Parents as Teachers: Christian Moral Standards and Biblical Values for Children and Youth

Parents as Teachers:

Christian Moral Standards and Biblical Values for Children and Youth

Written, Not with Ink

C.A. Davidson

keyoldAnd we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophesies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26 )


Moses and 10 cropJochebed, mother of Moses, gently laid her infant son in a carefully crafted little ark, then watched over the short river journey of her precious cargo until he was safely in the arms of Pharaoh’s daughter. Even then, in the king’s court, she was there, nursing him and vigilant in his care.

Despite the opposition of those who would have killed him, Moses grew to manhood, delivered his people from bondage, and left to the world the priceless moral code known as the Ten Commandments. Moses went on to his reward, but opposition to his work continues.

In the New World, about 148 B.C., the prophet Abinadi was put to death by a king, for defending the plan of salvation and the Ten Commandments.

This revered code has been preserved, found today inscribed in stone or metal. The Ten Commandments have been ridiculed, forbidden, removed from public display. Yet within the calm eye of stormy hostility, this code remains serene, steadfast, and immovable.

After the children of Israel broke the Ten Commandments and other higher laws, Moses was instructed to create a complex structure of rules and regulations.

Today, many try to replace the Ten Commandments with gargantuan legal documents of government regulation.

10commandmentsLaws of men come and go. People have been killed or thrown in jail defending the Ten Commandments. But this moral code persists as a foundation for all civilized societies. Why? Because its Author is absolute— the same, yesterday, today, and forever. The Ten Commandments are moral absolutes.

Those whose behavior is consistent with moral absolutes are guided by what is called “internal government.” These individuals can successfully govern themselves, but are accountable to a just God.

When internal government breaks down, external government takes over, with rules, regulation, and bureaucracy. Persons under external government are accountable to men, who may not be just.

lesmisbookIn Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, a timeless novel about justice and mercy, hero Jean Valjean served in prison for decades because he stole one loaf of bread. He learned about mercy when a compassionate priest bought his freedom with two valuable silver candle holders. Because of that gracious gift, Valjean lived out his life serving and bringing joy to others. But Javert, his jailer, refusing to accept the price paid for Jean’s deliverance, became obsessed with re-capturing him. Failing in his objective, Javert finally ended his own miserable life. Such is the state of man at the hands of human justice.

In a civilized society, however, justice must be served, or there would be nothing to deter evil and protect the innocent. But much as we may desire to be morally perfect, we all fall short. What is to be done?

Many today reject moral absolutes because, like Javert, they do not understand the plan of mercy. A loving Father in heaven knew that his children would fail to keep all the commandments that justice required. Only His perfect Son could meet the absolute demands of justice and pay the price for His children’s deliverance.

Gethsemane2Parents need not be afraid of holding their children to high moral standards. The atonement of Christ is a safety net in the times of falling short, but it is fastened to repentance. Like Valjean, our children must forsake evil, or justice will have claims upon them.

If we as parents, like Jochebed, diligently train, nurture, and safeguard the internal government in our children, their souls will remain clean and whole when all around them are falling apart. Despite the fading ink of human doctrine, our children can remain true to eternal principles, written, not with ink, but in the fleshy tables of their hearts. (2Cor.3:3)

But remember, “It is easier to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

Children prepared with strong internal government will always make honor and virtue their choice; they will triumph over evil, and rejoice.


Dinner Topics for Monday


  1. Give examples in the world today of human injustice, in which the Ten Commandments have been perverted and the atonement of Christ is denied.
  2. If we do our very best to live high moral standards, but fall short, what must we do to receive the mercy of Christ?


Copyright © 2010 by Christine A. Davidson


True to the Faith

By Evan Stephens


truth1Shall the youth of Zion falter in defending truth and right?

While the enemy assaileth, shall we shrink or shun the fight? No!

While we know the powers of darkness seek to thwart the work of God,

Shall the children of the promise cease to grasp the iron rod? No!


We will work out our salvation; we will cleave unto the truth;

We will watch and pray and labor with the fervent zeal of youth. Yes!

We will strive to be found worthy of the kingdom of our Lord,

With the faithful ones redeemed who have loved and kept his word. Yes!


ShieldresizeTrue to the faith that our parents have cherished,

True to the truth for which martyrs have perished,

To God’s command, soul, heart, and hand,

Faithful and true we will ever stand.



