What can parents do to help their children be moral when the child lives in an obviously immoral world? The answer is “a lot.” Parents can do a great deal to help a child grow up to be a moral adult. Children are learning every waking minute. They are like thirsty little sponges who soak up information at an alarming rate.
“Morality” is subjective. The definition of moral behavior varies from culture to culture and even from person to person. According to the dictionary, morality is, “conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct.” The “rules of right conduct” is where differences lie when morality is discussed.
There’s an adage that says, “children learn what they live.” It’s true. Children are learning what is considered moral behavior in the world that they experience. If that experience is gained by sitting in front of a television set watching people kill one another and having sex whenever and with whomever they please or playing violent video games, that’s what the child will deem “moral behavior.”
Morals are “learned” behavior. Babies aren’t born with morals. Babies are born, however, with the capacity to learn and learn they do. Children develop physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally, and morally.
There is a school of thought that says that a child has established his own set of morals by the time he is 10 years old. He “knows” what is right and what is wrong according to his own moral compass. It’s up to the parents to point that moral compass in the right direction. Morals are learned at home, and they are learned every minute of every hour of every day. The best teacher is a living example of moral behavior.
Bottom line: Your child will adopt your moral values, but they will learn those values by your actions and not by your words.