We recently found a news article about a Mormon mom who paid her children $10,000 to not kiss before they were 18. Our reaction was mixed, to say the least.
We can see a few pros and a few cons.
Let us start by saying that we understand that parenting is a difficult stewardship, and trying to teach high standards in a world of mixed messages and bad influences is even more difficult. So the end result of this mom's bribing tactic is still the right end result, even if the means are out of the ordinary. The children grow up having high standards and striving to keep themselves free from seriously dating in their teen years—something that For the Strength of Youth discourages.
But there's something else about this that makes us nervous.
First, we feel like when we pay our kids to do something, like clean their room or get good grades, we're trying to reinforce a behavior. In paying kids not to kiss, what are we saying about kissing? Is that a message we really want to send to our kids? By no means are we advocating make-out sessions, heavy petting, or other sexual behaviors--but by banning even a quick peck, we're not helping our children understand the important role of physical relationships. We make them seem dirty and bad, not special and sacred.
Which brings us to our second point: do the ends justify the means?
Isn't there a better way to teach teenagers about self control and sexual purity? Teaching principles from For the Strength of Youth (which counsels, "Before marriage, do not participate in passionate kissing...") is an important way to teach youngsters to stay pure and virtuous. Parents are encouraged to teach their children correct principles and then let them govern themselves.
But what if that doesn’t work? Is paying an exorbitant amount of money—$10,000 to be exact—the best way to get through to your child? It’s a difficult question to answer, and the answer will certainly change for every parent according to every child.
So what do you think? What lengths have you had to resort to in order to teach your children correct principles? What worked and what didn’t?
All we can say is that we wish our parents had come up with that idea while we were in high school. Some of us would have been an easy $10,000 richer by the time we hit college. Just sayin’.