Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bad Company Ruins Good Morals

This article is the first in a series titled “Teach Your Children Well.” As parents, our job is to teach our children, and what better instruction book than the Bible? I’ve tried to teach our children from the Bible since they were little. They are 18 years old and 20 years old now; Cody will be a junior in college and Morgan a freshman. And I’m still teaching them from the Bible. I hope that you’ll get ideas for teaching your children of any age to follow God and do His will through the posts in this series.

Bad Company Ruins Good Morals
By Shelly Burke

“Do not be deceived; “bad company ruins good morals.”” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

(from Google Images)
My study Bible notes say that this quote was taken from a Greek comedy that the people of Corinth would be familiar with, so Paul used these words when he was talking to them.   In this case the “bad company” was the group of people who were teaching that Christ had not risen after His crucifixion. Hanging around these people was likely to ruin the “good morals” of those who did believe in the resurrection.

How can you teach your children about the influence of others?

When our kids are toddlers we have control over who they spend time with. When they enter school we have less influence as they’re out of our care for several hours of each day. As they get older and involved in more activities, there are more and more outside influences that can affect the way they act and think. As our daughter Morgan prepares to go to college—in another state!—I realize that my time as an influence in her every day life is almost over. I pray that Tim and I have taught her well!

When your kids are small, keep it simple. They’re not likely to pick up things that will be against your morals at a young age, but other families who don’t share your values might expose your kids to things that don’t fit in with your morals—R rated DVDs, swearing, and so on. Consider inviting kids from those families to your home, both to guard against bad influences and so that you can influence them in a positive way.

(from Google Images)
As kids get older, be cautious about not allowing them to spend time with certain kids, or criticizing those kids who don’t share your values and morals. Instead of forbidding contact (which is probably impossible if they attend the same school, church, or activities and your forbidding it may make your child want to spend more time with that child) point out behaviors that you see that don’t fit in with your morals. “Did you see those parents yelling and cussing at the ref at the t-ball game? That is not the way to handle the situation.”  or, “I know that Cynthia’s family watches TV shows that I don’t want you to watch. They show things that we don’t do and don’t approve of because they’re not what Jesus would want us to do.”

How can a group influence an individual?

 Start introducing the concept of how groups can affect a person’s actions—both in positive and negative ways. Even if your child wouldn’t normally steal, smoke, or take part in activities that you would frown upon, peer pressure and being in a group in which these activities are accepted and encouraged, can make them seem acceptable.

When your kids are in middle-school and high-school, talk about “real life” events in their own lives and the lives of their classmates and friends in relation to the company they keep and the morals that their actions demonstrate. Unfortunately, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about the long-term negative effects of unintended pregnancy, drug use, cheating, lying, sneaking out, dropping out of school, and so on, as so many of these negative things are acceptable to so much of the world. Again point out how groups can affect an individual’s behaviors, both positive and negative.

Be sure to make these conversations—not lectures in which you’re the only one talking. Ask your child why he thinks “good” kids sometimes get involved with “bad” groups. Talk about how bad decisions can have very long-term affect on someone’s life.

Provide a way out

(from Google Images)
Talk with your child about how he or she can get out of a situation if necessary; my dad frequently reminded my sisters and I that we needed to have a plan before we got into a bad situation (of course it’s ideal to avoid situations like this, but a group can quickly and unexpectedly decide to do something; it’s best to make sure your child is prepared for this!).

Practice conversations in which you play someone pressuring your child to drink alcohol, cheat on a test, have sex, and so on. When your child has a ready response he is much less likely to get caught up in negative activities. Reassure your child that you will pick him up from any location, at any time, with just a phone call.  

Remember that at some point kids are responsible for their own decisions, and they’ll probably make some that you wouldn’t approve of, regardless of the example you’ve set and the teaching you’ve done. Even kids brought up in a Christian family make bad decisions. Never stop praying for your child to remember what he or she has been taught.

What are you going to do to prepare your child for “bad company”?

I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times.
Click to read about my time as the camp nurse at His Kids Camp last week. 


  1. Thanks for the good tips on parenting. Sometimes, I think that dealing with teenagers will be beyond what I can deal with. My kids are young, still, but with all the negativity you hear, it scary! I appreciate your perspective!

  2. Hi Heather!

    Thank you so much for your comment.

    My kids are now 18 and 20 years old and I can honestly say their teenage years were, for the most part, a lot of fun. Yes--they test limits, get an attitude, and challenge as they stretch their wings.

    I think a key to relatively *easy* teen years is to set a precedence when they're young: YOU, as parents, are in charge. What you say goes, whether they like it or not, no matter what *everybody else* does, no matter what society says. Be confident in your decisions and do not be swayed.

    Both of our kids, during their teen years, did some things that were not OK. We did not "let it go" when they didn't call when they were supposed to, when they talked back, when they weren't driving safely. There were consequences--consequences they DID NOT LIKE. But they were made to deal with the consequences and although there were a few unpleasant scenes and days, those actions were not repeated--they knew we meant business!

    It can be scary--especially to stick to your beliefs and morals when you're not conforming to "the world." However, it is also worth it!


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