In 1892, British playwright Oscar Wilde wrote, “The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” A hundred years later, Octavio Paz wrote, “We’ve raised an entire generation of children who know everything about prices, and nothing about values.” Both of these men were addressing a rampant current in society at the time…
Basically, the assertion is that our children know the price of that pair of NIKE Tennis shoes they have on their feet. They just don’t realize that somewhere a cow had to die in order to provide the leather to construct them. They don’t realize that the footwear was made in a Chinese sweatshop by children younger than themselves. They don’t understand that you had to work a certain number of hours in order to pay for those shoes. Consequently, they don’t value the shoes, the leather they are made from, the work of the children who produced them, or your efforts to attain them. They do however, know how much they cost.
The rub here is: knowing how much something costs, doesn’t translate into knowing what it’s worth.
Values are those characteristics that set people apart from the multitude, they are what gives a person “worth.” Your parents and your grandparents knew that values begin at home. They took you to church, washed your mouth out with soap, and popped you on the bottom when you needed it.
If values are important to you, and you are important to your child, the values will also be important to your child.
You are your child’s inherent truths.
Keep in mind that children learn more from what they see, than from what you tell them.
When you think of the character traits that make someone “a person of worth,” words like honesty, integrity, loyalty, humility, respectfulness, responsibility, cooperativeness, faithfulness, persistence, and diligence come to mind.
Do your children think these are these values are important to you? In your evening conversations with your child, do you ever ask her what she thinks about some of the things she tells you about her friends and classmates?
As parents, we often let our children hear our everyday conversations with our spouses, our friends and our parents. Unfortunately, our adult communication is often centered on finances, products and services. We speak openly about most things, and don’t feel the need to “hide” things from our children, and we shouldn’t. One of the most important things that we shouldn’t hide from our children is the importance of what our parents called “virtues.”
Do you know what kinds of values your children have? Do they have your set of values? Do you have your parents’ values?
Somehow, we expect our children to just “know” that it is important to be honest, to be responsible, to have integrity…
These values don’t just get instilled in our children from the television shows that they watch, anymore than they are gotten through osmosis…it is our job to instill values in our children. It is the goal of our educational system to teach knowledge and skills. Values and virtues have to begin at home.
When we were young, our parents told us or read us stories about George Washington and the cherry tree, Aesop’s fables, the race between the tortoise and the hare, and parables from the Bible. There was a reason for this. Maybe it’s what their parent’s did. Maybe it’s because it was easier to read you the story than have a discussion with a 5 or 6 year old. Maybe it’s because they’ve been tested.
Raise children who become adults “of worth.”
It worked for your parents. It worked for you. It will work for your kids.
(If you are thinking that you’d like to begin to do this, but don’t know where to start…looking for a collection to read to your kids is as easy as logging onto the internet and looking up fables, parables, and stories with a moral…or you could just pick up a copy of William Bennett’s Book of Virtues… I spied one at the Half Price Bookstore in Lewisville last Friday for $6.98…)