Family Magazine

Becoming Our Children's Moral Compass

By Joanigeltman @joanigeltman

“Boys will be boys, you know those hormones!” “I was so drunk I didn’t know what I was doing!” “She wanted it!” This is what is often said by and about young men caught in the act of sexual assault. The case of Brock Turner, the Stamford student who several years ago brutally raped a young woman, was sentenced to the minimal sentence of 6 months in county jail and probation. In all actuality, he will probably be out sooner. He used these excuses to rationalize his violent attack on this unconscious woman. But as heinous as this attack was, the reaction of Brock’s dad Dan was equally as atrocious. In a statement to the court on the day of his son’s sentencing he said: “ This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.”
Parents are supposed to provide the moral center for their children. Human beings are not born with a moral compass, they must be taught, and it must be modeled. There is no other way. In my work as a parenting coach, I have come across many situations in which teens have made bad and unsafe decisions. Some parents react with appropriate anger, and provide reasonable consequences as well as a roadmap for their teen to grow and learn from the experience. But there are also many parents, Like Dan Turner who do the opposite. Rather than holding their kids accountable for their actions, they look for ways to manipulate the system, becoming confrontational and on the offensive. They look for any way possible for their teen to avoid assuming responsibility for their actions.
This can happen at school when parents confront teachers when they are not happy with their child’s grade in a class. They blame the teacher for being unfair, rather than looking objectively at their child’s performance. It happens when teens are caught at a party with alcohol and drugs. Rather than making their teen face the music, which might mean losing the ability to continue playing sports at their school, or having to do community service, parents often “lawyer up” and look for legal loopholes to get their teen off.
Mistakenly, parents fear that owning up, means giving up, on the imagined future success their child has ahead of them. The truth is actually the opposite. Growth and success in life comes from overcoming and working through the hardest and scariest challenges in life.Make sure that you practice and teach that lesson to your children.


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