Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's all about the children

I came across this quote today, (Thanks Heidi):

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
-Frederick Douglass

Well said.

I have often thought about this principle in terms of stuff and things:  an ounce of maintenance is worth a pound of repairs. But I have never really applied it to people in quite this way, and oh how much more important are the people!

I am old enough now to have had at least a cursory level of experience with broken people. It is sad for me to see people hurting others or themselves when I am fairly certain that the root cause of such pain-inflicting is often external. And while efforts to ease suffering are noble and necessary, I often wish that we (or I , or whoever) could do more to prevent the pain.

This is a big reason why I believe that it is crucial to focus some attention to helping our children grow up into happy adults that know how to "inflict" happiness on others; some important principles include service, kindness, patience, forgiveness, tolerance, etc. It is much easier to learn these principles when we are young humans than when we are fully grown.

THE CRAYON BOX THAT TALKED from tim webb on Vimeo.

One caveat and discussion question: This principle has been repeatedly used by both well-meaning and nefarious men to attempt to force many young people (particularly those who have a natural disposition toward people-pleasing or authority-respecting) into aligning themselves with particular ideologies. This approach to child-rearing has had success I believe because the principle in the above quote is true.

How can we apply this principle to help our children become the type of people who influence happiness, without using force or coercion?


  1. Austin, your question immediately made me think of the scriptures in the D&C where it talks about the rights of the priesthood and how it should be used. I looked it up and I feel like the same principles could apply to raising children. D&C 121: 41-45. I like it.

  2. Also, I didn't watch the video yet, so I may not be answering your question...

  3. As with anything else, you show them the light. Give them as much truth and knowledge as you can while retaining their autonomy. If they act in some way you don't think they should, they must be missing or misunderstanding a key principle. Promise blessings and live such that they can see those blessings in your life.

  4. Thanks Mark. I think that is half of the key. The other half may be to recognize that when others are doing things that you think they should not do, you might be the one who is lacking light.

    Keeping this option always open allows us to progress (and we can likely all agree that each of us has room to improve). The best situation is likely the one in which all parties keep that option open. Pride is the killer.