If you are raising a child with a moral code only, you are not raising an ethical being; you are raising an obedient child.
Don’t be shocked when, as a teenager, he rebels to all those orders, yet is not able to come up with survival solutions to his problems. Following orders has not trained him in reason or judgment, and that’s what ethics is: rightness adjusted by judgment and reason.
School systems no longer teach logic or reason. Students must choose between a right and a wrong answer, and these are learned by heart. The students never get to flex their muscles about relative rights. They are not trusted to think, required to evaluate data or draw conclusions based on what they have observed. The right-and-wrong system in our schools is a system of anger where the student is too scared to form a viewpoint; but he will copy viewpoints. Matter of fact our teens scour the internet for acceptable viewpoints; they do not form them.
For these kids the hardest part of essay writing is forming a viewpoint, before we get to expressing a point of view in clear English.
So, you have your work cut out for you when raising a child! Handing over the thinking hat is no small task. You need to make him brave enough to observe and form a viewpoint, but if you, little by little, pass on the thinking process, you are helping him survive.
Of course, when he’s little you tell him ‘don’t touch that’. (You know why, he doesn’t)
Then you tell him ‘don’t touch that because it will hurt’ (You know why, he doesn’t)
Later you tell him ‘don’t touch that, it’s poisonous and if it gets you, it will stop your heart and you’ll die’ — The life-will-punish-you-if-I-don’t approach. Some parents love scaring kids into obedience with consequences of actions, yet kids always feel there’s something to be said for checking it out for themselves. No amount of ‘didn’t I tell you?’ will put an end to that.
The above applies to anything from poison ivy, to the girl next door, to dope. It would make some parent despair, but only because they got stuck at the right-and-wrong behavior stage; they got stuck at morals — didn’t progress to ethics.
You can win, though, and your child will survive, if you moved on to teaching him to gather data, evaluate data, and draw conclusions based on what he observed.
But how can I do that, you ask?
This can start very early. Ask: “what will happen if you touch that?” Followed by, “Let’s research that”, and “What do you think is the best way to go?” (Not just for you but also for your little brother) This again applies to anything from poison ivy, to the girl next door, to dope. The thinking process has to become his and early on.
Then, when he is a teen, he’ll look at Nancy, or the dope, do a little research, and, based on what he has observed, decides to leave it alone. His decision; his survival; his life.
For the very young or the not so bright, it may be necessary for you to bypass, evaluate the situation and lay down the law, but for all others …….make them do the thinking.
I hope this helps.