Christian Standards for Children and Youth


holyspiritI will follow Heavenly Father’s plan for me.

I will listen to the Holy Spirit.

I will choose the right. I know I can repent when I make a mistake.

I will be honest with Heavenly Father, others, and myself.

I will use the names of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ reverently. I will not swear or use crude words.

girlmodesty_largeI will do those things on the Sabbath that will help me feel close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

I will honor my parents and do my part to strengthen my family.

I will keep my mind and body sacred and pure, and I will not partake of things that are harmful to me.

I will dress modestly to show respect for Heavenly Father and myself.

familyprayerI will only read and watch things that are pleasing to Heavenly Father.

I will only listen to music that is pleasing to Heavenly Father.

I will seek good friends and treat others kindly.

I will do my part to strengthen my family.


Mentoring Young Adults: Christian Mentoring Resources

Action Plan—START HERE




Character Education: The Difference between Left and Right in Core Values

Character Education:

The Difference between Left and Right in Core Values

keySociety cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. ~Edmund Burke

moralcompass1Before you fix society, you must first fix yourself.


The difference between right and left addressed in this column concerns a fundamentally different method that each utilizes in order to improve society.

Conservative view more Individual, not Collective

integrity6                Conservatives believe that the way to a better world is almost always through moral improvement of the individual—by each person doing battle with his own moral defects. It is true that in particularly violent and evil societies such as fascist, communist and Islamist tyrannies, the individual must be preoccupied with battling outside forces. Almost everywhere else, however, and certainly in a free and decent country such as America, the greatest battle of the individual must be with inner forces—that is, with his or her flawed character and moral defects.

The left, on the other hand, believes that the way to a better world is almost always through doing battle with society’s moral defects (real and/or as perceived by the left). Thus, in America, the left defines the good person as the one who fights the sexism, racism, intolerance, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia and other evils the left believes permeate American society.

That is one reason those on the left are more preoccupied with politics than those on the right. A simple example should make this point clear. Whenever the term “activist” is used, one infers that the term refers to someone on the left.

Conservatives expect more gradual change

One consequence of this difference is that conservatives believe that good is achieved far more gradually than liberals do. The process of making a better world is largely a one-by-one-by-one effort. And it must be redone in every single generation.

It’s about Character and Human Nature

culture-war3-reagan The noblest generation ever born still has to teach its children how to battle their natures. If it doesn’t, even the best society will begin to rapidly devolve, which is exactly what conservatives believe has been happening to America since the end of World War II.

  The left does not focus on individual character development. Rather, it has always and everywhere focused on social revolution. The most revealing statement of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, the most committed leftist ever elected president of the United States, was made just days before the 2008 election: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” he told a large rapturous audience.

  Conservatives not only have no interest in fundamentally transforming the United States, but they are passionately opposed to doing so.

Fundamentally transforming any but the worst society—not to mention transforming what is probably the most decent society in history—can only make the society worse. Of course, conservatives believe that America can be improved, but not transformed, let alone fundamentally transformed.

Integrity6-cost-is-highCharacter Education vital to decent Society

The founders all understood that the transformation every generation must work on is the moral transformation of each citizen. Thus, character development was at the core of both childrearing and of young people’s education at school.

Freedom requires Self-Control

As John Adams said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

And in the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”

Why is that? Because freedom requires self-control. Otherwise, external controls—which means an ever more powerful government—would have to be imposed.


The more that leftist ideas influence society the less character education there is.


Instead, children are taught to focus on social issues. For example, the Wall Street Journal just reported that PC-liberal-logic-school-shirtsCommon Core, the federal standards program for elementary and high schools, has unveiled a new K-12 science curriculum, the “Next Generation of Science Standards,” which will indoctrinate young Americans concerning global warming from kindergarten on.

And when they get to college, American young people will be taught about the need to fight such things as “white privilege” and the “rape culture” on their campuses.

At the same time, as a professor of philosophy wrote in the New York Times, fewer and fewer young Americans believe there are any moral truths.

Reagan-quote-accountabilityBefore you Fix Society, You must Fix Yourself

                Meanwhile, at home, fathers and religion, historically the two primary conveyors of moral truths and moral self-discipline, are often nonexistent.

As a result of all this, we are producing—indeed, we have produced since World War II—vast numbers of Americans who are passionate about carbon emissions and fighting sexism and “white privilege” who are also cheating on tests at unprecedentedly high levels.

