As I mentioned recently, teaching morals to my children is my primary concern. The idea of them straying from those morals is frightening to me, so the question becomes, how do you teach sustaining moral character?
I recently read some great ideas from Rosemary M. Wixom, General President of the Primary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
First is to realize that your children will learn from someone. “The world” will teach your child if you do not, and children are able to learn from “the world” younger than you may realize. Remember the post Teaching Children: Whose Job Is It? The answer is the parent’s job. If you don’t make it your job, someone will, and you might not like who your child chooses for his teacher.
Second is to teach them now. Wixom said, “What we want them to know five years from now needs to be part of our conversation with them today.” It is like the idea Begin as You Mean to Go On. But this can be intimidating. Think about things like sexual purity. Five years early? That is not an easy conversation five years late, much less five years early. But again think back to the first point–if you do not teach your child, someone will. This leads me to realize I need to have a discussion with Brayden about drugs. He is 5, and in the modern day he will definitely hear about drugs before he is 10.
Third is to teach in every opportunity. “Teach them in every circumstance; let every dilemma, every consequence, every trial that they may face provide an opportunity to teach them how to hold to gospel truths.” This is what we call finding the teaching moments. These are moments that present themselves to you–not moments you sit down and give a lesson. These moments require you to be present physically and mentally. You also need to be prepared to respond to these moments. My neighbor, mother of seven, once told me she loves it when her Kindergarteners come home with their feelings hurt about something. She sees it as a great opportunity to talk about why it hurt and how they can avoid hurting others in the same way.
Fourth is the ever present advice to be a good example. I think just about every person, expert to experience parent, states example as one of the most, if not the most, important factors in having children behave the way we hope they will. I hope the constant “be a good example” advice won’t desensitize you to it.
These are four steps you can take to help keep your children on the moral path you desire for them. This is not exhaustive–there is of course much more than this. It also isn’t “easy”–each step has many small important factors that go along with it. But it is simple. Nothing grand and nothing that can’t be done by us all.
For the full article, see Stay on the Path.
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