Friday, July 11, 2014

Ordinary Heroes

In my last post I said I would talk about how sometimes when we make a choice to do something that is good, something bad happens to us. The boy in the story in the previous blog was punished for helping someone because helping someone made him late for class. I believe he was a hero. That doesn't seem fair to be a hero and have a bad consequence. When our children were growing up we had this conversation all the time about what is fair and what isn't and why, etc. etc. The quote I chose from "A World Without Heroes" talks about heroes who made the right choice, but had bad things happen to them.
"My final hero tells us that life can be what it should be. It is a person who does not fit the heroic mold at all, and from whom, perhaps, we should least expect great or heroic deeds. This hero has been with us all along, and discharges his duty without giving a second thought to fashionable theories of the times It could be anybody. It could be you. 'Ordinary' people do heroic things every day that are simply unthinkable to the anti-hero conception of lie. And we all know it. How else would we recognize Mother Teresa as a saint? J.R.R. Tolkien understood our extraordinary powers well in creating the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Hobbits, he said, 'are made small...mostly to show up, in creatures of very small physical power, the amazing and unexpected heroism of ordinary men 'at a pinch.' "
"My witness could be Lenny Skutnik. He may be the best known of my 'ordinary' heroes because his heroism-indeed 'amazing and unexpected'- was shown on television. You remember: the man who dove into the icy Potomac to rescue a survivor of an airplane crash a few years ago. It could be the man in that same crash who gave his life to be sure that rescuers picked up all the other survivors first. It could be the small boy who saved his father's life by lifting an automobile under which the man was pinned and dying. I think of the three-year-old who, instead of fleeing, went upstairs in a burning house to wake and save his mother. The young football pro who went to the aid of youngsters floundering in a gravel pit, knowing full well he himself could barely swim. He drowned. The paperboy who braved an inferno to lead an elderly woman to safety. He survived, but suffered serious burns."
All heroes have to make a choice between helping others or thinking of themselves. Those mentioned in the paragraph above all chose to help others. The boy in the story in my last blog chose to help. He knew he would be late, but he chose to help.
That is what my "Little Hero Hugs" are all about. I want to help parents to teach their children that they can be heroes at home. They get praise and are able to wear their "Hug" when they choose to help in their home, or wherever they are really. If we could grow a generation of children that choose to help others and think of others before themselves, we would soon have grown men and women who are heroes. There is no telling what changes for good can come from a generation full of heroes!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Bringing Up Moral Children" by A. Lynn Scoresby

This post is about the importance of teaching our children morality. After my husband and I had been parenting for quite a few years, we realized that we didn't know what we were doing. We realized that we needed help. We searched and read, prayed and read some more. Finally we came across a most amazing book that changed our lives, and I am sure it changed the lives of our children for the better.

I am telling you all this because of all the books that my husband read, by far the best book was, "Bringing Up Moral Children" by A. Lynn Scoresby.  It is an amazing book and we used it all the time. We still use the principles in our everyday dealings with people, and of course, with our children and grandchildren.

In the book, Dr. Scoresby teaches how to teach morality to our children using principles. We learned the principles first and then we could teach them and incorporate them into our everyday lives. One story that had a huge impact on me was about a boy, I will say he was about 12 years old. This boy had been getting to class late and this was becoming a real problem. The parents had a talk with the boy and they worked out a plan so that he could get to class on time. In order to get to class on time the boy would have to go a different route to his class. He would have to go a back way around some buildings that weren't as crowded as the way he had been going to class. The plan worked and he had gotten to class on time a number of times. One day as he was going this back way, he saw a boy being bullied. He had to decide if he should stop, help the boy and be late, or go on, not help the boy and make sure that he wasn't late to class. (This is my version of the story. Sorry, Dr. Scoresby, if this isn't exactly right.) The boy did the right thing, he stopped and helped the boy being bullied. He was late to class. He got into trouble from his teacher for being late. But when he told his parents that he had been late to class and why he had done what he did, they praised him for his correct choice. (Note, the boy was still in trouble for being late to class. There was a seemingly bad consequence even for this correct choice. I will talk about this more in the next post.)

As I have been telling my version of Dr. Scoresby's story, I noticed how the parents talk to the child. They talked to him and helped him come up with a plan to make it to class on time. They took the time to hear their son explain why he had been late on the day he helped the other boy. It then became a perfect teaching moment. Had they not talked and worked out solutions together, this might not have had a good outcome. The parents might have seen the report from the teacher about their son being late to class, gotten angry and grounded him. I learned from the book that you take opportunities to teach your children. Always be looking for opportunities to teach. Natural consequences for behavior teach very well, but you need to talk to the child so that the child understands that their decision caused the consequence. That is just one of the many things I took away from that great book.

I could talk about "Bring Up Moral Children" all day, but I need to get to the quote of the day from "A World Without Heroes."
"Sarti is right. The moral relativism that saturates modern thought can produce neither heroes nor happiness. 'A man who bows down to nothing,' Dostoevsky observed, 'can never bear the burden of himself.' So too with nations. No civilization has ever arisen except on a religious basis, and none can maintain itself except as it is informed by absolute morality. It is faith held in common that civilizes, that holds men's animal self-interest at bay, and shapes a just law and community. Such freedom and security as we still enjoy are readily traced to the Judeo-Christian foundations of the West. But the central faith must be constantly guarded and renewed, not least by heroism, lest the bonds between men dissolve....The hero bespeaks these facts. He emerges only in that healthy community based on an objective moral order, and he in turn, by deed and symbol, replenishes its spiritual strength. We cannot evoke or even recognize heroism without a common faith."
"The absent hero is thus a symptom of a paralyzing moral division in America. If our knight rode out and slew a dragon, half the editorials the next day would brand him 'insensitive' if not an outright warmonger, and remind us that dragons are on the endangered species list. If we cannot agree that dragons are evil we will have no dragon fighters. Unhappy the country that loses its moral bearings!"
"A World Without Heroes," pages 7-8.

I wish "Bringing Up Moral Children" were still in print!