Character, Influence & Children – Part 3

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” said the famous philosopher Maimonides. This truth underscores the need to teach people skills so they may become self-sufficient.

But in a world that esteems the strong and despises the weak; I wonder who will teach our children the skills of compassion and empathy? Is teaching a child how to ‘share and play nice’ all there is for them to know to develop good character? Will it develop their moral reasoning or enhance their social skills?

Just because we as a society are so preoccupied with social media, does that mean we should assume the answers to these questions reside in how well we interact with technology? Does technology have all the answers?

Have you noticed now many elementary age kids have access to mobile technology? Many kids have PDAs, tablets and cell phones and they haven’t promoted up from the 6th grade! Do you think the majority of them have developed the good judgment to use technology responsibly?

Do we really want our kids to learn about morality on the Internet?

Or do we just assume they will learn how to use technology responsibly, with balance and care and interact with their friends to learn how to relate in a way that demonstrates they know how to display compassion and empathy for one another – all on their own…

Oh snap! Better wake up from that dream!

As stated previously, we have a limited window of time to influence them, and if we don’t use that time wisely, if we allow unfettered access to the world’s means and values then we shouldn’t be surprised when they become adults who are so different that what we had hoped they would be…flash back to Columbine…

Adults need to model and teach the skills of moral reasoning and how to behave in ways that affirm the rights and dignity of others. Remember this important point: You are either being influenced, or you are influencing someone. There is no exception to this rule…

This means we must have developed within ourselves and settled the issue for how we will live (and be willing to model that before them). Okay- Here is when my post becomes a sermon: For me, I have decided to follow Christ because I have learned that what he said in the bible, in the book of John (John, chapter 14, verse 6) is true.

He said; “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I have vetted this statement in my life to know it is true by my personal journey through the seemingly inexplicable experiences of my life…

And since I have accepted an obvious higher source to look to for my direction, this allows me the comfort of knowing that I don’t have to rely upon myself for guidance. It is also the comfort of knowing that I don’t have to just rely on what someone previously taught to me because my life’s experiences bear out this truth.

And since that is true for me, it begs the question is it true for all? The answer to that question is found in the book of Acts, Chapter 10, verse 34: ‘Then Peter began to speak: “I know realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism” – NIV.

So yes, everyone can know the truth if they seek Jesus. And he is the example we need to follow for character and morality. These attributes all come from a source higher than us because we are carnal beings. We are truly carnal in our weakness, humanity and in our sin nature.

Our carnal nature is the reason we need a new nature (to be born again). Since we are so flawed, this underscores the need to have a source higher than ourselves if we are going to lead and teach our children the values of compassion, empathy, and character.

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

Character, Influence & Children – Part 2

In our last post we started to look at character and its connection to morality. This post will take us another step closer into the relationship between character and morality:

So what is morality?

Is it a code of ethics?

Is it a set of rules or a set of expectations?

Does it require human intelligence in order to relate to its meaning?

If it’s a uniquely human attribute, is it something that we have collectively defined through an evolutionary process? Does culture play a role in how it’s derived?

If so which culture and how?

What about people who are supposedly devoid of any sense of morality such as the character ‘Dr. Hannibal Lector’, I.E. ‘Silence of The Lambs’? Is it possible that some people have no conscience?

We can make suppositions and conjecture but who really and truly knows the answers to these questions?

God does but I certainly don’t!

So in my simple mind, I believe we all have an internal compass, which tells us how to differentiate between right from wrong. I believe we have a mind that has a conscience so we can understand concepts such as fairness, right, wrong, and as such we can accept more complex concepts such as moral reasoning, empathy, and compassion.

And since we previously established that all behavior is learned behavior and that children learn from older persons (typically adults and that adults are role models regardless of whether they wish to be); we now will look at three questions we previously asked about our adult responsibilities:

  1. What are my actions and words conveying to the children in my world?
  2. What is the basis for where I derive my sense of morality?
  3. Am I aware of my influence?

Lets look at each question separately, then collectively. These keys are important to realize if we are going to become effective at influencing our children. The items below are listed in direct correction to the questions asked above. So for example,

  1. What are my actions and words conveying to the children in my world? – I need to know my actions and my words have meaning. What I say will be remembered for short while but what I do will have a more profound and longer lasting impact.
  2. What is the basis for where I derive my sense of morality? – I must determine a source for my beliefs and that source must be greater than myself (because I only know what I was told by someone else).
  3. Am I aware of my influence? – I must recognize that there is a connection between my world and me so that my presence and interaction within my world makes a difference.

Since we learn from one another, and our children look to us for direction it is important we examine what we are teaching them about morality and character. All too often we allow the hurried pace of life to distract us from realizing we have a limited window of time to influence our children. But if we don’t teach them, if we abdicate our responsibilities to teach them, we are leaving them to be instructed by other influences that may not share our values.

In my next post I will go into more detail about the above 3 points.

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

Character, Influence & Children – Part 1

Have you ever thought about how you learned what you know? I’ve thought about what I know and it seems that everything I know is a result of what someone either told me or showed me.

