This is part three of my four part series entitled, “Family Matters.”
2. Being Wise:
The Power of Why
One of the things that motivated me to explore philosophy and religion in university was the fear that someday I’d be unable to answer the following question:
“Daddy, why are we here?”
I knew that that question would someday come and I felt ill equipped to handle it. I know the basic answers presented in the Bible, but I was afraid that my kids would find out that I had a superficial understanding of the New Testament, at best, and that the inevitable follow up “whys” to my questions would become more and more difficult to answer. This frightened me. And it also left me feeling inadequately prepared to raise children. In addition to feeding, clothing and taking care of my kids, I also feel it is my responsibility to instill a sense of purpose in my children.
I somehow feel relieved to know that I am obtaining the skills to either:
- Answer every possible why that my kids can come up with; or
- Sufficiently bore my kids so that they’ll take my word for it and won’t ask any further questions;
Either way, I feel fairly comfortable with the inevitable questions that’ll be coming my way in the next few years.
But more important than this are the numerous moral and ethical decisions that our kids will have to face someday. The complexity heightens as we get older. It starts out with being nice to our friends. No hitting, no pulling hair. It extends to not making fun of the new kid in the class at school and not spreading gossip. As we get older, problems like peer pressure towards sex and drugs become issues for some. As adults, we face extremely complex choices, like the morality of abortion, the rights of convicted criminals or whether or not we should be fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Whatever the case… it’s our responsibility as parents to understand the choices and to be ready with answers and guidance to those under our care. It’s up to us to be wise, because our children certainly aren’t going to obtain their sense of right and wrong from the media or from most of society today. During my undergrad at U of T, I sat through numerous lectures that focused on moral and ethical thought. I appreciate and respect the right for different perspectives, but I’ve gotta tell you… today’s education system isn’t teaching right from wrong. It’s teaching how to understand different points of view. Don’t get me wrong…this is a very important skill. It is important to be able to approach a problem from multiple angles. It is important to be able to empathize with others. But that doesn’t help us to teach our kids whether or not we should discuss the pros and cons of war, abortion or capital punishment. It’s wrong to kill. It shouldn’t matter what the situation is. We shouldn’t kill. It’s that simple.
I didn’t get that message from my philosophy lectures. I got differing worldviews. I got a bunch of “yeah, but what about this or that” types of scenarios. In today’s secular society, nobody is wrong. Everyone just has a “different opinion”. Well… I’ve gotta say, I appreciate different opinions, but there comes a time when the line has to be drawn. And that line has to be drawn by parents and we have to teach our children when to draw the line. Our schools teach critical thinking. I do appreciate that. But it is being left up to us, as parents, to teach our children how to make appropriate moral and value judgments.
It’s up to us as parents to have the wisdom to guide our children until we can impart sufficient wisdom on them so that they can make their own decisions.
And in an increasingly secular world, it is increasingly more important that we pass on our religious traditions to our children.
Coming up next: The 3rd Building Block of a Healthy Family.