As a parent, one of the hardest things to do well is to transfer values into free-thinking individuals. Raising children requires establishing boundaries and helping them understand why it is important to think and behave in particular ways. The boundaries are enforced regularly when they are small, and they grow to believe, for a period of time, that this is the way life will always be. And then something scary for all parents kicks in—the notion of choice.
Sometimes it happens early, but most often it happens as children enter adolescence and watch others make choices against their parents’ wishes. Sometimes as parents we tighten the screws to make sure that our kids comply with our standards. This is often important in preventing harm. But at some point, the transition has to be made to our children making their own choices.
For our first four kids, this has largely taken place when they left for college, with high school serving as a transition period. They received progressive freedom over their last four years at home, and since all four went away to college, they were then launched to fend largely for themselves on a day-to-day basis. We have been available, and we have been praying, but they have been making the decisions.
Our fourth is a freshman in college, and I don’t like the process much better with her than I did with the first. But I know that it is necessary. We have had people tell us that we have “good children” during the years they were living at home. But children who have their decisions made for them are not really “good.” They are obedient, or well behaved, or compliant, all descriptions that are mostly positive in my mind while they live at home. But they can only truly be good when they are free to choose.
Since I teach ethics, I am aware that there are a wide variety of classroom approaches to the subject. In teaching auditing and accounting ethics, I need to explain the constraints on professionals’ behavior that are important because of the trust placed in them by others. I teach them rules that they must follow or expect sanctions from the profession or the public. I teach them compliance.
But what is interesting is that I have observed much more progress in ethical thinking since I started giving my students significant freedom in what they choose as outside reading for my course. They have to summarize for others’ review what they are learning from the material, and I have found that they take the material much more seriously, including trying to apply what they have learned. In fact, at least one group of students is continuing to meet weekly, six months after the course was over.
In the end, I ask them to develop ten or fewer principles to guide their professional lives. I have made plaques of their principles for a few of them because I want them to know how important their self-chosen principles are to living out the kind of life they envision. I hope that each of them will choose, freely, to be good and to do good.
What do I mean by good? I mean they will choose to value others the way they do themselves, and sometimes even more. I mean they will not violate a trust for their convenience or their gain. I mean they will speak truth when they speak, but they will not simply speak it to be hurtful. I mean they will help those less fortunate, not because they get a t-shirt or others command it, but because they value individual lives.
In many ways, I see this as a national conversation. There are well-intentioned people who want us to be good, and there are others who want us to be free. Those who want people to be good do not always define it the way I do, but they often picture those who want to be free as selfish, and rational self-interest as evil. Those who value freedom see their counterparts as “do gooders” who only want compliant behavior and are willing to enforce it, usually through the law or government intervention.
There are laws and rules that must be complied with for the common good. But I am convinced, from my experience as a parent and a professor, that in the end people must be free to choose how to live, especially when the choice does not cause harm.
After all, in the end, the goal is not compliance, but a life well lived. The end in mind is that someone will be good and will do good.
And you cannot be good unless you are free.
Great article Dr. Shaub. I think my mom struggled with the same thing but realized this is just a part of growing up. She definitely hasn’t and doesn’t agree with some of the choices I have made but she realizes I have to make them for myself. Parents do a good job of creating the foundation and it is up to the kids to build upon it properly.
This article is so true. I thought it was great how you incorporated the parenting perspective into it. It is something that I can relate to with my parents and how they raised me in a similar fashion. I didn’t start to learn what it means to make the right decisions until I got to college and was making decisions for myself. I agree completely with the last few paragraphs as well. If we do not have the freedom to make the choice, then we might as well be puppets. Otherwise, we would not learn what it actually means to make good decisions and what it takes.
Dr. Mike, this is true wisdom.
A well learned life lesson for me was that no decision IS a deision.
And I too, hoped I instilled in my children the ability to critically think before using self will and free choice, anticipate the possible consequences and be accountable for the outcome. Which also means they get credit for the “good” decisions too!
I am pretty sure I could enjoy sitting in on a couple of your lectures if they are ANYTHING like this.
Blessings to you and best wishes for a wonderful Australian adventure!!!
Interesting! It reminds me of some of my high school classmates. They all came from wealthy, hard working families with successful and more than often “helicopter” parents, but they can be so “messed up” sometimes. They had no interest in school, and did drugs for most of the day. It’s a shame, really. On the other hand, I never had a curfew, my parents gave me a lot of freedom as I grew up. There seemed to be some sort of understanding and trust between my parents and I. I would never want them to loose faith, and that drives me to be a good decision maker.
I couldn’t agree more with this article. How you live your life everyday and who you choose to surround yourself with reflects who you are as a person. Once character, reputation, or trust has been ruined, it is nearly impossible to gain any of it back. In the end, people remember how you were as a person and how you treated others, not your GPA, career achievements, etc. It is these values, that we must not separate in the working world. People who are true to their word will be able to make deals over and over, while others who are known to be dishonest, will have few to none willing to do business with them. If you are honest in your dealings with others, you never will have to question what your promised you would deliver.
I wholeheartedly agree with the points in this article. Though I am not a parent, I am very close with my parents and often ask them “What did y’all do?”. I ask this because I feel that my brother and I are well-rounded, honest, true, and ethical people in this often “corrupt” world. Their response is that they let us be who we were, and were there to guide us when we went off the path.
