Nurturing moral values

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Thomas Kulanjiyil, PsyD, PhD, is a founding member of PARIVAR International. He currently serves on the faculty of College of DuPage. He is co-editor of the book, “Caring for the South Asians-Counseling South Asians in the West.” Dr. Kulanjiyil can be reached at tk@parivarinterntional.org. For any personal or family issues contact Parivar Family Helpline:(877)-743-5711.

By Thomas Kulanjiyil
A painful reality of our times is the demolition of moral systems and structures. While this is true about most societies these days, this is especially true about North America where we live and raise our children. Moral boundaries that establish and strengthen healthy bonds between persons are simply pulled down or crossed over each and everyday.  Parents are losing their moral clout  on children; educational systems are failing to impart ethical values, and religious personnel are losing their personal integrity and social reputation by indulging in morally deplorable acts. Media is rampant with filthy and offensive material. Moral degradation is the greatest of all challenges we confront in society today.

In most cultures, parents, teachers, and religious personnel are considered so-called moral walls. For example, in the traditional Indian society, parents and teachers were highly esteemed for their perceived moral authority. They exercised a positive influence on children in developing virtuous character. Moral development was one of the primary goals of Indian parenting. Moral education was part of the traditional Indian educational system.

Likewise, in the Hebrew tradition, parents were the first and primary moral instructors. King Solomon wrote, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a guard to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” (Proverbs 1:8-9).

We read in the New Testament these instructions, “Children obey your parents in the Lord: for it is right…And you fathers bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6: 1-4).

Xunzi, an ancient Chinese philosopher wrote,” Cooked wood must be heated and bent before it becomes straight. Blunt metal must be ground and whetted before it becomes sharp. Now the nature of man is evil, it must depend on teachers and laws to become correct and achieve propriety and righteousness and then it becomes disciplined. Without teachers and laws, man is unbalanced, off track, and incorrect.”

There are serious consequences to the collapse of moral systems in our society. Children brought up in a home or a society without any clear and firm moral authority and structure will be morally confused, behaviorally challenged, and morally bankrupt. In a morally chaotic world, it would be hard for them to discern right from wrong, good from bad, and just from the unjust. Children make wrong choices and then suffer from their consequences.

Home must be the first training ground for children in their moral development. Parents must provide them a safe and sound environment favorable to character building. Parents must emulate those qualities they are seeking to instill in their children.  In a disintegrating culture, their mandate is to give children a strong and resolute moral foundation.

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