Instructing children on math and reading is not an easy task, but teaching them morals is an altogether different playing field. One of the most difficult elements involved in teaching morals is that no single right answer exists. Morals will vary based on culture and personal preferences, so it is wiser for the parents to take on this task instead of educators. Teaching a child to exercise his own moral reasoning may prove invaluable to his development.
Cheating on a Test
John, who is in the fourth grade, has been doing poorly on his spelling tests. His parents have threatened to pull him out of the soccer team if he doesn't improve. John knows that the girl who sits beside him always gets 100 percent on her tests, and he is considering peeking at her paper during the next test so that he can continue to play soccer. Help your child view all perspectives, such as the school's cheating policy, that this is unfair to the girl who studied, and how John might be hurting himself in the process of cheating.
"Betraying" a Friend to Help Her
Janet is a sophomore in high school, and she is concerned that her friend Beth has anorexia. She has watched Beth lose a lot of weight over the past year, skipping lunches and sometimes taking pills between classes. Janet is worried that Beth may end up in the hospital, but her parents seem to be in denial that there is a problem. Should Janet reach out to an adult at school and risk making her friend angry with her? Help your child to brainstorm on what she believes a true friend would do in this situation.
Sticking Up for Others
Nicky, a fifth-grade student, was really touched by a lesson her teacher gave on how the words we use affect our perceptions of the world. She now realizes how wrong it is to use words like "gay" and "retarded" in a derogatory manner because it is cruel to gay people and individuals with disabilities. She feels uncomfortable every time her friends use these words, but she is afraid of speaking out against them. Should she say something? Ask your child what she thinks the right thing to do would be.
Lying to Get an Undeserved Reward
Kyle's parents told him that if he were able to maintain a good GPA and stay out of drugs throughout high school, they would buy him a car as a graduation present. Although he has managed to keep his grades up, Kyle has been smoking pot every day before school since his junior year. Now that his parents are about to buy him a car, he is starting to feel guilty. Should he tell his parents the truth or let them buy the car? Brainstorm with your child about the different options Kyle has and what he might do in the situation.
Ashley Schaeffer has been writing professionally since 2005, specializing in arts-and-entertainment, health and wellness topics. She has written extensively for "Buzzine Magazine," the culture and entertainment publication of Richard Elfman. Schaeffer holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in comparative literature and Spanish, both from UC Berkeley, and is pursuing a master's degree in counseling psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies.