Teach chil­dren by ex­am­ple

LET­TERS, FAXES & EMAIL New Year, ‘New Cul­ture’; Par­ents, Stu­dents In Joint Ef­fort –

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - The Courts -

DAILY NA­TION, Tues­day, Septem­ber 5, 2017

WE WANT OUR CHIL­DREN to flour­ish, to live well and fare well – to be happy.

Hap­pi­ness, as Aris­to­tle long ago pointed out, re­sides in ac­tiv­ity, both phys­i­cal and men­tal. It re­sides in do­ing things that one can take pride in do­ing well, and hence that one can en­joy do­ing.

It is a great mis­take to iden­tify en­joy­ment with mere amuse­ment or re­lax­ing or be­ing en­ter­tained. Those who have missed the joy of work, of a job well done, have missed some­thing very im­por­tant. This ap­plies to our chil­dren, too.

How do we help pre­pare our chil­dren for lives like that? As al­ways, the keys are prac­tice and ex­am­ple: prac­tice in do­ing var­i­ous things that re­quire a level of ef­fort and en­gage­ment com­pat­i­ble with some per­sonal in­vest­ment in the ac­tiv­ity, and the ex­am­ples of the adults in their own lives.

The first step in do­ing things is learn­ing how to do them. Good habits of per­sonal hy­giene, and help­ing with meals or bed-mak­ing or laun­dry or car­ing for pets, or any other such house­hold chores, all re­quire learn­ing. All can be done well or poorly. All can be done cheer­fully and with pride, or grudg­ingly and with dis­taste. And which way we do them is re­ally up to us. It is a mat­ter of choice. That is per­haps the great­est in­sight that the an­cient Ro­man Sto­ics cham­pi­oned for hu­man­ity. There are no me­nial jobs, only me­nial at­ti­tudes. And our at­ti­tudes are up to us.

Par­ents show their chil­dren how to en­joy do­ing the things that have to be done by work­ing with them, by en­cour­ag­ing and ap­pre­ci­at­ing their ef­forts, and by the wit­ness of their own cheer­ful and con­sci­en­tious ex­am­ple. And since the pos­si­bil­i­ties for happy and pro­duc­tive lives are largely opened up for youth by the qual­ity and ex­tent of their ed­u­ca­tion, par­ents who work most ef­fec­tively at pro­vid­ing their off­spring with what it takes to lead flour­ish­ing lives take ed­u­ca­tion very se­ri­ously.

Work is ef­fort ap­plied to­wards some end. The most sat­is­fy­ing work in­volves di­rect­ing our ef­forts to­wards achiev­ing ends that we our­selves en­dorse as wor­thy ex­pres­sions of our tal­ent and char­ac­ter.

Vol­un­teer ser­vice work, if it is gen­uinely vol­un­tary and ex­er­cises our tal­ents in pro­vid­ing needed ser­vice, is typ­i­cally sat­is­fy­ing in this way. The youth need ex­pe­ri­ence of this kind of work. Per­haps so do we all.

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