It’s not just adhering to a set of standards that is an issue. I have had to make difficult decisions from time to time in my life. Those choices, though made through much prayer and even fasting confirmed by the Holy Spirit, subject me to ridicule and questioning from others.
So the question is, how do we maintain a lifestyle we believe in and not buckle under pressure or embarrassment? More importantly, how do we teach it to our children?
Teach them about the Holy Spirit
Teach your children that the Holy Spirit often gives us direction on the choices we make and teaches us right from wrong. Tell them to pay attention when they feel nervous about proceeding with something or when they feel really good about the path that they’re on — that it might be the spirit teaching them.
Help them develop a set of values
Talk to your children about what they think is right, and what they think is wrong. This may differ from your views and may also change from time to time. But by discussing values, you make them a part of your child’s thought process. Use the world around you, news and other media to bring up topics and ask, “How would you have handled that? Who do you think is right? What might have changed the outcome?”
Teach them to consider outcomes
Have your children think about a situation, even though it might not ever happen to them, and ask them the different outcomes that could happen depending on the direction they take. There used to be a Sesame Street “commercial” on that very topic. “I could pop the balloon near my sister, and that would be funny. But then she might get scared and …” Have them think things completely through. This will also help them to develop filters and boundaries on their own.
Give them chances to stand up for themselves
Allow them to stand up for what they believe in when you have discussions or even when you ask them to do something. Let them give you their point of view or take on any particular situation. They need to develop a sense of how to hold to their guns, but not be defiant toward you. While still maintaining your authority as the parent, let them know they can voice their opinion up to a point.
Talk to them about standing firm
Help your children understand that their friends and the world in general doesn’t have to agree with them. And they don’t have to adapt their standards to fit in with the world. Let them know it’s more important to do what they think is right than it is to fit in with the crowd.
Teach them to be kind
Teach them to choose their battles carefully. There is a time to stand-up for what you believe quietly and a time to stand up loudly. Above all, they should be kind and not condescending or judgmental.
Let them know that you are always there if they run into rough waters. Help them and support them in living what they believe. Be their back-up.
Teach them to be accepting
They need to learn to accept the fact that everyone is not going to see eye to eye with them on all their choices. And that’s OK. They have to live with their choices. Others do not.
We must love them. Chances are, they will love us back. Or not. The choice is theirs. Our choice, though, is to love. Unconditionally.
They won’t always fit in. They might sometimes feel uncomfortable, but never as uncomfortable as they will if they give in to pressure. This is the message we must teach our children. That they may question but never compromise. Teach them to follow those drums. The different ones. Teach them that it’s OK to be different. To be the fish swimming upstream. Teach them to live what they believe, and they will never really regret it.