Teaching kids morals in a permissive world

Many parents leave teaching morals to their kids to others. They are not comfortable with it, they are afraid that, somehow, their kids will reject them. Therefore, they leave the teaching of morals to their children's teachers and school.

Many teachers are afraid to teach morals to their students. They are afraid that there instruction may conflict with what the parents want. Therefore, they leave the teaching of morals to the parents.

Since neither parents nor teachers are teaching morals, then where are the kids learning? The answer, my friends, is either they are trying to figure it out for themselves or they are learning it from their friends, or, most probably, they are learning it from television, Internet, music, and pop media.

None of those influences are going to teach them good morals.

We live in a time of great narcissism. The idea of personal morals is an unfashionable one. If the purpose of life is to feel good, why should I refrain from anything that gives me that? As long as I don't hurt anyone else -- at least too much -- then what is wrong with it? When we fail to teach our children morals and bend over backwards to make them happy, we are spiritually killing them. We are killing the sense of responsibility and community that will enrich their lives and guide them on a proper path.

One of the 10 Commandments is that famous "honor thy father and my mother". Jewish law requires that children stand up when their parents enter the room. That, in and of itself, is a powerful statement. It also subtly shows the child the moral attribute of responsibility. It shows the child that he or she is part of something larger than themselves, and must fulfill their role within that system.

There is a flip side that parents must be aware of. Parents themselves must honor their parents. Your kids are watching how you treat your parents, and your kids learn more from your example than from what you say. If you want them to take their place in your family lineage, then you must do the same.

Parents must also realize that they should earn their honor. They should do it by living up to the standards that they want their children to follow. Children crave order, and are built to learn morals. Parents must teach them in word and in deed. They must not be afraid to say that some things are right and some things are wrong.

We are in a time of spiritual war. Society says that permissiveness is in, and many of your children's friends behave in very permissive ways. It takes a lot of guts to tell your kid that sex before marriage is against your moral code. All of the TV and movies that your kids watch accept that normal high school kids are sexually active. You may feel that you are telling your kid to be a freak and an outcast. It is not easy.

The secret to proper moral instruction of children is to, first of all, have the guts to do it. Have the guts to talk about everything, and explain the correct perspective. When children hear it from their parents, and know that their parents believe in that code and strive to live up to it, that is the best that can happen. Certainly, keeping the kids in a better school atmosphere and better social atmosphere is crucial, but is not sufficient. Even children enrolled in yeshiva Jewish schools are not insulated from the outside world. Parents must step up to the plate.

It's too important to leave to TV. This is our children, they are our future. We must keep our traditions and morals alive through them.