I am giving a local talk on this topic next month and have just started gathering thoughts. I got to thinking about it in earnest recently after a conversation with a mom who complained about her preteen son’s incessant lying: “He just looks me straight in the face and lies about anything and everything to get what he wants.” She was distraught, and had no idea why her son was like that when, she said, she and her husband tried their best to instill a sense of morals in their kids.
With her on my mind, I started jotting down some of Plato and Aristotle’s ideas on what morality is and how to cultivate it in children. . .
1. Morality is equally about doing best for oneself as it for doing well by others.
2. Virtue is as much about our feelings as our reason, and must be instilled by habituation to what Aristotle called “proper pleasures”—i.e., those that support ethical choices rather than undermine them. [Read more…]