Teaching ethics to your kids

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Teaching ethics to your kids

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:57 am

I'm interested to know what you think of the following quote by Alain De Botton:

“The best way to transmit one’s philosophy of life to one’s children is to say almost nothing about it”


Do you think its an effective strategy to nurture a moral compass (that reflects one's own)?
I'd love to know your thoughts.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Teaching ethics to your kids

Postby Hickersonia » Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:28 am

If by that excerpt he is implying that living (practicing) one's philosophy, as opposed to talking about it, is the best way to transmit it to one's children, I can sort of buy into that...

But the excerpt doesn't exactly say that, so I'm reading between the lines to get to that...
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Re: Teaching ethics to your kids

Postby Samma » Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:45 am

The little I know about the guy I generally like, but he also bugs me a bit...
How about this one? Where is this even coming from?
Psychoanalysis vs Buddhism: the latter assumes that your anxiety doesn't have anything important to teach you.

https://twitter.com/alaindebotton/statu ... 9630000128

Back to the question, How might one transmit the hobby of reading to a child? Just read around them a lot, and they will become interested and pick it up. There is some truth in that. But of course, maybe not...

So the somewhat paradoxical claim is that transmitting beliefs, concepts, principles is best done with few words. How about some evidence? But it seems he might prefer soundbites and waxing philosophical.
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Re: Teaching ethics to your kids

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:17 am

Greetings,

Ben wrote:
Alain De Botton wrote:“The best way to transmit one’s philosophy of life to one’s children is to say almost nothing about it”
Do you think its an effective strategy to nurture a moral compass (that reflects one's own)?

I can't comment on the efficacy of that approach because I don't do it that way.

With my son I encourage empathy and to see things from other people's perspectives. I also encourage him to contemplate the impacts of his actions on himself and others.

Rather than being a type of "lecturing" (as appears to be implicit in Alain De Botton's quote, though it's hard to know for sure devoid of context) it's more a case of context-specific guided questioning... now that I think about it, it's not too dissimilar from a simplified and less structured version of this...

MN 61: Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Of course, none of that guided questioning with carry any integrity with a child if you're seen to be doing otherwise in their eyes... they will not respect a hypocrite.

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Re: Teaching ethics to your kids

Postby dagon » Wed Oct 09, 2013 3:22 am

Hi Ben

The problem that I have with the quote is that if fails to recognize the differences in people both as teachers and as learners.

Where he is perhaps right is that you cannot train kids (or anyone else) to have ethics. Ethics are a reflection of what is inside and that has to occur as a result of learning.

Many people recognize that each person prefers different learning styles and techniques. Learning styles group common ways that people learn. Everyone has a mix of learning styles. Some people may find that they have a dominant style of learning, with far less use of the other styles. Others may find that they use different styles in different circumstances. There is no right mix. Nor are your styles fixed. You can develop ability in less dominant styles, as well as further develop styles that you already use well.

Many people recognize that each person prefers different learning styles and techniques. Learning styles group common ways that people learn. Everyone has a mix of learning styles. Some people may find that they have a dominant style of learning, with far less use of the other styles. Others may find that they use different styles in different circumstances. There is no right mix. Nor are your styles fixed. You can develop ability in less dominant styles, as well as further develop styles that you already use well.


http://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/

My view is that if you want kids to learn what you want them to learn (we teach the lessons we teach, not necessarily the lessons we intend) then there needs to be honesty, trust and the development of an inquiring mind – but needs to recognize individuality such as in their learning style. Effective communication respecting individuality is the key.
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Re: Teaching ethics to your kids

Postby Sanjay PS » Wed Oct 09, 2013 11:40 am

There is no better way than to be a living example of the ethics that make us at peace and contended .

With all the vicissitudes of life that a family unit brings along with it , this is easier said than done . However , i have found an open, honest and engaging dialogue with our children, helps them in understanding why they may not necessarily "enjoy" life as a some of their friends do . Say for example being a vegetarian , we have taught our children there is absolutely nothing wrong when their friends take delight in eating meat . Why we don't eat the same is because , just as we would not like ourselves to be in pain, cut and eaten , hence , do we empathize with other beings in the same light . However , once our little boy said to his meat eating friend , that how would he feel if his parents were to be chopped and eaten or vice versa ! At times, life does become a sticky wicket .

Emphasizing the difference between a good touch and bad touch is something which should be openly spoken with our children as well as with their friends together. More of importance in todays world of easy endless information .

Most importantly , our children are not ours , but just seeds and fruits of their own deeds ; parents ,situations , circumstances are links that add up to experiences . The priceless gift that any parent can give to their children or any child can give to their parent is the gift of Dhamma . Thus getting an end to the blame game of life , whatever be the experiences .

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Re: Teaching ethics to your kids

Postby Doshin » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:11 pm

Ben wrote:I'm interested to know what you think of the following quote by Alain De Botton:

“The best way to transmit one’s philosophy of life to one’s children is to say almost nothing about it”


Do you think its an effective strategy to nurture a moral compass (that reflects one's own)?
I'd love to know your thoughts.


My first thought, why should I think my philosophy is the right one for my children ?

My second thought, my philosophy might be found through my delusion, and might not be right in the first place.

In my life I have decided to "transmit" (mainly) two qualities to my child, (always) be truthful, and ask questions when you do not fully understand.

From time to time, I re-confirms, that whatever the problem is, I will never be angry at my child, if they tell me the truth. If I should get angry it would never be at my child, but at the situation.

But in the end, my children should form their own view/opinion/philosophy, and that might be totally different from mine. I think they should build their own moral compass, and philosophy of life; my task is to listen careful and answer truthful to all their questions.

In my view, children should not be copies of their parents, they are individuals.

Well, that was my mediate thoughts

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Re: Teaching ethics to your kids

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:09 pm

I quite like the quote. It is like the one attributed to St Francis: "Preach the gospel always; if necessary, use words".

But it's very hard to do. With my children, I have the temptation to say "You see what I did there?"

It's also worth remembering that Alain de Botton is a populist philosopher whose take on morality and pedagogy is no more likely to be right than anyone else's.
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