Your children live in a world where fairness to those we disagree with is in short supply.
Here are 5 inspired ways to help children learn to avoid prejudice and bullying while still standing for what is right.
You can teach children fairness and firmness.
How children can balance fairness & firmness
Idea #1 – Tell Adam and Eve’s story
How does God teach his own children fairness and firmness?
Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the “Tree of good and evil,” after Heavenly Father advised against it.
Heavenly Father took time to ask Adam and Eve insightful questions about what happened.
He listened carefully and heard what they said.
He paid close attention to what was happening in their hearts.
Then, surprisingly, He patiently allowed Satan to tell his version of the events.
Only Satan’s violent threats put a stop to the conversation.
Turn the story into a discussion about fairness and firmness by adding a few questions like:
- Heavenly Father asked questions. What kinds of questions can you ask that will help you understand people’s hearts?
- What is the difference between listening and hearing?
- Should other people listen to what you have to say?
- Is it okay to have a different opinion from someone else?
- Can you be friends with people who disagree with you?
- Could you ask yourself, why does the other person feel this way?
- What would you do if someone’s disagreement turns into a hurtful attack?
Idea #2 – Watch a movie
Watch a movie with your family that addresses issues of fairness, firmness, prejudice or bullying.
Warn them that you will be stopping the movie occasionally, but there will be treats each time you stop.
While watching the show, look for instances where differing opinions and lifestyles pop up.
Instead of just letting it slide by, stop the movie and talk about it for a few minutes.
Here are a few questions to begin with:
- How do you feel about how this character was treated/acted?
- Is that the kind of thing you have learned in our family?
- What would you do if someone said that to you?
- Would you stand up for someone else who is being treated that way?
- What would you say to stand up for someone else?
- If someone has a different opinion from you, what would you do?
- Is it okay to have your own opinions?
Idea #3 – Play a game
Add some fun to your quest to teach your children the balance between fairness and firmness.
Print out the 11th Article of Faith.
Cut it into pieces. (Try to cut it up in a way that preserves the main ideas.)
Give one piece to each family member. (Mix up the order as you hand them out.)
Have each person read their piece of the puzzle out loud.
Assign one person to physically move people into the correct order.
Read the whole article of faith together.
- The phrases “We claim the privilege” and “allow all men the same privilege.”
- Do we have a right to express our opinion when others don’t agree with us?
- If someone has a different opinion than you, does that make them a bad person?
- What experiences have you had with people disagreeing?
- Memorize this article of faith as a family over the next few days.
Idea #4 – Act it out
Act out or discuss scenarios where your children’s fairness or firmness may be challenged.
Here are 4 examples:
- Your friends make fun of someone because they have a different opinion.
- Your friend invites you to go to a movie. You know the movie they chose has some inappropriate parts. Your friend doesn’t think that there is anything wrong with the movies.
- In a discussion about what is right and wrong, the other person becomes angry and won’t listen to what you say.
- You had an argument with your friend and now you feel bad about what you said.
Idea #5 – Text & Talk
Regularly teaching your children about fairness and firmness can help your children understand more deeply.
Text one of these 4 quotes from Elder Ronald A. Rasband from his talk “Faith, Freedom & Fairness” to your family each day.
(Adjust for age)
At dinner each night start a conversation about the daily quote.
“First, try to view others through a lens of fairness“
“To do this requires you to first acknowledge that Heavenly Father loves all of His children equally. He has said, “Love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34). There is no choice, sin, or mistake that you or anyone else can make that will change His love for you or for them. That does not mean He excuses or condones sinful conduct; nor do we—in ourselves or in others. But that does mean we reach out in love to persuade, help, and rescue.”
When you feel completely and perfectly loved, it is much easier to love others and to see them the way the Savior does.”
“Second, let fairness guide your treatment of others“
“Jesus Christ looked past people’s ethnicity, rank, and circumstances in order to teach them simple truth. Remember the Samaritan woman at the well (see John 4:5–30), the Roman centurion (see Matthew 8:5–13; Luke 7:1–10), and the unpopular publican (see Luke 18:9–14). The Lord has commanded us to follow His example, saying, “Follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do” (2 Nephi 31:12). Do not judge people or treat them unfairly because they sin differently than you, or we, do.”
“Third, stand up for fairness if you see another’s rights being impeded“
“From the time of Joseph Smith to our day, our legacy is one of reaching out to heal breaches and hurt without compromising the doctrine that is not ours to change.” …
Many years ago, the Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) wrote, “We believe … that all men are created equal, and that all have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all matters relative to conscience.”
He later went on to say: “If … I have been willing to die for a ‘Mormon,’ … I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of … any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.”
“This brings me to my final point, and that is the need for active involvement from your generation on this issue“
“I stand with the leaders of our Lord’s Church when I say that we need your generation’s natural understanding of compassion, respect, and fairness. We need your optimism and your determination to work through these complex social issues. We have faith that you will turn to the Savior to understand how to live a Christlike life while also showing fairness and love to others who do not share your beliefs.”
In a world divided, you as a parent have the opportunity to help your children stand up for what they believe in a Christlike way. You can do so much good and prepare your children to handle difficult situations by following Heavenly Father’s example. He does so to help his own children find the balance of fairness and firmness.
Ready to make a difference?