Values, ethics, and lifestyle choices can't be legislated -- whether by the governing body of a country or the governing body of a household and family. The decision to comply always rests with the individual. Most parents want their children to espouse and practice their ideals and belief systems, including beliefs that are related to religion or spirituality, as these are often the guiding forces behind many people’s ethical views. At the same time, most parents want their children to grow up to be self-reliant adults who can make important life decisions for themselves. Unfortunately, that road doesn't run both ways.
Sometimes parents get lucky and their children turn out to be exactly the way they planned or hoped. But often that’s more an accident than a consequence by design. We simply can’t bend or shape another person -- adult or child -- into our image of perfection. The vast majority of us have enough trouble trying to reach our own goals and overcome our own shortcomings. The futility of trying to attain impossible objectives for ourselves only underscores the pointlessness of attempting to do this for someone else, even if that someone else is your child.
When children live under their parents’ roof, house rules are established and enforced. These might include a range of behaviors that are important to the parents, such as no hitting, yelling, or swearing; no smoking or consuming alcohol; and no meat or other animal products in the house. If children receive an allowance, parents are entitled to put limits on how that allowance is spent, which may mean prohibiting buying or renting violent films, games, or music, or not permitting the money to be used for the purchase of animal products, even if they are consumed outside the boundaries of the house. If teens have a job, however, the money that is not contributed to household expenses or put aside as savings is theirs and should be used for whatever they wish, as long as it doesn't violate the rules of their household. For example, teens may have the right to purchase hamburgers with the money they earn from their job, but their parents have the right to not permit the burgers to be eaten in their home.
Once children are grown and are out on their own, there is little influence or control that parents can impose on their choices. If parents raise their children to respect and appreciate their values, there is a good chance that those values will carry on with the next generation. Still, grown children with perspectives that differ from their parents aren’t necessarily examples of how parents have failed. Instead, they may very well be models of how to successfully raise self-thinking, independent individuals, and that’s something every parent can be proud of.
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