My ability to learn is determined by exposure and how that information was conveyed to me. If incorrect information was taught to me and I never learned the truth about a given subject, I remain in a state of ignorance in terms of my knowledge for that subject.

I imagine this is true for all of us.

Being taught information and being able to synthesize and apply information is another key component of how we internalize, comprehend and ultimately process what we learn. But those aspects are within the individual, this occurs after information presentation.

The focus for this post is how we provide influence to children so that they can decide how they will process the circumstances in their world.

I’m not talking about academic information because those subjects are black or white in terms of their correctness. Subjects such as math, English, science are taught (along with their rules) pretty much in black and white in that sense. No, I’m not talking about teaching academia; I’m talking about teaching values and morals and our role as influencers.

And I hope we can all agree that this is important…otherwise we have a completely different problem to address…So lets say for the sake of discussion we have elementary age children and we are trying to instill a sense of critical thinking in so far as their moral compass.

If we go back to the early point I mentioned about all learning being a function of what we were taught by others, it makes sense that in order to help instill critical thinking in children regarding issues of morality, we must think about a number of things that we believe to be true for this subject. Here are a few things to reflect upon as we approach this subject:

  1. All behavior is learned behavior
  2. Children learn from older persons (typically adults)
  3. Adults are role models (regardless of whether they see themselves as such)

So with these three factors established, it begs the question that we must ask of us:

 

  1. What are my actions and words conveying to the children in my world?
  2. What is the basis for where I derive my sense of morality?
  3. Am I aware of my influence?

 

The reason question number 3 (in the last list) is so important is because in life, you are either being influenced, or you are influencing someone. There is no exception to this rule and it applies to all of us! In my next post I will take a deeper dive into these questions!

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

Character – Our Nation Needs it More Than Ever

Let me start out by saying that ‘character’ is the foundation for which if absent, the world falls into utter chaos! Wow, how’s that for an opener! At the surface you may think this is overly dramatizing the importance of ‘character’, but I assure you I am not.

To better convey this point, let me first make a few important points. Lately, we have seen a barrage of images  in the news about the shooting of Michael Brown, of Ferguson MO.

Unless you live in a complete vacuum, you are familiar with this tragedy. Also, we now know the police office, Darryl Wilson (and his wife) are leaving the police department and most likely the general area for their safety.

We also have seen weeks of rioting occurring all over the United States as a result of the reaction of the grand jury to move to not indict offer Wilson. And so the result of all this has led to an increase in tension and chaos!

At the center of this issue is character!

Why?

Because it was character or the lack of good character that allowed a young man to think he could strong-arm rob a store for cigars, and later disregard the attempt of a police officer to stop and question him for a robbery (that he had just committed). It was also an issue of character that allowed this same young man to resist arrest and make a grab for his gun…

If all these events are true (and the robbery has been confirmed on video); then Michael Brown’s actions stemmed from a lack of good character! Lets not make excuses, it was bad character…

And what about the officer’s judgement and character?

Why did he try to stop and physically detain a young man who the officer described was clearly stronger, defiant and apparently not inclined to be physically detained? If he  had backed off and waited for back up to arrive, Michael Brown might have been arrested without injury.

Did the officer use good judgement? Or should he have waited for his back up to arrive before trying to arrest Brown? Was the officer’s attempt to grab Brown from his car door an example of trying to be ‘Macho Man’.

What was present in the officer’s judgement and character that allowed him to think that he should attempt to wrestle with someone who was un-cooperative, obviously stronger and indifferent to his initial attempt to be questioned?

Was the officer emboldened because he had a badge and a gun?

Was it a matter of duty or ego?

Who really knows?

To be honest, I am not sure what I would have done if I were in officer Wilson’s situation…

Now lets switch gears for a minute.

What about the rioters who decided that they were going to riot as a means to express their anger?

What made them think it was okay to rob and burn down local businesses?

How does hurting one’s own local business community help the matter?

Does the ‘ends justify the means’? Meaning: Is it okay to engage in utter chaos – burn and loot – just to make a point?

So now everyone that disagrees with a judicial outcome can just destroy their community?

Or were other more serious character issues present…that allowed so many to engage in criminal activities?

And what about the news reporter who published officer Wilson’s home address?

She thought she was on the right side of the issue…because from her perspective the officer showed no regard for Brown’s safety…

Do you see how this cycle of un-ending, self feeding  rationalizations  can be used to justify wrongful conduct?

It’s essentially the same state of mind that drives much of the violence in the world. And it is this mindset (to rationalize one’s wrongful behavior) that is such a pervasive character issue today. By now you see the point I made at the beginning of this post was not and is not ‘over dramatizing’ the importance of ‘character’ because the absence of good character is central to all these events.

Any time people act in ways that intentionally cause harm, hurt, and create mayhem; these are all problems that have character deficiency as a root cause. And if we don’t get a handle on ‘replenishing’ our nation’s character deficiency we are sure to see more civil unrest, fear, litigious action and soon more racially charged accusations.

Our nation watches the events of Ferguson, and yes – people do have a right to express their dissatisfaction with our judicial system but they have an obligation to do so within the confines of the law. Otherwise we have no order, we have a disorganized society of mayhem and chaos.

