Article by Barbara Cornell.
Syndicated from Barbara Cornell’s personal blog.
How do you explain to a child the important things?
Honor, integrity, courage, faithfulness?
Try explaining to a two year old that he should tell the truth because his actions become his habits, and his habits become his character. Frustration will follow. So you show a child that he must tell the truth because if he doesn’t, he will be punished, and you hope that by forming his habits, the growth of his character will follow.
When he is six, you can explain to him that he should share because if he doesn’t no one will share with him and hope that eventually he builds a generous spirit.
Understanding cannot be given directly, it can only be shown from every angle and then left with the hope that the student eventually absorbs it.
As a child grows, his obedience gives way to character.
Obedience is initially given out of fear: Mommy will unhappy if I don’t obey. Mommy’s displeasure feels like she doesn’t love me. If she doesn’t love me, I will be abandoned. If I am abandoned, I die.
With a little maturity, obedience is given out of direct barter: I either gain advantage or avoid punishment by obedience.
Deeper understanding gives obedience out of trust. Experience has shown the reason Mommy instructed the way she did to begin with is that she understood what was best for me, so therefore if she commands something now it must be that there is something she understands that I do not. I will obey out of trust until I understand.
Further maturity brings obedience out of self image. I feel better if I am consistent with my beliefs in what is «right» and «wrong.»
Eventually, a child is able to stand on his own feet and be an independent entity, directing his behavior from character.
I used to think this was «maturity.»
But I see that I reasoned from an immature mind.
Is «independence» the final, fully mature state of man?
It used to ignore the later stages of man, seeing them as decayed, something lesser than the man of «independence.»
Ah, the hubris of youth.
In his truly mature form, man is more childlike than in his medium, independent form. That isn’t to say that he is weaker, although he may be physically. That isn’t to say that he gives up his own self, although he may have to soften his will to accommodate limitation.
It is to say that man, in his fully matured form, relies on the providence (or Providence) of the basis established in his early maturity.
When he is truly mature, man trusts, has a mind untroubled by the necessity of production, unmoved by the need to prove, satisfied that what he has done is enough.
When he is mature, man is content to be happy now, much like a child.
When I grow up, I want to be a child.
«I shall buy satin sandals and say we’ve no money for butter.»
John 21:18 «When you were younger, you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.»
«What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?»