Developing a clear, well-articulated value system

| Kate Soucheray | October 7, 2019 | 0 Comments
Fork in the road

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August’s article addressed the need to have a well-formed value system to help us develop a sense of right and wrong, so we may become people guided by our conscience, which, in turn, will contribute to the development of good character. The Catechism of the Catholic Church cited St. Augustine, “Return to your conscience, question it … Turn inward, brethren, and in everything you do, see God as your witness” (1779). In addition, the Catechism contends, “In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows is just and right” (1778).

Furthermore, the Documents of the Second Vatican Council affirm, “It is through his conscience that man sees and recognizes the demands of the divine law. He is bound to follow this conscience faithfully in all his activity so that he may come to God, who is his last end” (D.H.,3).

These concepts can seem vague and imprecise, not tangible and applicable to our everyday lives. And yet, establishing a concrete application of these concepts will be the only way we will make them a foundational aspect of our family’s mission and vision, thereby creating a family culture that is holy and whole. Living according to our conscience means we understand when something we are about to do is wrong. Understanding right from wrong occurs through the process of moral development, first introduced by Jean Piaget and followed by Lawrence Kohlberg, both of whom recognized that the process comes about through learning experiences that help us become morally driven people.

For children, the crucible in which they are growing is the family. In this, they are witnessing the role modeling their parents provide each day, with regard to decision making. Children watch and learn as they observe their parents managing the moral situations they face and whether they do what they tell their children to do. The children are looking for evidence of integrity, even though they may not explain it that way.

ACTION CHALLENGEDecide today to become a person of strong character by using your conscience to help you discern right from wrong. Make every effort to follow through with your actions faithfully on a daily basis, thereby providing good role modeling for your children and grandchildren.

Parents might prefer to abdicate this responsibility to school or a church program, as they go about living inconsistently and contradictorily. They may say one thing and do another. Obviously, their actions carry more import for their children than their words ever will. Parents often wonder why their children are off track, disrespectful, or refuse to listen to their advice. They need look no further than their own example.

Children want limits. They want consistency. They want accountability. They want the adults in their lives to provide a good example to which they can turn for guidance and direction. They do not want parents to allow bad behavior to transpire. They do not want inconsistency, contradiction and conflict because this is confusing for them in an already complex, unregulated, and misguided culture. They want their parents to stand for something, and the best thing for them to stand for is to “always do the right thing.” Children do not want to hear this.

They want and need to see this demonstrated by the people best able to provide this leadership for them: their parents.

I’m sorry if this appears harsh. I taught middle school and high school for 20 years and I saw first-hand children who had good guidance at home and those who did not. I have now been a therapist for 10 years and I see young people who crave a sense of assurance they are on the right path. Establishing good role modeling may be more difficult in this culture, but in and of itself, providing an assurance of the right path for children, no matter their age, is not as difficult as it may seem.

We do this by first accepting responsibility, which begins by holding ourselves to a higher standard. If we are not committed to this, we need to begin to live a more righteous, moral life. As we do so, we can be assured we will provide good role modeling for our children and grandchildren to observe and learn as they navigate this culture.

Soucheray is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a member of Guardian Angels in Oakdale. She holds a master’s degree in theology from The St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul.

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Category: Simple Holiness