I agree with the post above that it is crucial as to who you surround yourself with. If you are constantly around those who are dishonest, then you will soon become desensitized and think that it is acceptable to act in the same way. The statement, “will not violate a trust for their convenience or their gain” is very powerful to me because it is the idea of being selfless. Instead of being egocentric, one should be concerned about others more than themselves. Entering the professional business world is a scary thought, because everyone will be tested with ethical decisions at some point. I am thankful to be in your Ethics course and able to put significant consideration into the principles that guide my professional life.
For the most part I agree with this article. I do think that the freedom of choice builds an individual, and with the guidance of their parents, children learn to make better and more ethical decisions throughout time. However, the only exception I see from experience growing up with a brother nine years older than me is that sometimes the parent is not always able to set their children free to make decisions around high school or college.
Largely because of my brothers roller-coaster of a childhood he had a hard time being “set free,” and when he was he made bad decisions and my mother would have to step in. Unfortunately, this was needed in my mind because he is just taking a little while longer grasping the concept of individualism and making choices than the average adult. Me on the other hand, I learned quickly from his mistakes and decided I wanted to take the opposite route and became independent very early in life. And where my argument ends is that as a parent you never will know when this time of allowing your child to make decisions may come. In my case it was very young and my mother recognized it and let me become more independent, but for my brother, he is still in need of her guidance to this day.
But then doesn’t this choice of letting your child free also stem from the parents ability to make good individual or ethical choices?
I agree in large part with your article. People are not truly “good” unless their good actions are done with more motive than to just comply. In “Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals” Kant talks about actions being moral or not based on the motive for the action. Using that mentality, people are only “good” if they are choosing to do good acts, not simply going along with what everyone else is doing, but doing good acts because they think the acts are necessary and (the key part) they WANT to do the act. One cannot be moral if they don’t want to be moral (Kant).
You can also apply a religious tone to this article. A lot of people wonder why God allowed Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden tree, why he even gave them the choice. To me, the answer is simple, if he did not give mankind the choice, man would not be truly free. Man would just be complying with the natural order. Only through the freedom to choose to do right can man truly do good (yes, man can then do evil as well, but that is a whole other conversation).
I am not a parent, and will not be for at least a few years, but I do know how much my own parents struggled with the predicament of how much freedom to give my siblings and I. Dr. Shaub, I can assume you also wondered how much was too much, and you went over in class your duty to protect your children. My parents decided to give each of their kids different amounts of freedom. My brother experienced very little freedom in high school (primarily because he pulled on the reins a lot), and when he got to college he experienced what I call the “goldfish shock”, like when a goldfish is dumped into a new bowl too quickly and dies because he isn’t used to the environment. My brother has succeeded since entering college but had to work a little harder. I was given a lot more freedom, probably too much, in high school. While I was pretty much responsible for my choices in high school, when I got to college I lacked the “Jimmy Cricket” that I had in my parents (They would help me with choices in high school, but weren’t always around at 2 AM in college). I guess the third time is the charm because my sister seemed to have the appropriate freedom/restriction balance. I know that was long winded to make a small point, but I agree with Kiley that a parent doesn’t know the appropriate amount of freedom to give their kids, but through trial and error you can get to the right amount. (I’m just glad that my parents did instill morals and respect for the law while I was young because while my brother and I did make some dumb moves, neither of us wound up in jail and we both are still very strong in our religious convictions…so I guess my parents did a pretty good job after all).
I definitely agree with what your article is saying and how it ties in everything from parenting of your own children to how you incorporate that with the class. From what I have understood it seems that when students have your audit class it is more concrete as to the expectations and certain readings as opposed to you ethics class like you have said there is that freedom. In some aspects, I as a student, like the idea of freedom because it gives the sense that the professor trusts me to make my own decisions and it also gets me more excited to relate what I have learned in class with different topics I am interested in. Having that sense of freedom allows us to tie things together in a way we like and does indeed improve our ethical thinking.
With attributes to the whole parenting side mentioned, my parents actually did the same to us, had more of guidelines of what we could and couldn’t do and we were also said to be good children, but at the same time once we got older we carried what our parents had taught us when we were given more freedom. Yes, they are not always going to be there to hold our hand every step of the way and with now 2 of us in college, myself almost being done, I have kept the same expectations for myself as my parents did when I was younger. My sister who was more of a loose cannon in high school has developed her own morals and principles to live by, and by giving her that freedom to prove she is more of an adult has made a complete turn around in terms of organizational skills.
Great blog, looking forward to reading more
I agree with this article. My parents raised my brother and me in a household where they gave us Christian values as a foundation to live our life. As we grew up they allowed us more freedom, but always made sure we were holding on to our values. I think that it’s who we become after we leave home that is the true test of our morals. Those values have continued to stay with me as I have grown up. I believe they shaped who I am today.
I like how the ethics class is set up. I think that by just reading the textbook alone you are only memorizing definitions and seeing a few examples. The book alone would be perfect if we were living in a world that was perfectly black and white, but we don’t. The groups allow us to talk about situations that are relevant to us. I also like how in class we spend our time talking about things that are going on in the world around us. Ethics is very important to my professional and personal life and I know I will take a lot with me as I leave this class.
