MISSOURI, August 27, 2014 — Development of character of our children is the basic responsibility of the family unit. A village is not required to develop character; this is a parent’s job. Anyone can bring children into the world, but it takes love and focus to form the child into a responsible man or woman of character. This is the true test of a parent.
Seniors can still remember how decades ago, families instilled in the children the basic rules of society. They did it at home and at church, not abandoning the job to the the village — to the state. How?
First there was the example of the intact family unit: Mom, Dad and the children. From an early age, children were taught to respect adults, to share, to work, to tell the truth, and to accept responsibility. No little “fibs” were accepted; cheating was not acceptable. The work ethic was instilled through chores that were given based on age and ability. The chore had to be performed on time and with an even quality: Make sure the wood is brought into the house before you leave for school; cut the grass before you play; straighten your room before you go outside.
Teamwork was recognized at a very early age. Children who were raised on a farm learned to work on a team to to plant and bring in the harvest. Were they always productive? Not always. A boy might have to help pitch hay from the ground to a wagon, and most of the hay might not make it to the wagon, but the point was to build a work ethic. His parents were raising a man, not just raising hay.
Respect for adults was for respect for your parents, for elders, for teachers and for the law. This helped instill pride and respect for the country and for its institutions.
If parents abandon the teaching of values, someone or something will fill the vacuum. Our children will learn values regardless of what we do, though perhaps not values that will make us proud. They might adopt the values displayed on MTV’s Video Music Awards, on TV sitcoms, in Hollywood movies or by other kids in their schools. They might learn their values from computer games, or from commercials.
If we want to raise children into strong and good men and women, we should look back to some of the teachings of past generations. Life wasn’t perfect then, not all lessons learned were good, but if we want to raise our children higher than ourselves, we will stand on the shoulders of giants. As we teach character, we raise tomorrows leaders who will shape the world.
If we’re going to teach character, we must look back to a time when character did count, when people understood that as you did in small things, you would do in large things. Personal dishonesty could never support public rectitude. So let’s build the character for our future leaders.
Each of us has a positive responsibility to contribute to building character as the opportunities present themselves. Whenever we are around children, we are teaching them, so let us consciously be teachers, role models, correcting as appropriate, lifting up as appropriate, building character by being men and women of character, turning children into responsible human beings.
However, that’s from a time and place I am from.