Sunday, December 5, 2010

“The Twelve Blessings (and One in Disguise) of Childhood

The Second Blessing:  Virtue 

by guest writer: Amber Greene, Mama Moontime

As a child grows up, they are enmeshed in a social fabric that weaves around them.  Parents play the part of the Unit Commander, holding taut the foundation threads that stand like guards around a fort. The horizontal threads are woven by culture, social norms, friendship groups and questionable judgements in a wave like manner, travelling forwards and backwards as though the mind is not quite made up. 

Virtue is the role of moral goodness, concerned with the child’s developing character.  Their ability to tell right from wrong, to sometimes make the harder choice or take the high road, and their strength to act upon their chosen path with conviction, regardless of peer pressure or the need to be liked. 

Virtuous habits are learned through the lessons of life. Just as it takes a solid month to take possession of a new healthy habit such as exercising or eating salad for dinner or restricting chocolate to weekends only, so too it takes continuous repetition or exposure to good quality influence for the new thoughts and actions to take effect.  As parents, it is our job to grab hold of role models of excellence and to share stories of boldness and greatness.  Children need to believe that the path to victory is open to them too, never more so than when they are enticed with a poisonous apple.  A virtuous character shines an inner light which illuminates the way forward and also exposes the shady characters that lurk behind dark walls.

Sharing stories or incidents is one way to till virtuous soil so it becomes moist and rich and teeming with life.  A story can free the heart of tangled emotion.  Unlike an instruction or a dry statement of intent, stories, over time, help to place choice back into the palms of the child.  Feeling heard and free, there is no need for them to react against a heavy load. Instead they feel entitled to be a part of the decision making and character construction in their life, usually with positive results.  Some Grimm’s and Aesop’s stories are useful, easy to understand tales of virtuous choice and consequence.  This can be an easy place to start, however stories of your own making, including stories from those near and dear to you, play just as an important role.   The layers of story and incident act as a rich and varied selection of thread colours from which the child makes their own character designs.  

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