I can definitely recognize and attest to these statements about parenting and allowing children to have freedom to make their own choices. My dad was very strict and protective when I was growing up, mainly because I was the oldest, and as a result I never really had to make any tough moral/ethical choices, there was always an answer or a choice made for me. When I was in high school my parents got divorced and my siblings and I continued to live with my mom. I had already earned my mother’s so I didn’t really have any rules or curfews to abide by. Although I was able to make good choices most of the time, I definitely was given the opportunity and freedom to pretty much do whatever I wanted. I feel like this “trial time” of having freedom allowed me to come into college (when I really was free to do whatever I wanted) more prepared to make my own decisions and deal with the freedom I was given.
I think we greatly enjoy our ethics reading books because we are rarely given the opportunity to choose a book for a class that we have a personal interest in. Also, our lives are so busy that it is hard to find time to read for pleasure and I think this class allows us to have a “structured” (because it is required) time to read books that we want to get the most out of and want to find ways to apply what we learn to our own lives.
This topic is intriguing to me. I agree with the article and I find it interesting to see how parents and professors adapt alike. I am one of four kids who are dearly loved by our parents. When I look at their approach to raising us, I see that they had expectations and stern reasons for things, but no strict deadlines or curfews. We were expected to be honest and call so they would know where we were, but as long as we were truthful and kept them up to date, we were alright. I look at my little sister who is 10 and she does not have a bed time, but chooses to make one for herself. This makes me wonder if in some ways we like rules better, because we can measure our success. We have something to put a check mark of satisfaction by.
I can parallel my experience as a child to how professors treat students in college. This is not true for every professor, but I have found it to be my general experience from the professors who truly care about their students. Freshmen year expectations are made, syllabi are handed out, and grading scales are discussed. All of these events also take place in upper level and graduate classes, but the expectation is different and more freedom is unleashed. The goals of the students have transformed from I need an A to I would like an A, but I also want to know and truly understand. One of the reasons I think that students have changed their view is that they see professors who want to usher them in knowledge while giving them the freedom to choose and understand on their own.
It is hard in a world where so many things are clearly right and clearly wrong, to know what to do when given a choice, but that is where growth and maturity occurs. When we make those tough choices and choose to live as the people we want to become.
I truly believe that free will is one of the most precious gifts that we have. In the academic setting, I definitely agree with you: the more freedom that teachers give their students, the more that students take command of the learning process and the more practical knowledge they will gain from the experience.
Receiving freedom from teachers also results in a more challenging environment. I remeber ACCT 320 in particular, where Professor Fietchner assigned a presentation where we had to talk about something that is important to us, as well as any topic of business.. This really made me think about what matters to me and what I wanted to share with the class-a difficult task! I appreciate how in your class as well we are given similar freedom in our ethics reading choices-this has helped me to become more involved in developing my own ethical code as well as lean from the variety of readings from my classmates. Thanks!
From experience, I believe that teenagers and young adults learn a great deal about themselves, about life, and about values once they are able to make decisions on their own. I agree fully with Dr. Shaub’s reasoning behind letting his children progressively gain more freedom. I would like to rebuttle from my side of the story as a high school/college student trying to figure out which freedoms I would take and which choices I would like to make.
I was raised in a caring, loving family very similar to what Dr. Shaub describes. My parents gave me some liberties in high school, but moving to college was definitely a huge leap for me. What made my transition unique was that I had a twin sister right beside me every step of the way. My twin sister is one of my best friends, as she will always be. I am grateful that we had each other because we had the unique ability to bounce ideas off of each other, share experiences with each other, and best of all, keep each other in check. I am bringing up my twin sister because she made me realize how much of an impact my closest friends had on me when I was going through my transition phase. This was a critical time in my life, as it is in every teenager’s life, and I believe parents should pay very close attention to which friends their children are trying to model after during these few years.
Dr. Shaub said that you become an average of the five people you spend the most time with. I would venture to say that the 2-3 people you spend the most time with from the ages of 17-22 weigh a great deal more than those you spend time with before or after this age. This is when your character is being built and molded and prepared for the rest of your life. So, in conclusion, pick your friends wisely and pay attention to who you spend the most time with.
I love the insight that you give us when you speak on topics like this. It’s funny how two completely opposite worlds (being a father and a professor) can correlate so much. As college students, it wasn’t long ago when we were left with this freedom and all these choices that you are talking about. The transition to college wasn’t easy but I’m thankful that my parents gave me enough freedom in high school that I could make my own decisions, not all the times the right one. But I feel like I learned from those and wouldn’t have turned out the way I am now if it wasn’t for that freedom.
At this age, it’s hard for me to imagine what it’s like to raise children, and more importantly, into the people you want them to be. However, I believe it is important to set boundaries and give them guidance when they need it. I just hope when that day comes that I have that responsibility as a father that I can instill in them the ability to make right choices.
