Tuesday, October 23, 2007

popless revisited and free agency

I enjoyed the comments on the popless post. I started to respond but my comment got so long I thought it deserved its own post.

Carla said: G. sounds like she's doing fine and is comfortable with herself. At some point, I suppose she'll have to decide how much she wants to go with the pop culture flow. As kids get older they have to make some of those decisions for themselves and figure out their place in life. She's blessed to have such a strong faith community and family that will reinforce a certain set of values, and accept her and love her if she decides she wants to learn more about pop culture stuff.

It's true that I would let my children make their own choices about pop culture. Obviously I'm not going to allow profanity or vulgarity or internet porn into my home but I definitely wouldn't prohibit them from watching some harmless yet vacuous show if that's what they choose to do. I want them to know why I make certain media choices and I hope to be an example of someone who chooses what is "virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy." But I agree that by the time a child is in 7th grade they should be allowed to choose for themselves to a large extent. I want them to feel that we trust them to make such choices.

Last Sunday my husband and G. went to a standards night for the youth of our stake (about ten congregations). Our stake president talked about something that seemed to confuse other parents. He said that children should be allowed to make their own choices. For example, if a child doesn't want to go to church, they should not be forced to do so. If a child wants to play a sport that includes Sunday participation (Sunday sports are avoided by most Mormons) then the child should be allowed to make that choice and parents should even attend games to show their love for the child. He was talking to parents of children ages 12-18, children who definitely know right from wrong as taught in our religion. He said that children need to make mistakes and learn and grow from both good and bad choices.

This makes perfect sense to me. What do you all think?


mom said...

I agree that teenagers should be allowed to exercise choice in these matters but I would not attend a game my child chose to play on the Sabbath. We have been admonished too often in the scriptures and by our prophets to be an example of the word to our children and to lead them in the way of truth. What kind of example would it be to follow a child in sabbath breaking? I would worry she might come to see sabbath observance as a commandment subject to expediency.
That said, those of us with an unbelieving spouse and/or extended family often find it extremely difficult to observe the Lord's day in the manner we would like. And it could very well be that a parent might feel impressed to attend a sporting event her child has chosen to participate in.
The promised blessings for keeping the sabbath are explicit and beautiful and well worth the struggle to discern the Lord's will
for us in this matter.

ave said...

It seems to me that the fireside speaker J and G listened to created a gray area for the church members. We aren't used to gray. Most people in the church are used to "following all the rules." There is safety in that. It is like your stake presidency is pushing more accountability on to the parents for being thougtful and prayerful parents, instead of saying do this or do that.

ML said...

Well, first of all we should remember that kids are going to make their own choices whether you "allow" them to or not. Keeping the Sabbath holy isn't only about what you do or don't do on Sunday any more than fasting is only about not eating.

I really liked what Mom said (hi Mom!) about what she would do. How is breaking what we believe to be a commandment (as in LAW) of God being supportive to our children? A parent whose personal principles are bendable to their child's will/choices/etc., may be sacrificing their integrity--and possibly their child's respect.

It isn't easy. On the occasion when I have been wise enough to tell my child "Okay,this is the right choice, but you can decide for yourself," it's been very hard to have them make the other choice and keep quiet(okay Mal, you can stop laughing now). You have to really mean that "decide for yourself" part and back off. It does not mean that you have to suspend your own values for them. At least you've reaffirmed your position and set the standard without compromise, benefiting not only them, but the rest of the children in the family as well.

Sorry about the rambling comment. I hope it makes some sense!

Auntie Lee said...

Yes, I agree with Sis and ml (hi there!)because you can not really make your children do anything. I think that speaker was talking about older kids but also he was referring to families where everyone in the house is going to church on Sunday. My husband does not want anything religious in our house so for us every Sunday morning is stressful so the discussion is mute. On the other hand he does believe in example.

At the end of the day setting an example is about as far as you truly can go. In our house I do not allow profanity and try to keep the negative media out as well. What is done outside the house I really have no control over but because of our example, my kids and their friends know very well what is appropriate or not. They also know my mantra, 'We are here to be happy and the rules are there to accomplish that."

I also think parents should pay attention to what is going on. I know and play all the video games my children play and I know all their music. If their hobby is pokemon than mine is pokemon (at the moment it is hip hop). The kids know I am paying attention, they know I care, it keeps me young and they think I am a cool mom to boot. I figure, why have kids if your not going to pay attention to them?

Calandria said...

Interesting comments. I think there are a lot of wise people reading this blog.

There was a man in our stake, a prominent leader and much-loved speaker, who had a 16-yr-old son. The son had always been taught to observe the Sabbath, but he made the decision to join a basketball team that had games on Sunday. The father zipped over to one of his son's games after church one day, in fact I think he had to leave early. When his son looked up to the stands and saw his father sitting there awkwardly in his dark suit, white shirt, and tie, I doubt that the first thing that came to mind was, "Ha! I guess Sunday observance is no big deal after all!" No, I think he probably realized how much his father loved him in spite of the fact that he had made a decision that his father didn't agree with. To me, the father going to the son's game seems more Christ-like than if the attitude had been, "You go and make your decision but I AM GOING TO CHURCH."

Our stake president talks about how important it is that our children feel loved and supported, especially after they've made an unwise decision. J and I were talking about this last night, and we both feel that the above-mentioned father was following a higher law. Also, it seems to me that the man was not even breaking the Sabbath because he went to the game not for his own entertainment but for unselfish reasons.

Mama Ava said...

uxI agree with mom. We have had activities scheduled during church time but they have been occaional, not something that regularly meets on Sundays, like hockey practice or ski lessons. Our kids haven't been old enough or interested in the activities that would force us to make that decision. But which ativities they participate in and the level at which they participate is a family decision as it involves time and money that impact on others. If one did end up in some kind of activity, I think we would actively seek out a church that had services at some other time. Children's activities too often take too much importance, I think, with parents worried that their children are missing out or falling behind some standard.

I am of the "force them to go to church" mindset. I think attendance is a value we place very high and, while I appreciate that it's not always interesting for my kids, it is a discipline that yields an essential component of our faith. My mother forced us all to go, but my brother won't have anything to do with church and my sister is pretty casual. I figured that once they were old enough they have the freedom to make that decision. It's far harder, I think, to make the decision to come to church as an adult. I feel it's our responsibility to provide that as an expectation in our family for all of us. As adults, of course, they will be free to decide for themselves.

Excellent posts lately, Calandria!