I have attended institute classes taught by S. Michael Wilcox (phenomenal teacher) and one illustration in particular really caught my attention.
He talked about cows and how they love the fence lines. They will graze at the fence lines until there is no more grass then they'll work their heads through the barbed wire fences so they can reach the grass outside the fence. Soon the grass immediately outside the fence is gone so they have to lean against the fence to get the grass a little further out. Eventually they will end up knocking over the fence. He said the interesting thing about this is even when the fence is completely down, the cows will not cross that barrier. The young calves, on the other hand, are a different story. They will cross the fence, wander off, and get lost. That's why ranchers are constantly mending fences.
He likened this to us. If we as parents are constantly pushing the boundaries, chances are good that our children will cross them. Safety is found in the center of our lands. I think this is mostly true.
In my early married years, I absolutely LOVED football so I watched the pro games on Sunday. I found reasons to justify it. I have since repented and try to do more appropriate Sabbath activities. However, I am generally unhappy with my children's choice of Sunday activities (lots of TV, computer games, etc). I now wonder if I had stayed in the "center of my land" if my children would now choose better things to do on the Sabbath.
On the other hand, my aunt asked me in December how Kevin and I got Brakston to go to the temple so often. I didn't know the answer. Then in January Brakston and I were in the temple and saw a "friend" of his from school who was taking out his own endowments. Brakston went to speak to him but came back almost immediately. He said his "friend" was upset and was not ready to be in the temple. I asked Brakston why he thought he'd been prepared. He said he thought it was just because Kevin and I attend the temple so frequently and my parents work there so he went in expecting to love it and have it be important to him. Maybe this is an example of my actually staying put in the "center of my land."
All of that said, I still don't believe it is always true. Children still have their free agency. Parents can do everything right and stay in the "center of the land" and their children can still cross the fence, wander off, and get lost. It is probably just more likely that if parents are pushing the boundaries and trying to see how close to "bad" they can get that their children will be worse.
This gives me incentive to examine my actions more closely. Am I pushing boundaries or playing it safe? What kind of example am I setting for my children?
5 days ago