I really enjoyed the comparison between being good when we are under the wing of our parents and being good once we have left home. It is so important as children to learn values from those around us, and I am extremely grateful that I had parents who instilled the importance of loving myself and others well. As I continue to grow and develop in college, I am faced with decisions almost daily as to how I should live my life. For most of the decisions that we make, our answers are quick because the “right thing to do” has been so ingrained in our minds as a child, but at times we have to find the balance between our personal benefit and how it would affect others. At my current state, I can’t possibly imagine how I will choose to parent, but I hope that through my own parenting methods I will be able instill my children the importance of thankfulness, faith, and love as my parents did for me.
It is interesting to expand the thoughts of parenting to our government and nation as a whole. I hope that as citizens we would be able to make decisions personally to better our country, but I also understand that rules and regulations are needed. It is always a difficult concept because we want to think that everyone is intrinsically good, but sadly that is not always the case.
I really enjoyed this blog. I have been thinking a lot lately about how much in the past four years my parents have had to let go. I was raised in a home with Christian values and strict rules and oddly enough I was never one to try to rebel in large ways ( I was a teenage girl at one point, I’m sure I had my moments, but on a whole I followed the rules). I then left for college and was on my own. For once I could make my own decisions, do what I pleased to do or not to do. It makes me wonder what will happen once I am a parent. Will I freely let my children go or be a paranoid mom wondering what they are doing all day every day in college? I cannot answer that just yet because who knows how I will act, but I have to hope that I will have taught them enough morals and values in their 18 years at home that they will make right decisions.
We can only do for others so much until they finally have to do for themselves. It is hard finding the balance of how many rules need to be placed in order for people to do the right thing. There are people who will always choose to do right no matter if there are rules or not and then there are people who don’t care about rules and will do as they please. I’m not sure if we will ever be able to find a balance in between these people, but can only hope that in the end people will choose to do right. That means that we are all called to be ethical moral people and hope that others will catch on to what is good.
I believe that freedom is a gift from God and a privilege, which makes it something that can sometimes be taken for granted. With freedom comes choices, and knowing what the right path to take is not always easy. This makes me wonder, could freedom be a beautiful blessing and a curse at the same time? Freedom not only gives people the opportunity to make right choices, it also allows them to make bad choices. In the blink of an eye, everything can be taken from a person, including their freedom, due to one bad decision. Does this mean that they are a bad person and they should be judged accordingly? It is only possibe to truly understand and appreciate something by experiencing it, but this also means we have to face the consequences of choosing to experience something, whether those consequences be bad or good. Can you imagine being thrown in jail, having everything taken from you, and losing all control and freedom that was once in your grasp? No, not without actually being there and experiencing it. We all have the freedom to do the right thing and be different from the crowd, which can be very difficult at times. But you must ask yourself, is doing the wrong thing worth losing your freedom?
I grew up in a large suburb outside of Fort Worth. My parents, originally from the midwest, moved to Texas shortly before my older sister was born to start a new career and make a life for our growing family. Without any extended family near by to lean on, my parents became very good friends with other families in our neighborhood. These family friends evolved into more or less an extended family over time. My best friends from home are more like siblings or cousins. We did everything together growing up and I have known most of them since we were infants. My friends and I call our moms “the mom network”. They are always around to lend a helping hand or shovel out discipline, whether it’s to their child or not. Our moms also know everything! In high school when any of us would get in trouble, whether it be a speeding ticket, skipping class or if anything was the matter, our moms knew before we could tell them ourselves.
Dr. Shaub, you mention the struggle you faced raising your children and guiding them down the right path, always questioning if your guidance would stay with them. I can say that the guidance I recieved from my parents and my extended family in Fort Worth is always with me, whether I like it or not. I am lucky to have the love, support, and guidance of so many people and understand that they have all molded me into who I am today. I hope to make them all proud by the decisions I make and actions I take.
I agree with what you have written in this blog. The basis for my morals and values came from not only my parent’s enforcement, but through example. I have been blessed to have two wonderful older brothers who have guided me in becoming the person I am today. With their successes in life, as well as their failures, I have seen, first hand, what hard work and determination will produce.
I believe that it was the foundation my parents laid for me early on that gave me the discipline I have today. Gradually as I got older, my parents were able to have more faith in me and loosen the reigns a little bit. All throughout school I juggled school sports, club sports, honors classes, and maintained a social life. At an early age I had to learn time management in order to be successful in all aspects of my life, which I feel has helped me immensely in college. My parents never had to ground me for not completing my homework or for making bad grades because I always did the best I could.
I appreciate the freedom you have given us in class this semester, Dr. Shaub. I have found that the reading I do for fun is more enjoyable than assigned reading because I am not being forced to read a book that I do not want to. In high school, I would always start reading our assigned reading, but, when it started to bore me, I would just read the spark notes instead. For our weekly summaries I have found myself reading over the minimum of one hour requirement because I cannot seem to put my book down.
Whether dealing with teaching or raising children, I believe that freedom of choice is a good learning tool. Through my independence of my parents these past four years I have grown and learned more than if was still under my parents constant supervision. I have successes and failures that I have learned from, and will be able to carry with me after college.
