Teaching Maturity and Considerateness at HomeJAMES STENSON
James Stenson provides a brief, but clear outline of what exactly we mean when we speak of maturity, why it is so important, and how to go about teaching it in the home and at school.
Parents need to think long-term: the children's future marriage, success in future professional and social circumstances, depth of ethical sense and religious responsibility. Every effort made by parents now to build strengths will affect their children's future lives.
Moral development means moving from the preoccupation with self to active service toward others. The child says, "What can you do for me?"; the adult says, "What can I do for you?"
Parents try to teach — through example, practice, and word — adult standards of upright thought and behavior. Therefore, use "we" when correcting children.
Patience is the key. All children will misbehave; they come into the world
irresponsible, self-centered, and rude. Therefore they need from parents: (1)
clear understanding of what's expected of them; (2) persistent follow-through
over several years. Sooner or later (sometimes much later), the children will
understand why their faults were corrected. Parents must have faith in this, and
persevere in correction!
Show children that the family is a team, and their contribution is needed and expected.
Underlying principle of family life (and all of adult life): Authority must be proportional to responsibility. Since Parents bear nearly all ultimate responsibility, then they are in control and they make final decisions in important matters. Children can and should have "input," but not "control." Wise parents will listen to children's preferences, and accede to those of minor importance; but suggestions of children in more important matters must give way to parents' decisions. (Children flourish in an environment where they are listened to, but where competent adults are in confident control.)
Some rules for responsibility at home — what is expected of everyone in the family:
Dr. Ray Guarendi. Back to the Family (NY: Villard Press, 1991).
James Stenson. Preparing for Adolescence (NY: Scepter Press, 1990). (booklet of advice for parents, to prepare long-term for children's later adolescence)
Stenson, James. "Teaching Maturity and Considerateness at Home." unpublished article.
Published with the permission of the author.
James Stenson is the author of Anchor: God's Promises of Hope to Parents, Compass: A Handbook on Parent Leadership, Upbringing: A Discussion Handbook For Parents of Young Children and Lifeline: The Religious Upbringing of Your Children among others. Mr. Stenson is also the author of numerous articles and booklets including the very popular "Preparing for Peer Pressure, A Guide for Parents of Young Children" and "Successful Fathers — The Subtle but Powerful Ways Fathers Mold Their Children's Characters". An educator, author, and public speaker, Stenson was the co-founder of The Heights School in suburban Washington, D.C. and founder and first headmaster of Northridge Preparatory School in suburban Chicago.
Copyright © 1999 James Stenson
Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.