One of the wonderful things about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the direction it gives you. Growing up in the church there were some things that never even crossed my mind as a possibility in my life. I made the promise long ago that I would not drink alcohol, use “recreational” drugs, or do countless other things that are contrary to the commandments of God. I have had my own set of struggles and temptations but there are so many decisions that I didn’t have to worry and stress about because the decision had already been made.
Wendy Nelson has written a book to help your children make that decision as well. The Not Even Once Club is the story of Tyler, the new kid in town who is excited to make new friends with his primary class. He meets his fellow classmates at their clubhouse where they explain to him the rules for being a part of the club and test his resolve. Tyler proves equal to the task and gladly joins the “Not Even Once” club.
Brandon Dorman’s illustrations are, as always, amazing.
I found this story delightful. My children would ask for this story over and over for our family worship time. They enjoyed the pictures and yelling “NOT EVEN ONCE” along with the children of the story. It’s one thing to teach your children the Word of Wisdom and quite another to have them make the decision themselves. The Not Even Once Club can help young children see what it looks like to make those commitments. Most young children don’t think about that kind of thing and it doesn’t take much peer pressure for their resolve to waiver (I imagine part of the reason I did so well was because my friends were few and far between). Pressure to smoke, drink alcohol, cheat, and steal were all things that I expected to be issues in high school, and while I was never tempted I was surrounded by those who did those things with impunity. While I think it can be universally accepted among devout Christians that those types of activities are frowned upon (to say the least) there are a few other things that are much more exclusive to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I remember the first time I saw a fellow student using coffee to help her get through the day. Coffee is by no means the most shocking of inappropriate substances for our young people today, but the tender young age of seventeen I was still disappointed that my peers would take on adult “habits” at still so young an age. I had, in my naiveté, thought that smelling coffee on the breath of my peers was something I wouldn’t have to worry about for at least a decade more.
This is not a book that can replace meaningful parental discussion on those issues. You will still need to teach your children why you think those types of activities are against our Father in Heaven’s commands (and that is the way it should be). The Not Even Once Club is an excellent way to introduce the subject as well. I have taught my children the commandments of God, but now when they are faced with that decision they have a story to come back to and remind them why it’s important to stay strong, hold to the rod, and never stray… not even once.
**Edit** I have noticed that a few parents are concerned that this book in somehow contrary to the Atonement. I understand why you think that but I completely disagree. Repentance is real and the Atonement is a wonderful and necessary gift to us. We will all make mistakes and would be completely lost without it. That being said, we are told “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.” We all know it’s impossible for we humans to be perfect, but there are a few things in which perfection IS possible. It IS possible to be perfect with the Word of Wisdom. It IS possible to be perfectly chaste. It IS possible never to steal and never to cheat. Just because we embrace the atonement doesn’t mean we can’t teach our children to aim for following these commandments with perfection.