I think this is a really great article for a couple of reasons. First of all, I believe that it gives who ever is reading it an insight to how you are at home with your children and with your students. As a student, it makes me feel like I am one of your children. Of course not in a way where you’ll start paying my tuition (you can if you want, by the way) but in a way where I feel that you care about us and what you teach us and whether or not we succeed. That is a good feeling 🙂
Also, I agree with the position you take on “free” and “good.” I believe there needs to be a balance, but each should be involved in your every day life. Any one can demand that you be “good” and of course most of the time we comply based on who is telling us, but there is a small part of me that says I should rebel. Now, I have never been the type to do such a thing, but it may have crossed my mind a time or two. I want to be the the one that is making my own decisions and living my life the way I choose because I believe that I can make good decisions and live a good life. I agree with you. You have to have freedom to make your own decisions and you have to use that freedom and choose to live your life in a way that will make not only other proud, but yourself as well.
I do not have kids, but I seldom worry what they will be like during their terrible teenage years. I can only hope and pray that I teach them enough “good’ things so that they can be FREE and make their own decisions to be good.
I agree 100 percent with this blog. Growing up, my parents set a great example for me and had a set of standards and rules that they expected me to abide by. All I ever knew was what they showed me by example. What was weird was when I moved to College Station and was three hours away from them, I still went by what I had always known. I had freedom from them, something which I had never had before, yet I didn’t venture off the path they had created for me. Even when I would come home for the summer, they no longer gave me a curfew of midnight like they previoulsy had, but I never stayed out much later than that. Something I never want to lose is trust with my parents. Trust is a hard thing to gain back, and losing that from my parents would be something I would regret for the rest of my life. By their example, I know I will act the same way with my children.
This is very fascinating to me because it applies so well to the way I live my life. I’ve had a mature outlook on life for quite sometime. I never had my roller coaster stages throughout middle school or high school and as I think about it, I think it largely stems from the fact that I watched four older siblings go through some major pitfalls. I’ve seen them do things that put my parents through alot of stress and anguish and always swore to myself I would never make the same mistakes that they did. I am so thankful for all the guidance I recieved during my childhood but I’m even more thankful that my mother had so much trust in me during my years in high school. It’s the greatest feeling in the world to know that you have someones utmost trust, especially your parents.
From the day I left for college, I have had complete freedom to do as I please. My mother doesn’t call to make sure I’m going to church every week, or that I’m studying for classes and getting homework done, or making it to work on time. It’s a great feeling to let her know things are going well when she does call, because I’m being successful under my own guidance and motivation. I truly take it to heart when my parents tell me how proud they are of me because I know it’s because “I’m” making the right choices.
I thought it was interesting to read this article while in progress of taking your ethics class. And I can now fully appreciate your decision to give my classmates and me the freedom you have. During class you have challenged us to make our own decisions and it is refreshing to see you apply this to your own life and your family.
This has also given me insight as to what my parents dealt with as I moved forward in life and what I will experience someday with my own children. In reading this blog and some of the comments above, I believe the most important thing I can take from this is that the freedom given to us all is easily mishandled. However, it seems that what’s more important is what we decide to do after a situation is mishandled and I think that is when the decision can really be made if someone is “good” or not. Mistakes can be made, this is human, but the more important point is to learn from that and understand why you strayed in the wrong direction when given the choice to do something right.
We are all inherently different and I am sure we have all come across someone we believe has been given this freedom too early, or, in many cases, have taken it for themselves too early. One of my closest friends took this liberty in high school and dropped out her junior year. She has had what I would see as too much freedom. As I think about it, five years later, I am not sure how else she would have done it. I believe she has found her way past some bad and has now found a place where she can be good and will continue to be good. And in the end, I think that time is all most people will need to find the place where they are good.
This blog entry brings to mind my own upbringing. My parents chose a parenting style similar to Dr. Shaub’s. As I proved myself throughout junior high and high school, additional freedoms were gradually introduced. I contrast that with many of my friends who were given little to no freedom or responsibilities throughout high school. Those same individuals have left for college unable to deal with the reality of freedom of choice. The results in a few cases have been devastating. By going from no freedom to total freedom instantly, many of my friends proved unable to make wise decisions.
When parents stop creating to-do lists and curfews, the consequences can be both terrifying and exciting. I remember my first night in College Station. I was sitting in the movie theatre at 11:45 pm, waiting for the midnight showing of a recently released movie. I distinctly recall looking down at my watch and thinking, “It’s nearly midnight. I can’t believe Mom hasn’t called yet to see when I’ll be home.” And then I remembered the new freedom I had.
In addition, I’m reminded of the summers when I move back home. It always requires a bit of an adjustment on my part as well as my parents’. Will a curfew be reinstated? There’s always the mantra of “My house. My rules.” In the end, though, the transition always proves relatively easy. My parents have done a remarkable job of granting me freedom, and I like to think that I’ve done a relatively good job of handling it.
I truly enjoyed this article because I feel my parents went through the same worry of me being able to make my own decisions as I started to get older. Although I am not a parent, I know that I would only want the best for my children and would hope that what I instilled in them as children would help guide them in their path of life. In chapter 2 of “Ethical Obligations and Decision Making in Accounting” by Mintz and Morris, it mentions that virture theorists hold that we should avoid acquiring bad character traits and claim that virtuous character traits are developed in one’s youth. I firmly believe in this saying because I believe my mom instilled good morals for me growing up and it has helped develop me as a person and has helped in my decision making. Today Dr. Nixon mentioned that “Mother know’s best” and I agree with him 100%. We are influenced by the people we let into our lives, so it is best to choose wisely on whom we trust and who can help us make the best decisions. Remember, gut feeling is a large sign on telling you right from wrong, and should be something we should follow in our careers.
