Raising Ethical and Moral Children

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Of all the roles in parenting, no part is as important as raising children with good values. As parents, we may hope our children are good athletes, achieve in school, are artistically talented, or good looking, but nothing is as important as their moral behavior. If our children are not good, honest, self-disciplined, kind, hard-working people, then their humanity is diminished. Parents need to respect children and require respect in return. Discipline must be respectful and model the restraint, gentleness, and fairness we expect of our children. As children get older, we need to ask for and consider their opinions when setting rules and consequences. These past ten years might as well go down in history as the “Decade of Moral Erosion.” Wall Street “leaders,” politicians, celebrities, and even the clergy and their parade of unethical acts were continual news stories. The Internet became scarier;TV featured more casual sex and vulgarity; political and corporate scandals became raunchier and more public; video games became even cruder; music lyrics were ruder; movies were often steamier and more violent. And if that isn’t enough, data shows that those ethical infractions are impacting the kids. Their social scene is even meaner and more aggressive. Bullying has not only intensified but is also no longer limited to playgrounds. Cyberbullying is the hot new craze. According to Good Kids, Tough Choices, “A Boys and Girls Club of America survey of 46,000 teens confirmed by their own reports that peer pressure is fiercer. Drinking, shoplifting, cheating, lying, stealing, and sexual promiscuity have not only increased but are also hitting our kids at younger ages” (Rushworth, 2010). These really are scary times to raise kids. We need to nurture a solid moral core that will guide our kids to stand up for their beliefs and act right even without us. Children can learn the core virtues and skills of strong character and moral courage even when they are toddlers. The following characteristics help promote moral development: •honest and trustworthy

faithful and loyal
hard-working, responsible, and self-disciplined
kind, with concern for their fellow human beings
independent, able to resist the pressure of the crowd
generous, giving, and selfless
loving, empathetic, sensitive, and tolerant
friendly, helpful, cheerful, and gentle
concerned for justice, and respectful of legitimate authority, rules, and laws •respectful of themselves and the rights of others
respectful of life, property, nature, elders, and parents •courteous, polite, having good manners
fair in work and play
merciful and forgiving, understanding the futility of holding a grudge •service oriented, willing to contribute to family, friends, community, country, religious organizations, and school •courageous

peaceful, calm, and serene
Children develop morality slowly, and in stages. These stages have their foundation in a secure attachment and basic trust, beginning in the preschool years and continuing to develop even in the adult years. Each stage has its own theory and idea of what is good and right and different reasons why people should be good. Each stage brings a person closer to mature moral development. Treating kids with respect means treating them like persons, being fair with them, relating to them at their level, and making some allowances for the immaturity of their developmental stage. It means giving kids the feeling that you're trying to consider their point of view. Since morality is a two-way street, we can require respect in return from our children. We can insist on courtesy and expect consideration. We can require in firm, unmistakable ways, the special respect that is due us as parents and caretakers and the simple respect that is due every human being. One of the surest ways to help our children turn their moral reasoning into positive moral behavior is to teach by example. Teaching kids...
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