How to Develop Outstanding Children

by Robert John Stevens, November 21, 2016

Neal Harmon the CEO of VidAngel brought his wife Trisha and their seven children over last night for dinner. Their children are young, pleasant and very, very smart. Neal emailed me today, thanked us and wrote, “Your greatest success by far is your family Robert. I have so much to learn from you.”

I too wondered what they must do to have such outstanding children. Being a father of seven, here’s my list of what I’ve discovered to be correct:

  1. Be present, not absent
  2. Don’t just be their parent, truly like and play with them!
  3. Whenever they want to talk to you, stop whatever you are doing and give them your full, undivided attention. That can be difficult, especially when you are studying or focusing on your business, but it is absolutely essential.

    Don’t just act like you’re hearing them—truly listen and understand them. After receiving just a few minutes of your time they are usually satisfied.

  4. Never tell your children they are dumb or stupid; instead, always tell them they’re smart or brilliant!
  5. Do not subscribe to TV channels at home, do not watch TV sports, read to your children daily especially before going to bed, and make frequent trips to the library where they will choose their own literary treasures.
  6. Show your kids high contrast. For example, if you want to motivate them to attend a great college, first take them to a dumpy college and then take them to the outstanding college. Showing high contrast is essential and something most parents fail to do.
  7. Don’t impose your interests or unmet goals on your children; instead, guide them to discover their unique talents and interests.
  8. Always introduce your kids to others as if they’re your most prized possessions—which they are.
  9. Husbands, deflect all credit to your wife who is probably a saint and the main reason for your success.
  10. Feed your children organic food designed and color-coded by God to nourish. Eat food in its natural state or as close to it as possible. Avoid processed sugars. We use natural honey and coconut sugar as substitutes.
  11. Don’t give your children mind-altering drugs.
  12. Don’t let your children fight. Stop violence immediately but not with violence.
  13. Don’t hit your children but you can scare them and chase after them and turn a tense moment into an adventure.
  14. Don’t let your kids play video games or watch TV. Sunday religious movies and a clean or well-filtered Friday or Saturday night movie are plenty.
  15. Take your kids to many places to stimulate their thinking.
  16. Teach your children high ideals, values and principles including honor, honesty and charity. To do this you must value and pursue those yourself.
  17. Help your children discover their God-given gifts so they may align them with their goals. The sooner they discover them the more likely they will choose the right career.
  18. Admit your mistakes to your spouse and children and apologize sincerely. When I wronged my young children I would tell them to spank me on the rear. They did. It rarely hurt and we all felt better.
  19. Take your children to church, read scriptures together but don’t impose your religion on them. Parents who do often create wayward children.
  20. Don’t spend your time watching or engaged in meaningless activities such as one-way propaganda news, TV sports, or video games, so your children will avoid them.
  21. Treat children as you’d want God to treat you—A child’s view of God will depend on how their father treated them.

Traveling for Work May Lead to Wayward Children

by Robert John Stevens, June 16, 2016

A BYU student named Nathan recently asked if he should take a job that requires up to 35% travel. Here’s my response to him:

Dear Nathan,

Take the job and risk having wayward kids.

If success is measured by how well your kids turn out, whether they love each other and their parents, and if they get accepted to BYU, then I attribute our success to working at home—four of our kids attend BYU and I suspect the rest will too.

The grand secret I learned is that whenever they needed my attention I had to stop whatever I was doing and give them my full attention. In most cases after 30 seconds to two minutes they were satisfied. How will you do that if you are absent?

I’ve also seen kids devastated when dads don’t show up for plays and daddy-donut events.

Go away for 35% of your workweek and/or ignore your kids and you’ll start noticing behavior problems. They and your wife will learn to live without you and you may not like the outcome.

I know Peter Priesthood and Mollie Mormon families who on the surface seem perfect but are devastated by how their kids turned out. The fathers spent much of their time traveling. It just wasn’t worth it and now they can’t repair the damage.

I’m sure it doesn’t always work out so badly for all but why risk it? You’ve heard David O McKay’s quote, “No failure can compensate for failure in the home.”

Work as close to home as possible so you can spend more time with your family. Give them your full attention whenever they need it. Be there for the moments that matter. I’ve heard of nobody on their deathbed who said they wished they traveled more for work.