Some Thoughts on Raising Children

“Teach your children well,”
Crosby, Stills and Nash

It’s not easy raising children today.

Although I don’t have kids myself, I learned all about modern child-rearing by observing my best friend and her offspring.

Like when I dropped by and was met at the door by her then-four-year-old daughter.  “Me Butt-head,” she proudly proclaimed, a big smile gracing her face.  It was time for a little talk with the babysitter about what to watch when she’s awake.

Next her nine-year-old son developed a taste for violent video games and X-Men comic books. Whatever happened to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?

This is an age of accelerated human interaction, affording marvelous social and educational opportunities that have never before been available to such large groups of people.  But these opportunities are also introducing serious and threatening challenges to parents everywhere.  Daycare, cable TV, and yes, the Internet all provide exciting avenues for learning and growth.  Unfortunately, they also present the danger of exposure to unusual beliefs, adult fare and the de jure.

So what is a parent to do?

I’d like to share one of the best tips on teaching values I’ve ever heard.  A number of years ago I was attending a collectors’ convention in Southern California.  At that convention, I listened as a talented entertainer/ businessman named C. McNair Wilson (giving credit where credit is due) explained how we should teach our children like the U.S. Government trains its Treasury agents.


According to McNair, when being trained how to spot counterfeit currency, each agent is given a crisp, new dollar bill.  The agents-to-be are told “This is genuine.  Study it, examine each feature, memorize every detail.”  They quickly learn what a real bill looks like, and thus can spot fakes by comparing them to what has already been indelibly etched into their memories.

What the agents are not told is “Here is what’s counterfeit, memorize it,” because new batches of bogus bills are exposed with regularity.  So trying to remember the current counterfeiting challenge would be a never-ending learning process.  It’s much better to be taught what is genuine once and for all.  Then any type of fake can be revealed for what it really is.

Perhaps this is good advice for raising children, too.  As our kids grow and are exposed to all the world has to offer, they will always be finding new moral and ethical temptations.  Their best weapon will be a strong set of moral values from the beginning.  This way they will always know what is right, what is good, what is real, and will be able to spot the fakes immediately, no matter what form they may take.


C. McNair Wilson’s current website is He has a TED talk on “Recapturing Your Creative Spirit” at


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