I was born and raised Catholic. I went to a Catholic elementary school because my mom wanted my silbings and me to get a better education and to learn about God. We attended church every single Sunday, whether we wanted to or not, and my mom always taught us right from wrong and good from bad. I have to take a different perspective on this blog from some of the previous people commenting on it because when I hit high school, I didn’t like the tight rules. I definitely had my rebellious stage, would lie to my parents, would hang around people I knew I shouldn’t have, until I had to face the consequences for my actions. I was suspended from school and had to attend a disciplinary school for a few weeks because of a dumb decision I made near the end of my high school days. I remember my mom crying about it for weeks on end, and believe me, nothing hits you harder than seeing your parents cry. To this day, my mom remembers this time period and it still brings tears to her eyes, and mine as well. However, I took something extremely humbling away from that experience. I don’t look back on it with regret and embarassment. Everything happens for a reason. I was disciplined the way I was because I deserved it. I grew as a person because of it. I knew what I was doing was wrong and it’s unfortunate I had to go through my experience to realize it, but I wouldn’t change a single day of what happened because I got so much more out of living it than I ever got from listening about it. I don’t know if it was feeling like I was trapped and couldn’t make my own decisions, but when you’re 16 you feel like there’s no limit to what you can do. I’m not a parent, I don’t know if there is a right or wrong way to raise your children, but my parents have 1 child out of college working full time, me on my way there with a job offer in hand, and my two younger siblings thriving in school, so who’s to say they weren’t the best parents or could’ve done it differently? I amend my parents for getting us out of school alive and full of knowledge in light of the tough decisions I know they had to face with each of us.
First off, I really enjoyed this article Dr. Shaub. I am the “infamous” only-child of my family. So my parents had to live with the decisions they made for me because they didn’t have other chances to do things differently. The approach that they took with me was to instill me with good values from a very early age, and let me have the freedom (not complete freedom of course!) to make choices for myself. I didn’t always make the right choices, and they would let me know when I made a mistake how I could react if I was placed in a similar situation in the future to make the right decision. I have felt that this has been very beneficial for my decision making, because when I got to college and was on my own, I wasn’t scared when placed in a difficult situation.
Having three younger siblings and being the oldest, I can definitely agree with some of these points. I left for college myself and was a “perfect child” who was well prepared to take on life. Then I started living life and making my own choices and life definitely got a lot harder. I watched my younger brother leave my parents house and make his own decisions about how he wants to live his life. He took a completely different path than I did which is hard for me, as his older sister, to watch the faulty steps he takes. My middle sister is leaving home in one short month to come live with me here in Aggieland, and I couldn’t be more proud. The advice from my parents has been to let her make her own decisions, or she will not prosper in her own way.
The people you surround yourself with and the personal goals you have for yourself are a direct reflection of the person you will become, and there are always choices to be made.
I thought this blog was enlightening and even mentioned it to my mom. How you raised your children, Dr. Shaub, is a perfect example of Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. When we are little, we are only trying to avoid punishment, so setting standards that are “right or wrong” are the correct approach. However, as children reach junior high and high school, we hit the egoism stage. This is where rebellion comes in, and true freedom probably isn’t the best idea. However, once college hits, many move to the next stages of fairness and/or law and order. Once this time comes, freedom to make more choices is wise since we hit the stage where we can make more ethical decisions.
While not everybody hits the stages at the same time, it’s important to realize when children do so you know when it’s the right time to give more freedom. I know my brother already was at the level where he made sound ethical decisions early in life. Because of this, he was given a lot more freedom then the rest of us siblings.
Thinking back to my personal experiences growing up, I completely agree with the concepts of being obedient not necessarily making you a good person and that one must have the freedom to choose in order to make the right choice. I can say that college, and more specifically the freedom that it brought into my life, changed the person that I have become, but I do not think that development would have been possible without the guidance of my family.
This trend parallels the importance of acting ethically throughout your career development. Once progressing to a management role, a foundation of strong character will make doing the right thing easier as responsibility increases. In many of the corporate scandals of the past decades, many of those found guilty of complying with managements wishes maintained that they knew what they were doing was wrong but wanted to obey their bosses. If we are ever faced with a similar pressure, we should all remember that we have the freedom to say no and follow through with what we feel is right.
I truly appreciate my parents and the values they have instilled in me. They taught me to be honest, caring, and no matter the circumstance to never let my character waiver. Although, it was difficult for them to progressively let go and give me more freedom, they were confindent that the values they taught me would guide me through the difficult situations. The person I am today is because of their expample and guidance. Our true character is shown during the challenging times. I can honestly say I have faced numerous obstacles and challenges throughout my college career. What has got me through it, is the continual support and guidance from my parents. They have prepared me to make my own decisions and to do the right thing even when it’s not easy.
