No matter where your children go to school or what age they are, there is one lesson they must have for their future happiness and success — and only parents can teach it properly.
This is the time of year when families worldwide prepare for and begin history, math and reading lessons during the school year. But there will also be moral lessons explaining to children what is right and wrong, good and bad, and true and false. These lessons will be taught by peers, teachers, media and textbooks — but they are best taught by parents.
Understanding Moral Learning
Morality — the understanding of what is right and wrong, good and bad, and true and false — is at the foundation of all learning. Even if a person doesn’t want to teach their child morality, that decision is a moral in and of itself.
There is no way to separate morality from learning. If a child reads a book at school it will have a moral in it. Some books teach children to love animals; some books teach children that it’s normal to not like a sibling; and some books teach children that vampires are people too and shouldn’t be feared. The list can go on and on.
The moral or amoral conduct of peers also teaches lessons to our children about what is appropriate social and sexual behavior. And the teacher’s response to social and sexual discussions and situations happening in the classroom, on the playground and in the halls also teach our children about how they should respond to and mentally process the moral lessons.
I’ve now been engaged in teaching my children and other people’s children for 19+ years, and I’ve learned that teaching that omits moral lessons is meaningless to the learners. They crave the moral instruction. Think of how small children are obsessed with determining who is wrong or at fault, and who was right while playing with friends.
I’ve also found that teaching that involves discussion, writing, or reading materials cannot steer clear of moral content. How can a discussion happen with no right or wrong? How can a good paper be written standing only on middle ground? No significant transformation or inspiration can happen without a right and wrong.
Morality is often associated with religion. Many people think that if a person presents a moral during instruction by declaring some action or way of thinking as wrong, then the person must be pushing religious views on another. Don’t be fooled by this assumption.
When a teacher or person refuses to identify something as wrong or right, that is also moral instruction. The moral lesson taught in this case is that there is no right or wrong, and that morals are not ideas worth being concerned with. Some people believe in the doctrines of faith while others believe in the doctrines of society. Both are religions.
While people worldwide conscientiously try to not ruffle feathers by not talking about if it’s okay or not to have sexual relationships at young ages, they seem to have no problem emphatically declaring that humans must protect the rights of animals. Animal rights statements are sermons for a group of people who feel a deep conviction to love and protect animals.
I hope it’s easy to see that a statement about an endangered species is just as much a moral statement as a statement about sexual conduct or dishonesty.
The Lesson of All Lessons
Since all learning is intrinsically moral in purpose, parents must make sure to constantly engage in the learning discussion.
When a child reads a book, parents must be there to discuss it chapter by chapter. Talk about the homework. Read the papers. Look over the text in the books. I know it seems like more work to follow the moral discussions the children are engaged in, but taking this little bit of time has never been more important.
As a public speaker and author, I know without a doubt that everyone has an agenda. This doesn’t mean everyone is a villain or is out to hurt a child, a faith or a family, but they do have ideologies they hold dear. They feel these ideologies will help all the people in their sphere of influence. Even teachers in our children’s church classes can and do present social lessons that might not fit into gospel definitions of what is true and false. The teacher is not trying to be bad — they’re simply following two agendas at the same time: social and gospel.
The lesson of all lessons, the lesson that makes every other lesson matter, is the lesson teaching what is wrong and what is right, what is good and what is bad, and what is true and what is false. This lesson cannot be taught in one sitting. It’s a lesson that makes all the learning matter, gives focus and purpose through education to the children, and must be learned with each new piece of information.
In order to teach a child correct morals as they learn piece-by-piece, the parent needs to be regularly engaged in moral conversation with the child daily. Throughout history, American families have had a history of having a family Bible reading or devotional daily. Why would our society do this? Simple — to keep the child pointed in the right direction throughout their most influential learning years.
But don’t stop at scripture reading. Families who are regularly engaged in reading a family book together and reading stories of their ancestors — as well as discussing what the children and parents are reading during their personal reading time and finding in the news — will create a lot of deep discussions based on prominent ideas.
In our day of YouTube, email, computer games, and an abundance of movies, parents need to also pick apart and discuss the morals and messages being presented on digital platforms and why certain things will not be seen or read in their families.
There is a new worldview taking root in our society to convince people that there is no right or wrong, no good or bad, no true or false. It’s called moral relativism. This -ism suggests that if a person wants to do it, then it’s right. This -ism makes each person a God. Moral relativism is ironic. The ideology suggests that there isn’t a, right or wrong, yet it says that a person who believes there is a right or wrong defined by God is wrong. The reality of the matter is there is no true foundation behind the –ism, and so it should be brought into the light and discussed by parents with children.
When a child fully understands and can articulate reasons for moral absolutes, then a child knows the Master of goodness they are now duty bound to serve: God. And as the saying goes, “No man can serve two masters.”
Without A Right And Wrong There Is No Freedom
The United States of America was founded on a religious, moral foundation. It was believed that if our society could stay moral, we could remain a free people. The obvious lack of religious, moral discussion is not a good sign for our future freedom. However, with each new child we have a new opportunity to find freedom again by teaching moral absolutes at home.
Any civilization must battle crowd think. The American people, as well as any other nationality of people, develop a way of thinking about certain things. This way of thinking does not stay constant. Ideas and people are ever changing. This is why social morality shifts so drastically, and so often.
One of our founders, Alexander Hamilton, said, “The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true to fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right.”
The only way to keep your children from shifting with the social moral tide is to establish your own family morality based on God’s morals. Have this be a big part of your school year, and your children will be happier and less likely to fall into the social traps society has created.
This year, as you start preparing for the lessons the schools and the media have prepared for your family, do some preparing of your own. Teach your children how to question statements and ideas. Teach them how to find the truth from God. There is no greater lesson a person could learn than how to recognize truth. I have often said to my friends, “I don’t care as much if my child never learns math. What I care about is if they learn what is right and wrong, good and bad, and true and false. This understanding will set them apart in the world as a person who knows, while others are lost.”
To learn about the Peck Family Standard, which is one way we teach morals to our family, read “Parenting A House United.”