Thank you for teaching us right from wrong. It’s so easy these days to let children and teenagers just do whatever they want. I see it all the time. Everything from letting children run wild in public places, trample strangers and ignore basic courtesies to passively allowing teenagers to engage in any behavior they think will make them happy. “Standards are antequated,” everyone seems to say today. “Kids are going to do what they want anyway.”
While some teenagers and children will always do what they want no matter what you say or do, that doesn’t mean that we should just give up and let our children run amuck. Just because a child or teenager wants to do something or thinks that it will make him or her happy in the short run doesn’t mean it’s actually a good idea.
And my mom knows all this. She knows the pressures of raising teenagers today—just six years ago, she had four daughters at home. We didn’t grow up in some idyllic time when it was easy for teens to choose the right. We dealt with pressures and my mother did everything in her power to steel us against them.
And she did quite well. To date, my three sisters and I have yet to make the big, life-altering bad choices that I’m so very afraid my children will make one day. When my mother was asked to teach a class on coping with children who go astray at a church women’s conference, she told me with visible mirth—it was the third year in a row she was teaching a class on something she felt she had little personal experience with.
And it’s not a coincidence. My mom didn’t just end up with good ones. That contributed to this outcome, certainly, but without proper standards instilled in our minds and our hearts, even good children wouldn’t have made the same choices we did. I also think that having these standards rooted in something concrete to us, our religion, reinforced them in a way that an amorphous “you should do this because it’s right/it’s for your own good/I said so” never could.
So thank you, Mom, for what was probably one of the most important gifts you’ve given to us. I know sometimes it was hard and my reactions to the rules (not the rules themselves, as I almost wrote) strained our relationship from time to time. But honestly, looking back, sometimes I wish the rules had been stricter.
Thank you for caring about us enough to work so hard to instill core values in us. And thanks especially for proving to me that it can be done, even in this day and age, and that it’s worth it.