And keep in mind our kids are watching Ferguson and they are receiving messages from the events they see on TV and on the Internet. We have a responsibility to lead them in the paths they should go. Good character is vital to a nation, to a city and to individuals. In my next post I will speak to the issue of character as it relates to kids and what they learn from each other!

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

Character – The Missing Ingredient!

Character matters and everyone has no doubt heard this before. But why does it matter? What is so important about character and what exactly is character?

Did you know that Webster’s Dictionary defines character as: ‘the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves : someone’s personality or:  a set of qualities that are shared by many people in a group, country, etc. and lastly: a set of qualities that make a place or thing different from other places or things’

Interesting isn’t it?

That no where in the definition is there reference to the ethical or moral conduct of an individual… Could it be that we as a society have gotten so far away from placing importance or even recognizing conduct; that it is out of sight and out of mind?

I’m not suggesting that Webster’s Dictionary is the source for all where we derive meaning or how we define our actions as a society…but it is interesting how that as a society we have drifted so far from the founding values of that this country was built upon.

When I was a kid, there were some things that just were not going be shown on TV. Couples in their bedrooms slept in separate beds and work pajamas… We had some sense of protection from being exposed with too much in appropriate  information about sexuality and sensuous matters.

Now children have every imageable act place at their finger tips as they access the Internet. Some parents have placed little or no restrictions on their kids access and actually feed into their sense of entitlement for knowledge by taking them to see R rated movies just because the parents want to see the movie…

I’m not a prude and I understand this is 2014 and not 1914 however it makes me worry for the future of our children as they are forced to grow up too soon. What happens to the mind and psyche of a child who is forced fed millions of media messages in commercials…messages that shape their self perception.

All in the direction that marketing and advertising moguls want to feed…to your children…for a purpose that does not have their best interest in mind. So it is up to the parents to guide their children through the waters of media exposure. Do you know your values? It would be wise to be able to answer this question because if you don’t your kids will learn someone else’s.

In my next post I will talk more about character. What it is and why it’s important!

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

Take Time to Motivate & Inspire a Child — Today!

I recently had an opportunity to share information with a class of 4th grade students regarding what they may want to do to prepare themselves for a future career. It was very rewarding for me personally because I have had a successful career in corporate America and now I have a publishing business (and I am an author and illustrator).

Its funny how earlier in my corporate career, I was all about being highly productive, working towards business objectives and solving problems. I still enjoy that but in the arena of my publishing business model. But my point is I spent 30 years + working in business and industry yet never can I recall getting involved in working with children beyond teaching vacation bible school.

Now, I find it very interesting because I’ve learned (and am continuing to learn) that while some children may seem to be disconnected in terms of whether they are paying attention, some times you can see and make a connection. Sometimes what you say can resonate even if it isn’t necessarily apparent at the time you are speaking with them. Their minds are always evaluating what they hear from adults, as if to decide whether its authentic or not.

And if what you have to say is authentic, if its helpful and they can relate to it…you have an interested audience! Now the only question is what are you going to say that can motivate, inspire and direct them towards becoming excellent? We need more people, specifically more adults to step up to become role models and mentors for children.

I thought my generation was at a disadvantage…but the generation today, at the primary grade levels, have so much more to distract them. They are bombarded with so many conflicting messages from media, games, entertainment, peers, all of which through mediums such as every imaginable technological device…that they are on information overload before they reach middle school!

We need to understand that many parents are also overwhelmed too…So if you can make a difference, if you can carve out the time…do what you can to inspire and motivate a child today. They are after all, our country’s future!

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

Children and Why we Need to be More like Them.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the differences between adults and children, the way we process things and relate to one another. I’ve noticed that while we both want to be recognized, children really want to be affirmed.

They want to be acknowledge and remembered. I have 6 grandchildren and I instruct the primary grades as a sub teacher when I am not writing, illustrating or publishing. So, I know a little about children…

And I’ve noticed that children really like the adults in their world to acknowledge them. Its a cool thing to notice because even though you may have had to send a child to the office for some behavioral issue, the next day you see them they are often eager to greet you!

They are resilient and they love to be acknowledged even if your last encounter with them resulted in their receiving some type of discipline for unacceptable behavior. I think that’s cool. They know how to forgive and move on with the thing much better than adults.

Adults are so burdened with the weight of trying to reconcile our emotions and thoughts about one another. We attribute intent to other’s actions and we spend a lot of time analyzing our actions. So if we are offended by another adult, it takes more time to process whether we want to be on friendly terms with them again. That is the problem with growing up.

We lose our childlike instincts to just say ‘Ok, I’m sorry’. Being an adult means many things, most of which are great in terms of privileges however when it comes to relationships we are so much at a disadvantage as compared to children.

I think Christ loved the simplicity at which children process things. He loved their hearts. Their ability to accept without judging and scrutinizing, doubting and being sarcastic. Their ability to have faith in something without having to know how it works…

Adults are so skeptical. We need to have empirical proof of everything because the world has taught us to not trust others. We have learned to not accept but rather challenge all suppositions. These are things the world teaches you after you have lived enough minutes on this planet…We can learn a lot from children.

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing