I distinctly remember a Sunday in my youth, I was 16 years old, and had come downstairs dressed for church. Or, I should clarify, dressed in what I thought I should wear to church. The dress was too short for my parents' standards, but I thought it was cute, and I was pretty when I wore it. My parents gave me the choice to wear it, but with that choice, they asked that I think about what I was doing. My father asked me, "Do you know who you are attracting? People that will love you for your body. Who do you want to attract?" That question gave me pause.
I soon came to realize I wanted a man who loved my spirit and personality, and have been grateful for my parent's advice and rules that lead me on a path towards happiness.
Our bodies are an amazing gift from a loving God. The choices we make with our bodies reflect our love for our Heavenly Father, and the love and respect we have for ourselves.
Russell M. Nelson, an internationally renowned surgeon, spoke about this amazing gift. He said, "With your body being such a vital part of God’s eternal plan, it is little wonder that the Apostle Paul described it as a 'temple of God.' Each time you look in the mirror, see your body as your temple. That truth — refreshed gratefully each day — can positively influence your decisions about how you will care for your body and how you will use it. And those decisions will determine your destiny. How could this be? Because your body is the temple for your spirit. How you use your body affects your spirit."
What are some of the day-to-day choices we make that can uplift or damage our spirits? How can we teach our children to understand these choices?
The clothing we wear is a direct reflection of the respect we have for ourselves. When we cover ourselves in a modest manner we allow the beauty our spirit projects to shine brighter, and we feel a greater respect for ourselves. When approaching your children with the principle of modesty try to shy away from the don'ts. Try to emphasize the good — the way girls shine when they are modest. Show them how confident they are when they dress modestly. Encourage good choices rather than lecturing on the bad. Make it a point to call your daughter beautiful when she dresses modestly and makes modest choices.
Getting up and dressing every day, even if we don't feel like it, can have a wonderful impact on our self-respect. The small things like brushing our hair, getting dressed or taking a shower, will bring a sense of well-being. We are a temple of God, and keeping that temple clean and well-groomed can allow our spirit to reside peacefully within. Sometimes our children see brushing their teeth and hair as a time consuming problem. Take the time to help your child make a habit of this. Telling them to go clean up can be a battle, but taking them in and showing them how to wash their face or hands can give them the encouragement needed.
Avoiding illegal substances that might damage your body or cloud your judgment will improve the quality of your life. Likewise, choose foods that build and strengthen your body, instead of "junk food" or food that hurts your body. This can be a hard one to teach a child. Instead of telling your child to not eat something, try explaining what harm it can do to his body. For example, explain to him that it's fun to have cake at a party, but if we eat cake every day we can become sick. Involve your children in the household food decisions. You'll be surprised what they come up with when you plan meals.
. God has given us the ability to create life, this amazing gift comes with choices and consequences. The decision to start a family can be exciting. Our loving Father in Heaven has asked that we remain chaste, or save this sacred rite of procreation for marriage alone. When explaining morality to your children make sure you're information is age appropriate. You can discern how much each child needs individually. Your pre-teen may not need as much info as your older teen. Try leading with questions so you can judge what answers your child is looking for, and how much information he needs.
Once out of your mouth, a word can never be taken back. We may apologize for our misspoken words, or words spoken out of anger or haste, but we can't erase them. The words, and language, we use are a direct reflection on our respect for ourselves. A Japanese proverb says, "One kind word can warm three winter months." This is best taught by example. Now is the perfect time to start. Speak softly to your children, this can take great patience sometimes. As we show our children this example, they will come to see for themselves that kind words can move mountains just as harsh words can crumble bridges.
Nelson said, "...each day is a day of decision, and our decisions determine our destiny. One day each of us will stand before the Lord in judgment. We will each have a personal interview with Jesus Christ. We will account for decisions that we made about our bodies, our spiritual attributes and how we honored God’s pattern for marriage and family."
Talking to your children on a regular basis about these subjects can be very rewarding and establish a trusting relationship between you and your children.
Help your family make the commitment to treat their bodies with the respect they deserve as beautiful creations of God. Use its beauty and power to create, serve, love and nurture others wisely.