Wimp Free Parenting

Several years ago when I lived in the Dallas area, there was a sports show that aired during prime time.   The host, Randy Galloway, affectionately called the show “Wimp Free Sports Talk.”  It was a “no-holes-barred” type of program where the host commentated on the professional sports teams in the Dallas area, blasting players, coaches, and management for poor performances, unwise management decisions, and a plethora of other sports related topics.  Randy Galloway would really “call it like he saw it,” and he wasn’t afraid to go toe to toe with anyone.

When it comes to parenting, I am saying that parents need to be more aggressive, head-butting, jerks.   What I am saying is that we need more parents to be strong; we need more parents to stand up for their convictions; indeed, parents cannot be wimps.

In First Nephi chapter eight, we learn in Lehi’s dream about a great and spacious building.  In describing that building, we learn that

"It was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit" (1 Nephi 8:27).

Furthermore, in verse 28, we learn that those in the great and spacious building were “scoffing” at those who were partaking of the fruit, or, as we might say, those who were trying their best to “live the gospel.”  To “scoff” means to mock or ridicule.  To mock who?  To mock those who live the gospel.  Footnote 28c calls our attention to the notion of “peer influence.”  Indeed, there was a lot of peer pressure from those who resided in the great and spacious building.  In fact, that influence was so strong that those who were on the path and pressing forward, once mocked or ridiculed, the “fell away into the forbidden paths and were lost” (1 Nephi 8:28).

When discussing “peer pressure,” we often think in terms of teenagers.  However, we believe that there is more peer pressure for adults than for children, especially in the Church.  Parents in Zion who choose to live the gospel, follow the prophet, and teach their children from the principles from the “For the Strength of Youth,” will often find themselves in the minority.  One father reported to me: “I feel more ‘peer pressure’ now as a parent than I ever felt when I was a teen.  Today, if you don’t allow your children to see R-rated movies, wait until they’re 16 to date, or don’t let them date non-members, you will be ridiculed by those parents who do allow their own children to participate in such activities.” 

Another mother reported to us that in their family, they have decided that their children will not participate in sleep overs.  She also related the mockery and ridicule from other church members in her ward that have their own children sleeping everywhere each weekend.  The mother also told us that another sister in the ward said, “Well, you all just really aren’t that fun, are you?”  So, there it is!  Parenting has become a popularity contest.  Too many parents are competing for the title of “The Fun-Cool-Parents of the Stake.”  Many parents have traded their values and beliefs for popularity.  But, parenting is not a popularity contest; it is hard work.  No one said that parents need to be Ogre’s.  Families can have loads of fun and still live the gospel of Jesus Christ.  However, parents have to stand up for their beliefs and convictions, draw a few lines in the sand, and enforce some rules!  I remind you of Joe J. Christensen’s great counsel to parents: 

"Do not be afraid to set clear moral standards and guidelines. Be sure to say no when it is needed.  Even though your children say, “Well, everyone else is going to stay out until one or two in the morning, and their parents don’t care. Why can’t I? Don’t you trust me?” let Let  [your children] know that there are some things that, as members of your family, you simply do not do. Some parents seem to be almost pathologically concerned about their children’s popularity and social acceptance and go along with many things that are really against their better judgment, such as expensive fads, immodest clothes, late hours, dating before age sixteen, R-rated movies, and so on. For children and parents, standing up for what is right may be lonely at times. There may be evenings alone, parties missed, and movies which go unseen. It may not always be fun. But parenting is not a popularity contest” (Joe J. Christensen, Ensign, Nov. 1993, 11; emphasis added).

So, parents, take courage, build relationships with your children, but don't worry so much about being liked or popular with your kids.  Parenting is not a popularity contest.