In James Madison's essay "Property" it says, "...a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.
This is a piece of the philosophy of the founding of the United States. So, when the founders said that we have a right to property, not only does that mean physical tangible property, but the right to conscience. Sadly, many people do not see that their right of property is under attack each day by media, politicians, schools, and special interest groups. The demographic of people who are the most unaware of the deliberate transforming of their thoughts is children.
Multiple years ago I heard a presentation given by a university professor from Brigham Young University that said that for years the main target audience of media and business was teens, but that at that time the audience had noticeably switched to tweens, those youth ages eight to twelve. The reason this professor gave for this switch in target audience was money. He reasoned that the sooner the messages are received about pop culture, trends, and social acceptance the more money businesses would make from them. Just simple marketing right?
As I prepare to speak at the United Nations this next week I am more and more convinced that marketing might only be one reason that children are targeted by a tremendous amount of public messages and legislation recently. Let me be very clear that this action of changing the minds and hearts of our children is done in a spirit of concern. It isn't always easy to see.
Protecting Conscience: There Is A Way
With this onslaught of attention being paid to our children, coming from every angle imaginable, what can we do to protect their consciences?
Parents must be the first source of information! Present things to your children in your way with delicacy and with your religious perspective. Their ability to use their conscience depends on you helping them form it. God gave children to parents to train. That fact is self-evident. Training involves helping children understand what is right and good and true and teaching them how to honor parents, God and conscience. We need to teach them about how to know what voice to follow and how to recognize truth. This takes deliberate training
Parents must stay informed about what is happening at school. Since schools have become the stewardship of government in recent years instead of the stewardship of parents as they once were, the core values presented cannot be blindly trusted. Also, the social environment becomes increasingly more selfish and disconnected from virtue and family as the years go by. So, parents must get involved with their children's education and present correct information and wisdom. Look closely at any class, program or activity that is new or mandatory before allowing your child to enroll.
Parents must be with children when they are reading books, on media devices, or watching TV. And, don't stop there, discuss all you see and hear. Talk more. Daily. Life must be discussed. Discussing with children is not only good for properly training a conscience, it is essential for forming a relationship. Do hobbies together, discuss and read together. Your relationship will strengthen you both.
Parents need to have meetings with their children each week. Every Sunday evening my husband and I have a family meeting and then a mentor meeting with each child. Both parents sit down with each child individually and a notebook and talk about their goals, their thoughts, their friends, their school work, and their ideas. It is amazing how much focus this one fifteen minute meeting can give to parents and children each week. It also starts an ongoing conversation in a safe, connective way.
Strengthen the children spiritually. They need to be protected by truth so that they will be able to recognize when a lie surfaces in their lives. Virtues, morals and religious beliefs and practices are the back bone of conscience. Without virtues, morals and beliefs the child could easily be fool by a others.
If we don't help train the consciences of our children, who will? Because all consciences are trained. This is why I think focusing on tweens as a target marketing audience will do more than simply make companies money. They are so impressionable at this age.
Recently I have met children who tell me they want to be activists for various causes. Where did they get this idea? Why are so many children wanting to save the animals, stop global warming, and fight for rights? Well, they are the next hero generation according to The Fourth Turning by Strauss and Howe. They were born to fight. I think it would be very cunning of someone to give them a cause to waste their time on so that they don't spend their efforts fighting for the good cause they were born to fight for: usually freedom, faith, or family. For these are the topics that really are under attack each day, in so many settings around the world.
Any business man knows that whoever owns the most property has the most power. This applies to real estate, assets, and I think it also applies to controlling the conscience of others. Protect the conscience of your children. God gave them to you so that you would train them up for goodness and to fulfill their purposes in life. The power of conscience is the power of truth. As the old saying goes, “the truth shall set you [them] free.”
Mentor Session journals, and printable mentor session forms in books and courses are available here.