“Rear their children in love and righteousness”
The title of my post comes from a line in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The full sentence reads, “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.”
I think about today’s world and the struggles that parents have in raising children. Though I am not a parent, I am a school teacher and I worry myself about how to reinforce happiness and good behavior in kids.
In today’s world, I think particularly about teaching children “to love and serve one another”.
We live in a society today where women are still seen as objects; where refugees are compared to candy; in a society where law enforcement can murder you for simply having the wrong skin color. Though–– hopefully–– not explicitly taught to children by their caregivers, it is still being taught, simply by virtue of being in this world and being surrounded by such messages.
When talking to another educator, she mentioned how one of her students called someone a lesbian. When she told me the child used the word as an insult, I thought, “Where did she learn and even get the idea that being a lesbian is a bad thing?”
That’s not love or righteousness. That’s not loving or serving one another.
I think about Mormons who still reinforce to their children that women are sexual objects who should be covered up, lest they tempt priesthood holders.
I think about fellow members and leaders who still teach that being gay is unnatural and just a temptation to be overcome.
But how do we teach something different? Even if you don’t have children, many of us still wield direct influence over a child in our lives. Whether a niece or nephew, cousin, sibling, or the children of friends, we all have ample opportunity to teach children and influence their behavior.
How do you teach the children in your life that being black isn’t a crime? Because it needs to be taught. The innocence of your child is not more important that the lives of black children who weren’t afforded that same innocence.
How do you teach the children in your life that being gay or trans doesn’t make them any less worthy of love or human rights?
How do we truly raise our children in love and righteousness? How do we truly teach them to love and serve one another, and not just give lip service to the idea?
How will teach our children to change our society instead of just being complacent in it?
I think about the children of my white friends and wonder what–– or even, if–– they are being taught about racism and oppression, about sexism and inequality. We can’t expect them to do good in this world if they don’t know what needs to be changed.
Of course, childhood should have innocence and be carefree. Heavy worries shouldn’t bear on them. But when their innocence comes at the expense of the pain of others, well, that’s when our work begins.