Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Be good for goodness sake

I was raised to be good so that I wouldn't burn in hell.  If I stepped out of line, I knew there'd be consequences (spanking, grounding, withdraw of privliges) so I toed the line, for the most part.  But now as a parent I'm trying to raise my kids to do the right thing because it's the right thing to do.

It's not easy because I stay away from typical tricks -- bribes, rewards, threats and punishments because they don't teach kids self discipline. These methods teach kids to conform for fear of reprisal or because they expect some material gain from doing what's expected of them.  I won't always be there to hang something over them, nor will society.  Plus I want to learn that being a decent person is it's own reward.  So when I come across examples of using reason and logic to teach kids morals, I was blown away.  Take this example:
  • To explain why cheating in school is wrong, in addition to saying that it's damaging to your character and that you can no longer look at yourself as an honest person, you could say that in the long run it's bad for everyone because grades mean less and teachers won't be able to assess who needs help and who should advance.  Ahhhhhhh.  This explanation makes perfect sense, but it's not second nature for me to think this way, especially on the spot. 
Sadly, phrases like 'Because I said so' are still in my repertoire.  Here's hoping I can start to apply this kind of reasoning to my parenting dialog!