Wednesday, January 23, 2013

10 Before 10 - Morality & Ethics

Morality & Ethics

What do you believe? How do you live your daily life in relation to others? These are important questions for self-reflection that all parents should consider because our children are learning daily what we believe even if we're not purposely teaching them.

This is a difficult subject for many parents because we often have undefined beliefs ourselves, or we may feel inadequate in our ability to explain what we believe to our children. Sometimes without even realizing it we may rely a little too much on our religious institutions, schools and society to teach our kid's what "right and wrong" is. This may work some of the time, but it often sets a child up for confusion.

Mixed Messages

We live in a very diverse society where a wide variety of beliefs and values coexist, but not always harmoniously. In order for your child to navigate through this eclectic collage
of belief systems they need a simple and strong base for understanding basic human values and ethics. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a good start, but this still lacks clarity in a world of mixed messages. The most important thing we can do as parents is become clear about our own beliefs and values, and make sure that we are not giving our children mixed messages by living contrary to what we are telling them.

You are your child's first base for understanding human values and ethics. They may go on to learn other things in school or from society, but your family belief system, how you live your daily life, how you treat each other, how you view the world and treat others has a far reaching imprint one way or another. It is beneficial for children to have clear rules and guidelines that they can follow because this helps them feel safe, know how to behave, and allows them to focus on other areas of learning.

Universal Guidelines

I can't tell anyone what they should believe or how they should practice their beliefs, that's your personal choice. However their are some guiding principles in relation to raising children that most people would agree form the basics of "good" morality and ethics. Following is an outline of some basic principles that parents can use or adapt according to their own specific beliefs.
  1. Respect Yourself
    • Take care of yourself
    • Educate Yourself
    • Become your best self through discipline & practice
    • Learn from your mistakes
    • Be patient with your self
  2. Respect Others
    • Practice Kindness
    • Practice Compassion
    • Don't gossip or speak falsly about others
    • Don't violate the rights, property or privacy of others
    • Respect the family values & religious beliefs of others
  3. Honor your family and background
    • Take pride in your family heritage & beliefs
    • Be respectful of your race, ethnicity, culture or nationality
    • Act as a representative of the people you come from
  4. Be Grateful
    • Focus on the good, the beauty and the love that exists in the world
    • Appreciate what you have
    • See life as your opportunity to do something of value, or to contribute the good in yourself to this world
  5. Be Responsible
    • Do what needs to be done
    • Take care of the people and things in your life
    • Use money, time & resources wisely
    • Don't take what is not yours
  6. Consider how your actions might affect others before you act 
    • Will my words or actions hurt someone?
    • Is this action in everyone's best interest?
    • How might my actions affect the future?
    • Who will benefit from my actions?
    • What options do I have, or who can I ask for advise?
  7. Be honest with yourself and with others
You can use this list as a reference to help you express your beliefs during those "teachable moments" as your child is growing up. With a background in these 7 basic principles your child will be better prepared to withstand peer-pressure, and make meaningful choices as a teenager and young adult.

Was this helpful? Is there anything you would add to this list?

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