Developing A Conscience

Recently, someone I respect very much was extolling the superiority and virtues of the human conscience to guide a soul whithersoever they go.

And I thought to myself:  There are an awful lot of caveats you’re forgetting to mention, fella!

Clearly a conscience does not spring forth, fully formed, from the waves like Aphrodite.

It takes years of patient guidance to nurture that conscience in the young, so that it takes root and can hold its own in later years, when the parental unit is no longer present in day-to-day life.

If installing a functional conscience were such a snap, then how do you explain things such as:

          The torture of women and children in 3rd world countries (or by people from those countries who live in more developed countries)

          People who are religiously devout, yet don’t even flinch at committing morally repugnant acts that expressly are in direct opposition to the beliefs they claim to stand for.

          The Disney Channel.

Yes, it’s time for Lara to rag on The Disney Channel again!

For example, let’s take “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody”, starring those adorable Sprouse Twins.

The boys mock their mother, patronize her, insult her intelligence, the children on the show are portrayed as being ‘hip’, ‘cool’, and so much more intelligent and experienced in the ways of the world than their parents, who are dull, stodgy, old-fashioned with a stick up their butts the size of a Festivus pole.

All to the tune of either a live or recorded audience giving their approval by cheering, clapping, laughing and so on.  Especially when it’s at the expense of a parental figure.

You see, the audience noise is necessary to cue the viewers as to which behaviors are especially to be emulated, since they are so ‘cool’ as to garner the audience’s (peer group’s) approval.

And why is this such an example of non-functioning consciences?

Tell me, would you bring your parent or grandparent to a public venue, such as a supermarket, hotel lobby, etc… and proceed to mock them, make jokes insulting them, and everything else the children in Disney and other network shows heap upon anyone in a position of authority or guidance over the young?

Would you expect bystanders and passersby to applaud, laugh at the jokes made at your parents’ expense, and cheer you on in the mockery of someone who raised you?

What a sick world this would be if such a thing were socially acceptable.

Oh wait, it IS acceptable – as long as it is viewed on tv in the comfort of our own homes.

So just videotape the harassment of your parents, slap on a laughtrack and let that baby go viral on YouTube!!

You might even give The Disney Channel a run for its money.

So, back to my original topic, why aren’t children turning off this garbage in protest?  Why do they practically hoover it up and then run out to buy any cheap trinket with such a show’s logo emblazoned on it?

Did someone say ‘Because their conscience isn’t yet fully developed?’ Ding, ding, ding!  We have a winner!

There is a reason for the ‘G’ in the ‘PG’ rating (and even some ‘G’ rated movies/shows are pushing the decency envelope these days!)

It means ‘Guidance’, as in ‘Parental Guidance’.

It’s not enough for a parent to merely sit there while their kid’s mind absorbs this swill like a little sponge.  We must GUIDE them through it!

It is up to us, the caregiver, to inculcate appropriate ‘Judgment Filters’ while such a show (Whether you let your kids watch such a thing, or you’re preparing them for what they may see at a friend’s house during a playdate or sleepover) is on.

Let’s say one character whacks another on the head with a book.  There goes the laughtrack and your youngster mindlessly laughs along.


You, the parent, give some guidance and comment: “Ow!  That must have hurt!  That wasn’t very nice!  I wouldn’t want MY friend to hit me like that, would you?’.

After a while, in the back of the kid’s mind, their conscience will start to make its presence known.

Let’s say they are at a friend’s house and a similar show is on.  While your child’s friends are laughing along with the laughtrack and forming a lack of respect for others, especially parents, your child can’t help but think: ‘That wasn’t very funny.’  If they extrapolate, they might even realize: ‘If my friend likes that kind of behavior, they may start treating ME like that, because they think it’s ‘cool’.  I’d better watch myself around this person’.

I really like those WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets that you find in Christian bookstores.  I really like that concept.  I’m trying to train my kids to think like that.

If Halle pulls Zanna’s hair, I say to Halle, “Do you think Mama likes when you do that to sister?” She always answers ‘No.” and tries to hide her face.  She knows.  The more it is brought to her attention (Which is whenever she does something ‘not nice’, the better able her conscience will be able to function in the future.  Sometimes I even ask my kids “Is what you did a nice thing, or a naughty thing?”  They know the right answer.

This evening, Halle started using her words instead of her hands to tell her sister she was displeased about something.  We praised her for that.  Clearly the message is getting through.

God willing, someday, if she’s ever faced with temptation to do something questionable that a peer is encouraging, she’ll stop and think: “Should I do this or not?  What would my mother think?”  And if she wasn’t sure, hopefully she’d remember another bit of advice I give: “When in doubt, throw it out.”  (works really well with expired dairy products).

I know there’s so much going on in the lives of parents these days, so much stress, so much worry, so much work, but there’s a stiff competition out there for a market share of our kid, and The Mouse has no mercy, so we need to do the best we can to equip our kids to make wiser choices than their ‘entertainbrain-washed’ peers.


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