Family is defined by a common sense of morals and traditions. I know that seems to be common sense but bear with me as I go on.
It has been my experience, that other then a vague sense of right and wrong and a belief in the Wiccan Rede, that many Pagans don't have a well defined list of Virtues. Although they have a personal code, they often can not say what that is. Now I am not saying that Pagans are unethical or that there is something wrong with them. But rather what I am saying is that many of us grew up in a strict religion and/or household that ranted about sin and hellfire. And when we left that religion we chose to stay as far away from anything remotely like what we came from before.
This is a problem because ethics and virtues are very important for the individual and even more so for the family as a whole, not to mention the community at large. But the question is, how do we mesh all our individual senses of right and wrong into a common one? This is a simple exercise for the adults of the family. I say the adults because kids are still too young, for the most part to have their own sense of morals. For the older kids I leave that up to your judgement. You know your children better then anyone else.
I have included a list of thirteen virtues and my thoughts on them at the bottom of today's article. But do not think that you are limited to just those. Compile a large list of virtues and ethics and then whittle it down to around thirteen. This will be a manageable list that you can implement in your family.
Just remember do not do this lightly. I know that this may seem like a common sense statement but you must be sure that each virtue fully reflects your visions for what a family is and should be. And how it governs itself with each other and the world around us.
Now after you have created this list you need to have a family meeting and share it with everyone. And, most importantly, hold them to it. How you enforce the breaking of these rules is up to you. I have been blessed with two great kids, who usually listen without any problem. So the question of punishment is one that hardly arises. Although when it has I have had problems with guilt, wondering if I have been to hard and should just relax the rules a bit. When these doubts come up, I silence them with the thought that these rules are a microcosm of the rules that we all have to follow as adults in society. Whether in our relationships, our jobs, or just in day to day interaction with others of our species. And as I have been saying for a long time, my job is not to raise kids but to create normal well-adjusted adults.
As promised here is a list of virtues and some of my thoughts on them. These were found originally through FWTI which cites the Unicorn Tradition as the source.
- Tolerance - Webster defines as tolerance as 'sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own.'So how does one, as a parent, teach this to their kids? It is my belief that children are born tolerant. The idea of bigotry and racism is, in my opinion, something that is taught. So the real question here is not what can be done to teach it, but what can be done to encourage it to stick around.The first step would be to examine yourself. Are you tolerant of all? Do you ever speak unkindly of people in a general manner? Children have few else to learn from other then their parents.Then you need to wipe these things out of your thoughts and vocabulary.If this doesn't apply or you are ready to move on then you can work to expose your kids to different cultures and (if they are old enough) different religions. I know that in the plans for homeschooling my youngest, that when she gets old enough that the religious books of other faiths will be required. Tolerance comes from true knowledge of others.
- Charity - Webster defines this as benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity.
The love I speak of is not just passionate love, or even brotherly love. The term for this love is Agape. Defined as the selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications (especially love that is spiritual in nature).
I know, its a mouthful, but what better lesson can you teach your kid then love?
Children start off being obsessed with me and mine, so for them to not just be tolerant of others but to love them and to have goodwill towards, they must have good examples i.e. Parents.
Teach your children to love others and to do nice things for others. It has been my experience that to make them do so, is a wrong choice. They will only rebel. Point out the world around them and step back to give them chances to develop a sense of Charity for their fellow man.
- Humility - I think that humility is something that is missing in our culture. We are afraid of letting our kids lose, at anything. They have done away with keeping score and/or lowered the standards in school, so that no one's self-esteem is damaged. And what has been the result? We have a generation of children with no drive. They do not understand that they have limitations and so they can't understand why they fail in the real world.
- Devotion - I define this as the following and worshiping of the Gods, and all that that entails.
- Patience - Probably one of the hardest things for anyone to learn. But also one of the most important lessons to learn. My spiritual teacher always talks about Wicca and the organic method. Meaning that things happen in the time and way they are supposed to happen, we just have to be patient enough to wait for it to happen. Now this doesn't mean that we can sit idly by and wait for the bills to be paid. Rather it is to take life one day at a time and to just let things flow.
- Kindliness- Probably one of the easiest of the virtues to learn. So what is kindliness? Well simply speaking it is the act of being kind. And it is the end result of following the Wiccan Rede, 'An it harm none, do as ye will. For doing no harm is the end result of being kind.
- Forbearance - Forbearance is the art of self-control. Yes, I know short answer but it is the easiest to say.
Forbearance is the act of restraining oneself and not giving into our baser natures. It is what keeps us from being vicious and cruel and allows us to show compassion and love.
All good parents already teach this to their children whether they call it that or not. We teach our kids the difference between right and wrong. Some of us probably even say to them, "control yourselves."
On another level forbearance becomes the act of letting things go. To not hold grudges or to turn the other cheek. Now this doesn't mean that we should let the world walk all over us, but rather that we should not be ruled by our anger and our hate. Rather that we do not act as the world acts
- Sincerity - This means truth in word and act. That when you say something that that is what you mean and follow through. It goes far beyond just honesty and good follow through.
Rather it is knowing that you can do what you say and not saying what you know you can't do. I know that I keep falling back on the old cliche. But it continues to be true. Lead by example. If your kids know that you mean what you say then they will eventually seek to emulate that in their own life.
- Courage - defined by Webster as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. The ability to face fear and overcome it so that we can persevere. Whether that fear is a fear of ones self or of failure.
But this must not be confused with bravery. For fools are brave and rush into things with fear and thinking. But wise people are courageous and overcome adversity.
- Precision - is being precise in thought, word and action. Meaning that we should strive to be unambiguous in speech and action.
To many people I have met seem to have a problem just speaking their mind. We couch ourselves in half truths and hesitate to speak our minds. Instead we should be upfront and honest with first ourselves and then with everyone else in our lives.
- Efficiency - This goes back to my post on cutting out the clutter in your lives. If we have to much then our energies are scattered and we cannot be efficient.
- Discrimination - is the ability to be able to discern the truth in others. To see the real meaning of what people say. In other words to not be gullible.
- Wisdom - is the proper use of knowledge and thoughts. We can have knowledge but if we don't act on it in a proper and "wise" manner, what good is it?
Wisdom is also that which allows us to make decisions that do not involve ourselves getting drowned in drama or calamity. And as to be expected, wisdom cannot be taught. It can only be gained through experience, whether in this life or in past lives.