But the age-old wisdom embraced by conservatives remains as true as ever: Before you fix society, you must first fix yourself.


Gospel Teachings: Tolerance and Moral Standards

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Dinner Topics for Thursday Gospel Teachings: Tolerance and Moral Standards Heavenly Father’s Fixed Moral Standards Allan F. Packer God’s standards are fixed, and no one can change them. Individuals who think they can will be greatly surprised in the Final … Continue reading

Gospel Today: Parents as Teachers of Moral Standards

Gospel Today: Parents as Teachers of Moral Standards

Teaching Moral Standards: One Family’s Experience

By Jocelyn Christensen

Here are some ways our family has been able to apply the principles from “My Gospel Standards.”

Clean Language

right-wrongsignWhen our oldest child started school, we struggled to figure out how to prepare him for the inappropriate language he might hear from other children. In the end, we came up with this guideline: “If you hear someone using a word that you have never heard Mom or Dad use at home, then ask us what it means before using it yourself.” We have also taught our children to pay attention to how certain words make them feel.

We also taught a family home evening lesson about using C.L.E.A.N. language:

C – Choose your words carefully.

L – Learn the meanings of words before using them.

E – Encourage others with the words you say.

A – Avoid slang or replacement words.

N – Never use hurtful or vulgar language.

Although we tried to make these guidelines easy to remember and reviewed them often, we wondered how much our children would retain. One day when our children were playing outside, I overheard one of my daughters say to the other, “You shouldn’t say that! Remember, you should ‘encourage others with the words you say’!” They had been listening, after all.


musicnotesOne day in the car a song came on the radio that was popular in my youth but which didn’t reflect the music standards I had committed to living. After a moment, I turned the song off. With a big sigh of relief, my son said, “Thanks for turning that off, Mom!” I explained to my son that sometimes it’s hard even as adults to make good choices but that we all must work hard every day to keep the standards.

That experience reminded me just how much my children depend on me to make correct choices. It also showed me that involving my children in my efforts to choose virtue can strengthen our entire family in our resolve to live the standards.


girlmodesty_largeWhen our children were still young, I realized that teaching them to value modesty over the fashion of the day would be harder to do later, so I’d better start now.

First I examined my own wardrobe. “My Gospel Standards” says, “I will dress modestly to show respect for Heavenly Father and myself.” I wanted to make sure I was dressing myself out of respect for Heavenly Father, not out of respect for the standards of the world.

Next I looked at my children’s clothing. Some of the outfits that we had received secondhand were not modest enough to meet the standards in For the Strength of Youth. So we took them out of our clothing rotation and replaced them with more modest clothing as our budget allowed. We try to remind our children that their beauty comes from inside of them, not from their clothes.

Loving Others

In my efforts to teach my children gospel standards, I realized they also depend on me to model love and acceptance of other people, regardless of how those people look.

Some time ago, while several other women and I were waiting to pick up our children from preschool, I noticed that some of the moms were dressed provocatively and were pierced and tattooed and that there wasn’t much social interaction between them and the moms who maintained a more modest appearance. So one day I struck up a conversation with one of the moms from the first group, and although I didn’t expect to have much in common with her, we quickly became friends. Since then, this mother’s family has joined us for Church functions and birthday parties, and our daughters have enjoyed frequent play dates together.

As we make efforts to be kind and friendly to those who don’t share our beliefs, all the while holding firmly to our standards, our example may not only encourage our own children to be kind but also influence other families to be charitable toward those they see as “different.” In this and other ways, we can make “My Gospel Standards” not just a list of declarations but a way of life.

Gospel Teachings: Moral Standards for Children and Families

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

Gospel Teachings: Moral Standards for Children and Families

Lighting Our Children’s Path with Gospel Standards

By Jan Pinborough

Church Magazines

keyBy diligently teaching our children gospel standards, we can help them find their way in an ever-darkening world. ~Jan Pinborough

“The world will teach our children if we do not, and children are capable of learning all the world will teach them at a very young age. What we want them to know five years from now needs to be part of our conversation with them today.”~Rosemary M. Wixom


walking-at-night_lightOur daughter got home from girls’ camp bursting to tell us about her first midnight hike. Dressed in their sweats and PJs, the girls had followed the beam of their leader’s flashlight as it cut through the darkness of the thick Tennessee woods. There were rocks, logs, and ravines—not to mention a pretty large population of raccoons, skunks, and bats—and even a distant coyote’s howl. When they reached a clearing by the lake, they all rested under the starry sky before heading back to their tents. So many things could have tripped them up, but everyone was safe. Their hike was a brilliant success.