I agree that parents have to guide their children in the right direction, but must also let them make their own choices. My parents instilled values in us such as being honest, hard-working, respectful, helping others, etc. I believe they have always set a great example for us. Yet, they were never forcing us to do anything or making choices for us. We didn’t have “bed time”, we didn’t get grounded, and they never pressured us to get good grades in school. However, I chose to stay out of trouble because I liked doing the right thing. I did well in school because I wanted to, not because I was afraid to get in trouble. Based on my experience, I believe to be “good”, you not only have to have a good example to follow, but you must also freely choose to act that way.
I agree with this statement Dr. Shaub. What I have seen in my teenage years is that kids will ultimately do what they want no matter what boundaries you place on them. Parents can’t be with their children 24/7! My mom told me once that sometimes she had to let me make mistakes myself and suffer the consequences. My parents raised me in a Christian home so I have grown up believing the same values as them, attending church every Sunday, etc. etc. It wasn’t until college when I was “free” that I really started to make my faith my own and make life choices for myself. I remember asking my mom and dad if it was a scary thing to see my brothers and I go to college, and my mom told me “You just have to pray that you raised them right.” I know my mom and dad pray for me and my life choices on daily basis, and that is something I am very thankful for. It is a scary thing for me to think about in the future when I have kids. The question that I have to ask though is “How free”? How much “freedom” should you let your kids have? where’s the boundary? These are the difficult questions that I will be scared to answer one day! I have seen rebellious children come from wonderful parents, and I have seen wonderful children come from abusive, alcoholic broken parents. Everyone has free will, and in the end, no matter what circumstances the individual is in, it ultimately comes down to them to decide what kind of life they want for themselves.
I think this is a really interesting topic. Reading other people’s comments, it seems that everyone says they became the way they did because of their parents pushing them to be good people. I, on the other hand, feel like I ended up the way I did despite the influence I received at home. I never partook in any ‘bad’ behavior during my time at home, nor have I rebelled and done so in college. But it wasn’t because my parents would be disappointed or because I wanted to make them proud, it was for two completely different reasons. First off, I didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize my own future. I knew I wanted to be able to make something of myself, and I have seen in others how decisions made even at a young age can have an effect on where they make it in their careers. The other reason is because I didn’t want to cause any other problems at home. There was enough going on in my house that my best bet for happiness was to stay invisible, and the best way to do that was to go to school and take part in school activities until it was time to come home where I disappeared to my room.
Now that I’m older, I have discussions with my mom about what she did that made me the way I am. I want my future children to make good decisions on their own like I did without doing so because of fear of punishment, but I still don’t understand what did it for me while other kids in my same situation end up on a bad track. It seems to me that it really is the individual themselves. I was lucky enough to surround myself with ‘good’ peers from an early age and therefore had no need to act in any other way.
I truely appreciate your honesty and transparency, Dr. Shaub. This topic of free will goes well with the book I am reading for my Weekly Ethics Readings, ‘Mere Christianity’ by C.S. Lewis. In the beginning of the book, Lewis is constructing his case and explanation for Christianity and how it compares with the ‘world view’. One interesting part deals with free will and why God would create beings that had the ability to choose the opposite of His perfect will for their lives. Lewis says that although free will makes evil possible, it is the only thing that “makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having…the happiness God designs for his higher ceatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other.”
I think it is much the same with parents and children. Parents instill good morals into their children and then, at some posint, have to leave them be to make their own decisions. My sister is graduating from highschool next month and in her graduation announcements my Mom included a quote from her favorite song, “it’s not living if you don’t reach for the sky- I’ll have tears as you take off, but I’ll cheer as you fly.”
I agree that parents do play a big part in how their children turn out. I also agree that when it comes down to it, the end result is at the discretion of the kid themself. If the parents make all of the right decisions and try to encourage their children as best they can, and the kid still decides to make poor life choices, then there is not all that much that can be done. However, more so than the parents, I would say that the other brothers and sisters in the family, as long as they are close in age, have a big impact on how they all turn out. From my own experience, I always had a brother or my sister looking out for me giving me advice. Usually this advice came from some past experience they had already learned from. Regardless, since we were so close in age, we were always there to help give advice or to call one another out if we were doing something that we would regret later. I can remember countless times where my older brothers would give me advice. Now, I didn’t always follow that advice and on more than one occasion I paid for it dearly, but when I look back, it is easy to see how many times their advice influenced my decision making and saved me a lot of regret.
On a different note, I didn’t grow up in the traditional Christian home. Neither of my parents are very religious, nor did they force anything on us when we were growing up. It has only been in adulthood that I have seen my brothers and sisters take an interest in religion and Christianity. It has been more through their faith that I have seem them become better people than through what other people have told them or through what my parents tried to teach them growing up. I can attest to this myself. I finally started making my faith my own when I came to college and with the help of friends and family, I have seen how my life has changed for the better There have been countless times where I will start do do something that would have been second nature in high school and before I do it, some verse or lesson that I have learned will point out how hopeless my actions would have been.
