The college admissions scandal rocked the nation and showed us just how far some parents are willing to go to give their children a leg up in life. It also showed that there are times that we forget which values matter most; faith, humility, and service. For those of us with financial or social connections far greater than most people, the urge to place a hand on the scale in your child’s favor can be too strong to resist.
We all want to be able to give our children the best opportunities possible. Many parents have likely asked, where is the moral line between “teaching” and “doing” for our children? While most may ask this when deciding how to intervene on a bad test score, or a sports coach playing favorites, it is a question that comes up often for issues large and small. The college admissions scandal has exposed some parents’ extreme actions, succumbing to incredible greed and hubris in the process.
In March of 2019, we learned some families set aside their morals and values to give their children an unfair edge on college applications. Actresses Lori Loughlin, known for her role as “Aunt Becky” on the popular 90’s television show Full House, and Felicity Huffman, of Desperate Housewives, were arrested and charged in connection with the federal investigation.
Loughlin, together with her husband, allegedly bribed officials in a bid to get their daughters on to a USC sports team for which they had no experience or talent. Reports stated they used their substantial financial and social resources in a bribe of $500,000. Both Loughlin and her husband were charged with conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering.
Huffman was arrested by FBI officers over allegations that she paid a $15,000 bribe for her daughter to take part in the exam for college admission. The exam was termed a scam, and Huffman was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
It’s blatantly clear that these crimes are unfathomable for most people. Nearly all of us lack the financial and social connections to even consider such a massive scam. These actions not only violated moral principles; they were serious federal crimes.
We cannot discount the role ego can play as we seek to guide our children through life. The college admissions scandal is an extreme example but serves as a great lesson for those considering how to help their children.
Faith in God First
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
As any Christian knows, God bestowed us with free will; to choose our actions and what is right or wrong. But, if we value God first above ego and material things, we can look to God for moral guidance. If parents remember to let go of their own self-interest and instead practice faith, they can teach their children to have faith in God, through His Son, Jesus Christ. Faith can then be allowed to enter all of our relationships through love of all people.
Humility is a foundation for Integrity
“If anyone would be first, he must be the last of all and servant of all.”
Humility is the counterbalance to pride and a character trait that acts as a conduit for other virtues, such as integrity. Modesty helps form a contextual foundation that allows a Christian to recognize their own self and submit to God’s grace. Recognizing the omniscience of our creator is what will lead us to live with integrity, acting with honesty and honor to do what’s right in the eyes of God.
“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” —
Service spreads Love, Compassion and Hope
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”
1 Peter 4:10
Had the parents caught in the college admissions scandal practiced service to develop Love, Compassion and Hope, they would have realized that every person has a unique gift to give to the world. Not every child is meant to go to USC or get 1400 on their SAT’s. Obsessing over material things (real or perceived) leads to sin. Often one of the best ways to teach our children is to practice compassionate service projects in our communities. By practicing service, it allows all of us to build our capacity for true love and compassion, leading to Hope that isn’t just some fleeting expectation of fulfillment, but a firm belief in God. Trusting in God and His goodness serves as the anchor for our souls.
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