In meetings when I was bishop, and with my wife, I have occasionally made comments about parents doing things that they don’t want their kids to do. I’m obviously not talking about parents driving and not letting their pre-teens drive. That is obviously against the law. I’m talking about parents who may say, look at, or participate in inappropriate things. Because they are “adults”, they say it’s ok, but they don’t want their kids to do it. Perhaps it is certain movies, or certain words they say, or things they see. There are some things that I don’t want my kids to see, not because they are inappropriate, but because they just don’t need to be exposed to certain things at their age. I hope you understand the difference in what I’m talking about. I guess it is kind of the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude.
Anyway, this past Sunday the concluding speaker was speaking about the role of parents (tied into Mother’s Day) and he shared a quote from President Faust. I called what I described above as “parental hypocrisy”:
When parents try to teach their children to avoid danger, it is no answer for parents to say to their children, “We are experienced and wise in the ways of the world, and we can get closer to the edge of the cliff than you.” Parental hypocrisy can make children cynical and unbelieving of what they are taught in the home. For instance, when parents attend movies they forbid their children to see, parental credibility is diminished. If children are expected to be honest, parents must be honest. If children are expected to be virtuous, parents must be virtuous. If you expect your children to be honorable, you must be honorable.
James E. Faust, “The Greatest Challenge in the World—Good Parenting,” Ensign, Nov 1990, 32
As is often the case, someone else comes up with a better way to explain the way that I feel. We really do need to practice what we preach. Our kids know when we are genuinely concerned about their exposure to something, and when we are just making excuses. If we want our children to trust us and our decisions, we need to be honorable in all things. It isn’t always easy, but it will make a different in the long run.