Truly, some of the worst moments in life are those times when, standing in front of a mirror, you have a hard time meeting your own eyes in the reflection; those times you think, “God, I wish I hadn’t of done that.”
The feelings those regrettable actions bring up inside you, in your secret place, are just plain wicked; feelings of shame, guilt, regret and self-loathing. These feelings, if they occur often enough, will eventually erode your self-esteem and create a negative reality.
How do we, as parents, teach our children to lessen these occurrences? How do we ensure that our children reach adulthood able to face themselves in the mirror, with a clear conscience, as they gaze into their own windows of the soul?
As the guardians of our children’s young hearts and minds it is imperative that we teach them that, as Aristotle pointed out, “our habits make all the difference”. In order that they may develop into admirable adults, the overwhelming influence of the bad and the ugly, so prevalent in today’s society, must be negated by the good. By the daily observation of what William J. Bennett refers to as “successful everyday behavior”, our children receive their primary instruction in self-control and discipline. Reading the collection of tales, fables and anecdotes in Bennett’s, The Book of Virtues, to your young children will illustrate and emphasize your own “successful everyday behavior” while teaching them Lincoln’s truth: “when I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad”.
As parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family friends of our youngest generation, we all should remember that “home is the first place where boys and girls first learn how to limit their wishes, abide by rules, and consider the rights and needs of others” (Sidonie Gruenberg).