My daughter came home one day, her normally cheerful face taking on a weighty look. Though I ached to jump right in and demand she tell me what was wrong, I mentally restrained myself and waited for her to come to me.
Fortunately for my blood pressure, it didn’t take long.
Michelle had spotted one of the girls in her Primary class using a colorful array of words we do not allow in our own home. Though she’d been exposed to swearing before – inevitable once kids start school – it was the first time she’d witnessed it from someone who was supposed to “know better.”
I hardly knew what to say, though to my mind came snippets of my own experiences with girls and boys, young men and young women, who were supposed to “know better.” I explained to Michelle that while it’s sometimes easy to do the good things in safe places like church and home, once we’re out in a world of friends and schoolmates who don’t share those same beliefs it can be terribly hard to stay strong.
Acting on the prompting, I asked Michelle what she thought helped her to make the good choices, like not swearing. It was at that point I marveled at the intelligent spirit residing in her nine-year old body.
“I choose friends who believe like I do,” she said.
What about your friends who aren’t members of our Church?
“If they do something that’s not right, I tell them.”
What if they do it again?
She shrugged, and looked at me as though wondering how Mom had gotten so dumb in the last few minutes. “I just remind them.”
What if they won’t stop?
Michelle thought for a moment before looking me right in the eye and saying, “Then they’re not really my friend.”
Her answers were so natural and simple I could understand why she was having such difficulty grasping why it wasn’t as easy for others.
The truth is there are many kids out there, whether six or sixteen, who struggle daily with choosing the right, especially when it goes against everything their friends are doing. It’s not so cut and dried when Mom’s not a member, brother swears, or Dad smokes.
So what can kids like Michelle do when they see someone straying from what’s right?
“I’m going to pray for her,” she said about her Primary friend, “and still be her friend. But I’m also going to tell her when she’s doing something wrong.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
There has been no greater feeling of sadness and remorse than when my own little daughter came home with tears in her eyes, and questions running through her mind. Her own little cousin had introduced her to words that she had never heard come from someone so young. Her first question was: “Why does it hurt me to hear her say that?” There was no easy rebuttal to her query. Thankfully we had just had a Family Home Evening lesson on the Holy Ghost, and I was able to draw information from that lesson to help her comprehend the feelings that she had felt. Our children today are exposed to so much more than we could ever hope to protect them from. However, I can testify that through the use of family prayer, Family Home Evening, and consistent family scripture study our kids can have the strength to persevere through the hardest struggles.