about what you-all do at Them Before Us and why this is not just a passing issue for you, this is something that’s deeply personal.
Faust: I’m very passionate about two things. When it comes to the cultural, legal, and technological changes that are taking place across the globe—in terms of marriage law, or reproductive technologies, or cultural normalization of modern families, or whatever it is—I’m very, very passionate about don’t touch the kids.
Whatever’s going on in your adult world, don’t touch the kids. Other than that, I’m very agreeable and I really get along with people well. But if you come for the kids, then I’m like, “Get behind me, Satan. Let’s throw down.”
So that’s what the first book is about, how can we protect the fundamental rights of children, especially the rights to their own mother and father? Which I’m so grateful that there are incredible organizations fighting for children’s right to life, and we need every single one of them, but right now, we are the organization that is solely devoted to defending children’s rights in the family, which actually rightsizes and it gives a road map for how to look at every issue that intersects with marriage, parenthood, family formation, reproduction, and all of that. So that’s what the first book is about.
And then my second book is about the other thing I’m passionate about, which is, whatever’s going on in the woke world, don’t touch my kids. So leave kids alone. Leave kids alone.
There’s been, thankfully, a lot of fantastic attention given to parental rights recently, which rightly so, because as we talk about in our first book, you, the parent, are statistically the most connected to, invested in, and protective of your kids—not the teacher, not the state, not the doctor. You are the one that is invested in their well-being, long term. That’s why you have the parental right to direct your children’s upbringing in medical care, because nobody else is as connected to your kid.
The first book actually looks at that issue from the bottom up. Not only do you have a right to your child, your child has a right to you. They have a claim to their own parents.
And when you look at it from the child’s perspective, it’s very clarifying when it comes to all different issues of marriage and family. Whether you’re talking about the definition of marriage, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, sperm/egg donation, surrogacy, the proper understanding of adoption, same-sex parenting, transgender parenting, literally, you can look at any marriage and family issue and if you’re centering the child in that conversation, you’re going to come out with the right personal and the right policy decisions.
I would say, generally, I’m very agreeable, but if it has to do with kids, that’s what gets me off the couch, into the fight.
Allen: There’s a red line there, for sure. The book is “Raising Conservative Kids in a Woke City: Teaching Historical, Economic and Biological Truths in a World of Lies.” Katy, how can we follow your work? Because not only are you a book author and you have this organization, Them Before Us, you are constantly pushing truth and just so on the forefront of this parental rights movement. How do we keep up with your work?
Faust: The best place is thembeforeus.com. Go down to the bottom and subscribe. You can stay up on everything that we’ve got going on in terms of the children’s rights movement. And there is a lot happening. We have more influence than we deserve, and I’m really, really grateful. There’s a lot happening, even in the next few months, that we’re going to be sharing.
But I’m on Twitter way too much. And so you can find me there at @advo_katy. And yeah, the book is going to be out in, oh, my gosh, less than two weeks. So that’ll be great.
Allen: Sept. 26. It’s available for pre-order now. And of course, your other book, “Them Before Us,” is out and available, but we encourage folks to pick up a copy of both. Go ahead and put your pre-order in for “Raising Conservative Kids in a Woke City” and also pick up a copy of “Them Before Us” if you haven’t read it. But Katy, thank you so much for your time today. We really, really appreciate it.
Faust: Yeah. Very, very grateful to be on with you.