Do you remember the moment when you held your newborn for the first time?
Before long, you may have felt overwhelmed, realizing that your child’s need for guidance would continue for many years. The enormity of your responsibility quickly sank in.
WHILE the role of a parent has always been challenging, it is especially so today. Why? Because the world is more complex than it was when you were a child. Some of the moral challenges children confront—when using the Internet, for example—did not even exist just a few decades ago.
How can you help your child to deal with the moral pitfalls of this modern world? Following are three suggestions.
1 Clearly state your values.
As children grow, they are buried in an avalanche of misinformation about morals—some of it from their peers and much of it from the media. Such negative influences become especially evident when children enter the teen years. However, research shows that when it comes to major decisions in life, many adolescents place higher value on their parents’ viewpoints than on those of their peers.
What you can do. Parents in ancient Israel were encouraged to talk with their children frequently in order to inculcate upright values in them. (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7) Do the same with your child. For example, if you live by the Bible’s moral standards, tell your child why you feel that adhering to those standards leads to the best way of life.
2 Help your child understand consequences.
The Bible states: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) The principle of cause and effect can be observed in virtually every aspect of life. Think back to your own childhood. No doubt the most memorable lessons you learned were those in which you had to face the consequences of your actions.
What you can do. Using real-life examples, explain to your child how those who adopted a wrong course suffered or how those who did the right thing benefited. (Luke 17:31, 32; Hebrews 13:7) Also, do not shield your child from the consequences of his or her own mistakes. Suppose, for example, that your son carelessly breaks a toy belonging to another boy. You could require that your son give one of his own toys to him. Your child will not quickly forget this lesson on respecting the belongings of others.
3 Build positive traits.
A Bible proverb states: “Children show what they are by what they do; you can tell if they are honest and good.” (Proverbs 20:11, Good News Translation) As children grow, they develop a pattern of conduct that characterizes them. Sadly, some become known for their negative traits. (Psalm 58:3) But others build a solid, praiseworthy reputation. For example, the apostle Paul wrote to a congregation regarding the young man Timothy: “I have no one else of a disposition like his who will genuinely care for the things pertaining to you.”—Philippians 2:20.
What you can do. In addition to emphasizing consequences, as mentioned earlier, help your child think about the character traits for which he or she would like to be known. When faced with a challenge, young people can learn to make good decisions by asking themselves the following questions:
- What type of person do I want to be?—Colossians 3:10.
- What would a person like that do in this situation?—Proverbs 10:1.
The Bible contains many true-life examples of men and women whose actions defined them as being either good or bad. (1 Corinthians 10:11; James 5:10, 11) Use these examples to help your son or daughter build positive character traits.
The publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses can help you see how to apply Bible principles in your family and how to help your children do the same.