Teaching children by how you treat your spouse

Published: Thursday, Feb. 14 2013 5:05 a.m. MST

Steurer said it's important to let children see that mother has a voice in the home. Defer to her, counsel with her and show gratitude for what she does for the family, he said. Let them see you "valuing and appreciating the ideas and thoughtful suggestions that she contributes to the family matters,” Steurer said.

Brad Wilcox, an author, BYU professor and former LDS mission president, is an advocate of openly showing affection toward his wife in front of their children.

"I want them to see how important it is to communicate love, to hug, to kiss. Physical love is not bad," Wilcox said. "Teenagers think it is embarrassing if Mom and Dad kiss, but they like it. ... They can learn from a movie with a couple that is not married, or they will learn it at home with a couple that is married. They will see the difference that one is wholesome, pure and good, while the other is degrading and dehumanizing."

In his April 2011 general conference address, Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve described the joy that comes from a marriage where mutual love and respect exist. Elder Scott said his late wife, Jeanene, often slipped affectionate notes into his scriptures. She also safeguarded his written expressions of love for her. He encouraged men to express love and gratitude for their wives often.

“Pure love is an incomparable, potent power for good. Righteous love is the foundation of a successful marriage. It is the primary cause of contented, well-developed children,” Elder Scott said. “It is so rewarding to be married.”


In his 2005 general conference discourse, “Constant Truths for Changing Times,” LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson counseled parents to “help your sons learn manners and respect for women and children.”

Manning said, “Respect for women and men hinges upon basic manners, courtesies and core beliefs.”

Steurer is a fan of being “old-fashioned.” In his family, women eat first and the boys go last. The men also make sure to open doors for women.

“We do things to elevate the women in our lives, to let them know these girls are ... special. It’s our job to make sure they are taken care of first,” Steurer said. “Those are things a father can model with his wife on an ongoing basis, and I think children pick up on that more than anything.”

Media choices

Much of what our young people are learning about gender roles and how men and women interact is coming from the media, Manning said.

“Do we show tolerance of any kind to violence or immoral themes that denigrate and show disrespect toward men or women?” she said. “When we teach them that’s not a show, magazine or website I will support … that’s a powerful message.”

Kids will notice what their father reads or watches, Steurer said. Is he changing the channel when something inappropriate comes on? Does he discuss it with his children or does he go silently and imply he is OK with it? Or does he have the courage to express his values?

“To me, that is an opportunity missed way too often by dads,” Steurer said. “He doesn’t have to be preachy or self-righteous, he just needs to let him know where his values stand. I think those things say a lot about how he feels about women.”

In situations where it's impossible to avoid inappropriate media, Wilcox used to tell his missionaries to "look at her eyes."

"When it's in front of their faces, I would say lift your gaze. Don't see body parts, look up and see her eyes because that's where the real person lives," Wilcox said. "I tell the girls, don’t dress in a way that will pull anyone’s attention away from your eyes."


Did you know that in American culture, practically every swear word is rooted in disrespect and violence toward our bodies or women?

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