In life, natural rules apply to everyone. If a king and a commoner fall down, gravity will have the same effect on the king as it does on the commoner. In the home, rules of the family also apply to the whole family. It does not matter if a Mom, Dad, or child puts their finger in the light socket; they will get shocked no matter who they are.
Some people try to create a false reality by having rules apply to some members of the family but not others. In reality, negative behavior will produce a negative consequence, no matter who you are. Do not attempt to create a false reality; it will not stand. There is no such thing as separate rules for the parent and separate rules for the adolescent. If the family meeting decides that there should be no sex before marriage, the same rule must apply to the whole family. If the family meeting decides that the adolescent should inform the parent of their whereabouts, the same needs to apply to the parent. If the family meeting decides on no drinking, then no one in the family should be drinking.
Our Heavenly Father's relationship with his children is the same. Our Father in Heaven does not tell his children to follow the Ten Commandments and then breaks them Himself.
When family rules are set, they need to be set both with words and with deeds. If the parents speak in words, but not in deed, then their words will not mean anything but a poor attempt at self-justification. If parents justify their actions by their age or their belief that maturity can master sin, then adolescents may also justify their actions by their own age or their belief that maturity can master sin. Sin has no master. It is only bought with the price of agency.
Gus and Jenni Smith saw themselves as being good parents. They had two teenage children, Christina and John. They taught their children that they should not smoke, drink, watch pornography, or have sex before marriage. The Smiths taught their children these values since they were little.
Gus and Jenni were not themselves married. They had been living together since their children were born. They figured that since they had been together for so long, they did not need to get married. “A marriage certificate is just a piece of paper,” they would say. Jenni had been smoking since she was a teenager. She always smoked outside of the house. She frequently told her children that they should not follow in her footsteps. Gus liked to drink in the evening time. He said that it helped him to unwind after a day’s work. He explained to his children that he can drink and they couldn’t, because he was over the age of 21 and more mature than they were. In the evening time, after the teens are asleep, Gus and Jenni will sometimes watch a sexually graphic movie together. The couple was careful to instruct the children that sexually graphic material was for adults only because adults are mature enough to look at the material.
The teenagers did not see a lot of difference between their maturity and the maturity of their parents. The teens frequently witnessed their parents behave in ways that they saw other adolescents behave. The teens also reasoned with themselves that their parent’s behavior must not be too morally wrong, or they would not be doing it. Gradually the spoken rules of the parents began to fade, as their actions began to speak louder.
Christina was receiving a lot of pressure from her boyfriend to sleep with him. She knew that her mother and father were not married, and they slept together. Christina reasoned that morality was not a reason to refrain from sex. Christina also considered her maturity level. She saw herself as being reasonably mature. Christina figured that her parents loved each other and she loved her boyfriend, so it must be okay to have sex with him.
John was a member of the football team. After practice the boys would get together to unwind after the game. These celebrations often involved alcohol. John knew his father used alcohol to unwind, so John did not have any problem accepting it himself. When the boys got together, they would watch sexually graphic movies together. They would sit back in their chair, smoke some joints, grab a beer, and look at the girls. John figured that smoking joints wasn’t much different than what his mother did and he knew that both parents watched sexualized movies. Although John remembered his parent’s warnings, he figured that if his parents are mature enough to handle it, so was he.
As time went on, Christina’s relationship became more about having sex, then having a relationship. Christina did not always have protection when she got with her boyfriend, and soon a baby was on the way. Christina’s parents were very surprised, after all they had always taught Christina that having sex before marriage was wrong.
John did not do so hot himself. The movies that the football team was watching started out being slightly sexually graphic. As time went on, the sexual nature of the movies became more and more graphic in nature. Each time a player brought a movie, he tried to make it more sexualized than the next player. Soon the team was watching movies that paired violence with sexuality. This, coupled by the alcohol and marijuana, led to the team raping a young girl. Although John did not participate in the actual rape, he was present when it occurred, and was charged with the crime.
Gus and Jenni were very surprised by their son’s behavior. They did not raise him to behave in that manner. They always told him that smoking was bad. Jenni could still recall all of the lectures that she had given him. They both told him that he should not even look at pornography, let alone act it out through rape. They knew that they were careful to not allow him to watch their movies that they had in the home. Gus knew that his son was not allowed to drink his beers. The couple could not understand what would have prompted their son to behave in such a manner.
Howard and Ilene got married before they moved in with each other. Ilene wanted a baby and she knew that she had to set an example for the child. As the child grew into adolescence, Howard and Ilene were careful to continue to set a good example. Their motto was to never allow themselves to do something that they did not want their children to do.
The motto was actually easier to say, than to do. The couple had to restrict their television watching to shows that did not show sexually explicit material. Howard had to give up smoking, after twelve long years. Ilene had to stop drinking her glass of wine that she had become accustomed to having in the evening. Besides showing an example, the couple was very careful to teach their teen appropriate standards.
It was not long after starting high school, that their son Jethro was offered some alcohol. Jethro really wanted to fit in and drink with his friends but he remembered that his parents were against it. His friends laughed at him for listening to his parents. They told him that their parents were against it too. Jethro knew his parents had been in similar situations but still refused to drink. It was his parent’s example that Jethro decided to emulate.
Sexting became big in Jethro’s school and soon other teens were sending nude cell phone pictures of themselves to others. Since Jethro was not introduced to sexually explicit material, prior to attending school, he was not desensitized to the immorality of the behavior. Jethro readily turned down invitations to view pictures of friend’s girlfriends.
By the time Jethro finished school, he had learned how to exercise sound moral judgment. This led to him having self-control, which gave him a strong sense of ability and a high self-esteem. Jethro went on to seek out and marry another woman with a high self-esteem. Howard and Ilene were proud of their son and the decisions that they had made in setting an example for him.