"Your Parents are wrong!"
I make this comment at least a couple times a year when speaking to students on the topic of moral decision making in the context of Discipleship (fancy word for following the example and direction of Jesus in how life should be lived). The comment reflects a reality that parents, and surrounding adults, have the ability to negate and/or disqualify the moral directives of Jesus by the way they live their lives. My wife Lisa and I often say, "We can not out teach what happens in the home or surrounding adult community. We are just not that good." So, when teaching on moral decision making, the statement is a challenge for students (all of us actually) to follow the example and direction of Jesus over any authority that stands in contradiction with His lead. Just in case you are wondering, I do not incite students to riot against authority (could be awesome but very irresponsible). We are to honor our father, mother and those in authority over us (that is also part of discipleship-Ephesians 6; I Peter 2). Still, as a Disciple of Jesus, his authority over our moral decision making is of first priority-we do call Him Lord of our life. So...
"What should I wear?"
"How should I speak?"
"What movie should I watch?"
"Should I do my own homework?"
"What music should I listen to?"
"How should I view authority?"
"How should I spend my time?"
are decisions that SHOULD be impacted by our commitment to follow Jesus as Lord. Again, "Your Parents are wrong!" is not a statement derailing adult authority. It is a statement highlighting the elephant in the room. Adults (speaking to myself here) need to live with the weight that the way we live our lives before our students (our own and others) directly impacts the way they make moral decisions. Check this out:
“the most persuasive moral teaching we adults do is by example: the witness of our lives, our ways of being with others and speaking to them and getting on with them—all of that taken in slowly, cumulatively, by our sons and daughters, our students.”
–Robert Coles, The Moral Intelligence of Children
Hard Reality: Students with the very best, morally solid, examplar adults in their lives can make the worst decisions (it is all that free-will stuff).
Harder Reality: If your student is making poor choices, the first place you should look is at the moral witness of your home and surrounding adult community.