Today’s children are taking their earthly journey when every day the world is becoming a little less filtered, a little cruder and more contentious. Morally, it’s a very murky time in the world’s history. And many are losing their way.

So parents need to be armed with a spiritual equivalent of the camp leader’s flashlight—the standards and teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Gospel standards give children safety, security, and direction. They help them find their way to the temple. In the words of the Psalmist, they give them “a lamp unto [their] feet, and a light unto [their] path” (Psalm 119:105).

Here are six ways we can light our children’s paths with gospel standards:

1. Make the Standards Your Own

living-gods-truthWe can only share a light that we already have. Our children watch us with unblinking eyes, and they know when our commitment to gospel standards is genuine.

Studying “My Gospel Standards” and For the Strength of Youth are good ways to begin. Evaluating needed changes can make our flashlight’s beam more powerful and reliable.

2. Be Aware

dangerA revelation to the Church in 1838 urges: “Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations” (D&C 115:5).

Before we arise in the morning, we must be awake. Being awake implies being aware. We can’t be naive about the temptations our children face. We need to be aware of trends and technologies.

But children must feel safe before they will talk to us about how things really are at school and among their friends. Sometimes it might feel natural to react with alarm. But if we respond instead by listening carefully and asking the child about his or her feelings, we build trust. Then our child will more likely see us as an ally in dealing with challenges.

3. Begin Early 

ShieldresizeGospel standards bless, empower, and protect children, now and throughout their lives, and the best time to begin teaching them is early on, when our children are eager to learn from us and less susceptible to peer pressure.

4. Make Them Part of Family Culture

Talk about gospel standards. Celebrate them. Memorize them. Even sing them!

Cara Kennedy of Indiana, USA, hung a “My Gospel Standards” poster at eye level in her home so her children would see it often and learn the standards from a young age. Eventually she wrote a song about the standards, which includes the words, “When people say, ‘Why do you do this?’ When people say, ‘Why don’t you do that?’ I stand up tall and simply say, ‘These are my gospel standards!’” Some of Sister Kennedy’s nieces and nephews have also learned the song, and when they sing it, they shout that last line and throw their fists in the air!

5. Focus on Meaning and Purpose

Each gospel standard is rooted in eternal principles, such as the sanctity of the body and spirit. Each one leads toward the temple and is protective and empowering. As Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said of covenants, each one “elevates us beyond limits of our own perspective and power. It is like the difference between plodding through a muddy field and soaring through the skies in a supersonic jet.”1

Living gospel standards helps us in our striving to be the kind of person Christ is. Ultimately, they lead us toward “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

6. Have a Monthly Standards Family Home Evening

dinnerFamily discussions and role-playing can help children be brave and unashamed in living gospel standards and becoming a light unto the world. Consider these resources for upcoming family home evening lessons: “My Gospel Standards” poster (left); “Stand for the Right” poster (right, also page 20 of this month’s Friend); and “Aim for the Best!” (page 24 of this month’s Friend). Rather than compare clothing, music, and media with what others are doing, we can compare with what is truly virtuous, lovely, and praiseworthy.

Lesson Idea: Discuss the different meanings of the word standard: (1) a banner carried at the top of a pole to serve as a rallying point; (2) a structure serving as a base or support; (3) something established as an example or a rule for the measure of quantity, weight, value, or quality; (4) a means of determining what a thing should be; (5) having recognized and permanent value.2

parenting2Walking alongside Our Youth

“I have a grandson who once asked me to go with him to a popular but inappropriate movie. I told him I wasn’t old enough to see that film. He was puzzled until his grandmother explained to him that the rating system by age didn’t apply to Grandpa. He came back to me and said, ‘I get it now, Grandpa. You’re never going to be old enough to see that movie, are you?’ And he was right!

“Besides showing youth the way by example, we lead them by understanding their hearts and walking alongside them on the gospel path.” ~Robert D. Hales

Part of Our Conversation Today

“The world will teach our children if we do not, and children are capable of learning all the world will teach them at a very young age. What we want them to know five years from now needs to be part of our conversation with them today.”~Rosemary M. Wixom

Timeless Standards

“Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful.”

William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, act 3, scene 1, line 199.