Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships


How are we going to protect our children from the increasing influences of a society that no longer seems grounded in fundamental values? How can our families be sanctuaries for our children and beacons of light for others as society continues its relentless decline in morality and standards of conduct?

I want to leave you with what I consider to be essential in finding happiness and security for ourselves, our families and for our future generations.

Have regular personal and family worship. Attend your place of worship regularly. Have a strong network of family and friends to assist you in following your spiritual journey.

Morality and personal values are grounded in a belief in God, a spiritual moral code and active participation in a community of like-minded believers that support and reinforce one another. Too many people ignore the spiritual laws of happiness that provide a foundation for family life and concern for others.

The false values created by a consumer-driven society place material comfort, entertainment, social status and self-serving pursuits in front of relationships, family obligations, community service, spirituality and moral behavior.

Teach your faith, values and beliefs. Teenagers are confronted with social pressures and a pop culture that encourages rebellion, deviancy and experimentation with drugs, sex and alcohol.

Help your children pick and associate with friends with high standards and benefit from positive influences of peer support.

Strengthen your marriage. Needless conflict in marriage causes divorce and unhappiness. The vast majority of these problems can be prevented by honoring commitments consistently and by giving unselfish love on a daily basis.

Relationships also grow when couples are respectful and use mannerly communication and effective problem-solving skills. Your examples of love, service and mutual respect will be your most effective parenting tools. Be nurturing and emotionally responsive to each other. Listen to and care about your spouse’s emotional needs.

Your marriage will provide the blueprint for your children’s expectations for what family life should be like and how to be a good parent themselves.

Fight for your marriage. Go to counseling. Get the help you need. Divorce has a lasting, harmful impact in the lives of most children. Single-parenting and step-parenting have complicated adjustment patterns and negative consequences are more likely.

Put effort into your parenting. Having and raising children is not considered a worthy endeavor by too many in our society. Don’t be afraid to have children. Don’t be so self-centered to not have children. Meeting the challenges of parenting will make you into more loving human beings.

Husbands and wives are equal partners in this enterprise. Once you have children, this becomes your greatest responsibility. The attachment and personal security when infants bond with parents serve as a wonderful foundation of trust in people and give positive attitudes about self and others.

Expect a lot, but be gentle, firm and consistent in your discipline. Teach generosity, morality, work ethic and respect for others in the home. Teach money management and fiscal responsibility. Material indulgence can lead to self-centered lives and attitudes of entitlement.

Over-programming children’s activities, lessons and sports can contribute to the neglect of family time, family fun, one-on-one time and service to others. Have regular family meals.

Teach high standards of personal morality. The media glamorizes and graphically depicts premarital sex with its soul-numbing message that physical intimacy is no longer associated with marriage and commitment.

Societal acceptance of sexual activity outside of marriage causes confusion and devastation as people try to sort out their relationships and make lifelong commitments to marriage and family life. As a result, poor decisions are made in courtship. Cohabitation leads to either split ups or higher divorce rates after marriage.

Have clear guidelines on use of media. We are inundated with the pernicious influence of TV and movies – gratuitous violence, sexual content and innuendo, cynical humor and wasted time. It affects all segments of society but especially young, impressionable minds.

The same thing can be said for certain kinds of music, violent video games and availability of pornography on the Internet. The immoral or amoral content erodes basic standards of morality and teaches its own brand of materialism, hedonism, cynicism and instant gratification.

If we are going to raise a generation who knows how to have stable relationships and what it takes to be good parents, we have to start now before we are overwhelmed by a tide of under-socialized adults.

It will be much worse if our own children and grandchildren are caught in the tow.