Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Learning about the Virtues. Every Single Day.

I never know when I'll find myself in a conversation with one or more of the kids about a virtue or other philosophical idea. Here's a recent story.

Morgan wanted to play a board game and was reading the back of the box. She said, "Hey! This box says 'WARNING: Contains small parts. Not for children under 3.' Well that's good for US, because there's nobody under 3 in our house anymore!" 

Which, SIGH, is true. Why are they all growing up so fast?!?!?! weep weep

Okay, the My Babies Are All Growns Up Pity Party is over. (For now.)

That statement by Morgan became a jumping off point for a short discussion about independence. It was super awesome.

Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it—that no substitute can do your thinking, as no pinch-hitter can live your life . . . .
--Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (Galt's Speech), via the online Ayn Rand Lexicon

I can't remember if Brendan or I said it first, but one of us said something about how just because it's written down on a box doesn't mean we shouldn't think about it and make up our own minds.

We talked about how the peopleguys who designed the game put "Not for children under 3" as a guideline for parents (and to protect themselves, too). But guidelines are not rules or laws. We can make up our own minds based on our own situation about whether it would have been safe to play this game with Sean a month ago, before he'd turned 3.

We asked questions like "Does Sean put little things into his mouth anymore?" and "Looking at the pieces in this box, do you think Sean might want to eat them?" "Do you think he would have tried to eat them last spring? Or last winter?" 

We talked about babies we know. "Would Baby. C. want to eat them? Do you think we should keep this away from her if she came to our house?"

After talking through this thinking process together, we all agreed that Sean would probably have been fine with these pieces for quite a while now.

We also made sure to tell them that it's fine to read guidelines and even to follow them, but only after thinking about them for yourself, asking questions about whether it's important or relevant to you, and making up your own mind. And if you decide not to follow them, that's fine, too.

It was a pretty short and sweet conversation, but the older two kids understood what we were getting at.

I just LOVE these opportunities for a quick discussion or demonstration of some aspect of virtuous living. And they happen every day, sometimes more than once a day.

If you have any similar short and sweet virtue stories, I'd love to hear about them!

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