by H.G. Bishop Moussa
In part 8 of this series, His Grace Bishop Moussa addresses issues surrounding raising a family in the Christian faith. The personality of an individual is the final outcome of two sets of essential factors. The first set is made-up of the innate qualities inherited from the family. The second set is acquired from different contacts - such as family and school-life. But the family is the most important environment.
family plays a key role in building the personality for it gives all hereditary
qualities and provides the most important environment. You can easily tell the
difference between a person born and bred in a poor family in a slum and
another from a rich family and a cultured neighborhood. The difference lies not
in morality but in behavior: in patterns of thought; aspirations; ways of dealing
with others; expression of feelings; habits; attitudes and norms.
The first features of personality are formed between the ages of three and five. There is a difference between the wanted child and the unwanted child within the family, and also between an only child and one with many brothers and sisters. A child who is kept at home will not have a personality like one who's been encouraged to go out and make contacts with many other families.
So it is a must to know some important principles in sound pedagogy: 1. Setting an example 2. Understanding each Phase 3. Being even-handed
This point imposes itself as a primary principle, not just because we are handling the subject from a religious or moral viewpoint, but also because we are looking at it from a scientific and practical one. The child imitates everything, picking up behavior from parents, relatives and neighbors.
So we should be prudent in the way we speak and act. We should avoid bad behavior, such as abusing, slandering, or being harsh with others. We should also keep an eye on anyone who helps in the home in case they spoil or maltreat our children. Moreover, we should know what services the kindergarten provides for our children and what effect it has on the child's personality.
The parental model is very important. There is a real difference between a child who sees his parents living in peace and happiness and another who sees the reverse. The first will be calm and the second will be very nervous. Moreover, the second child may reject the idea of marriage in the future or deviate, according psychologists.
There is a difference between the child who sees his parents really involved with the church and takes part with them in prayer and receiving the Holy Communion, and another who misses out on all these things, living in a atmosphere of continuous disturbances: the parents shouting, the TV turned up and the telephone jangling.
Again, the child who gets to see short films and slide presentations about Christ and the Bible and finds somebody keen on helping him or her find out more about these matters, is different from the one who spends his or her time watching films on TV, playing football or going dancing. The former grows up with a spiritual awareness within him or her, while the latter grows up with a worldly heart distracted from the spiritual path.
The parents should study carefully the characteristics of each stage of growth. There are five stages: the two years in the cradle, the early childhood (3-7), the late childhood (8-12), adolescence (13-18), and maturity (19-25).
Each stage has specific characteristics and needs special handling:
The parents' treatment of the children should be balanced, neither terribly severe nor extremely fond. Love and firmness should go hand in hand. There must be no discrimination between girl and boy or one child and another. Lack of love and compassion may create delinquent or hardened youths.
These are some principles of a sound upbringing, but the most important is a close walk with God.
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