Sunday, May 27, 2012

From where does character come?

From where does character come?

We teach our children to tell the truth, to be fair and just, and not to hurt anyone. No fighting, no bullying, no bad talking about others. We spend years investing in their moral formation, but we often find ourselves in competition with the news, the entertainment industry, and the culture.

Little is learned by words, we've discovered, unless accompanied by actions children can watch or perhaps do themselves.
An interesting study some years ago was inquiring into how children learn. For a group of preschool kids, they showed a brief video of a child punching a stuffed animal. Upon return to the playroom, children found a similar stuffed animal and began to hit it, even using other toys as bludgeons.

We'd like to think that the things on which we spend so much time (TV, movies, ...) have little effect on our behavior and choices. Perhaps that’s naive.

A culture is the sum of it's contents; things we see among us and acknowledge as our own. For instance:
Women often learn their place by experience. Unless it's challenged, it'll stick for a lifetime.

There are so many battles our children will fight. Right thinking about love, life, faith, wealth, generosity, luxury, sacrifice, compassion, violence, ... While they're young, we control what they see and do. And learn. We have the upper hand in their character formation.

And in our own. The choices we're making are still forming ours.