Growing up I always thought my parents were overprotective, and I constantly complained about how I could never do what my friends were doing or stay out as late as they could. As I have matured and learned to make choices on my own, I realized that my parents weren’t trying to be mean or strict, they were just trying to guide me in the right direction. There is such a fine line between sheltering your children too much and giving them too much freedom. That has to be one of the toughest jobs in parenting. My parents have helped instill a set of values to fall back on when I start going the wrong direction. I have no idea what decisions I would be making or where I would be had I not had these values instilled in me. So yes, I agree that freedom is very important but it can also be very dangerous. If you can’t be good until you are free, then what about being corrupt? Wouldn’t you have to then say that freedom also allows others to be more corrupt? I think that what people do with their freedom has a strong correlation with how people were raised and the experiences they had growing up. How do people who grew up in a corrupt environment learn to be good and learn to build a virtous foundation without having the guidance many of us were blessed with? I honestly don’t know the answer, but I do know that many people learn through the actions of others and therefore because I was blessed to grow up in a moral environment, I should be very conscious of the choices I make and how they effect others.
Very interesting article, I strongly agree with the idea of freedom. Only when a person has total responsibility for their actions do they have the opportunity to truly mold their own character. You can teach someone right and wrong, but it is ultimately their actions that determine where they stand.
A number of people love having someone else tell them what to do. Many people willingly sacrifice some freedom of choice to simply have someone accompany them in future failure. Sharing freedom of choice is often an insurance policy bought to hedge against potential failure.
While it is often scary and uncomfortable to take full responsibility for your actions, it is the only way to ensure you are the primary sculptor of your character, not someone else. It is always tempting involve outside parties in the decision making process, but to ensure optimum growth it is important to make a consistent commitment to independent thinking. Make your own decisions and let the chips fall where they may.
I couldn’t agree more that choice is definitely needed to be good. I think I was very lucky to have grown up with parents who also struggled with similar situations you mentioned in your blog but in the end they gave me the foundation I needed to be able to make good decisions when the time came. Like you said being obedient is different from actually deciding to be good on your own. Although I do think being obedient is part of being good and it would be hard to find someone that I think is good but disobeys the law and everything their parents say. However simply being obedient is not enough to prove someone is good either.
The freedom to choose what path you want to follow is something people have always struggled with. I agree that it is not only the choice you make but also the motives behind that decision. Even if you are doing something that will ultimately help others I think the “goodness” of the act can be replaced by selfish motives. Such as donating money for the T-shirt or tax benefit. However, people are always going to be faced with choices in which they have to evaluate the good for others verses the benefit to themselves. In the end, I just hope my parents can be proud of the decisions they allowed me to make and I can be confident in myself to make good decisions when given that freedom to choose.
This is an interesting perspective, which connected two different areas in a way I never thought of. When I entered college, I noticed a clear change in the dynamic with my parents, as I was given freedom to make some decisions of my own, and at times didn’t really have a set of rules that had to be followed. At times, especially when dealing with political views, there were some spirited debates when I began to take my own viewpoint. At the end of the discussion, I was still given the freedom to believe what I wanted, or make whatever decision I wanted. With decisions that I made in areas that they may have previously made rules, I was given freedom to go in the opposite direction of them. In many situations, I was brought back to the “right” decision thanks to some of the values they instilled in me. I believe that I grew the most through the situations in which I made the “wrong” decision and later learned the correct path.
Before this article, I had never really connected this to the national debate that occurs with many issues of freedom vs. rules. In many situations, I have believed that the government should instill rules that protect the public interest. But, after making this connection, it may be more effective for people to have the freedom to choose their paths in situations that do not harm others. I believe it is far more effective for someone to learn the correct path on their own than for someone to tell them to follow a path because it is the right way.
Great post. From discussions with my parents, I know that letting go and allowing your kids to make their own decisions is one of the hardest things for a parent to do. However, it is definitely necessary. From around the age of 16, I have been able to make my own decisions about what to do with my life for the most part. I have had successes, and I have also fallen flat on my face. When I have needed help, my parents have been there to help guide or direct me, but they do not, under any circumstances, make my decisions for me. This parental decision has been instrumental for me as I have learned from my failures over the past five years.
Unlike my parents, trusting the people I care about to make decisions in their own best interest is difficult for me. I am constantly working on stepping back and letting people go their own direction. There are times when confrontation is appropriate, but there are other times when simply letting go is the best path for everyone involved.
I really enjoyed this post. Recently I was talking with my mom on the phone and we were discussing her take on parenting, and this issue of the freedom to choose came up. Growing up my parents were not very strict. They are the most loving parents you could ever meet and they cared a great deal about the safety of my brother and I, but they never imposed a curfew, we’re open to discussion on most topics, and trusted us to make wise decisions. I have never heard either of them raise their voices at me or my brother or eachother, and on the occasion that my brother or I misbehaved they would calmly explain to us that they were disappointed in our actions. They would ask us how, in retrospect we thought we should handle the situation, and encourage us to behave this way going forward. I can honestly say that the guilt that comes from knowing you have disappointed the parents that placed so much trust in you and respected you enough to make your own decisions, is enough to keep you up and night and make you change your behavior. Growing up I had friends whose parents were curfew Nazi’s and who were grounded every time they rolled their eyes at their mom or dad. I had seen my friends be yelled at by their parents, and I can attest that this usually led the children to feel resentment towards their parents rather than changing their behavior.
I asked my mom why she and dad had chosen not to be those kind of parents and I think her response is very much in line with your train of thought, Dr. Shaub. She said that “anyone can do the right thing when they are micromanaged by their parents. Your dad and I wanted you and your brother to learn right from wrong on your own. We did our best to model Christian values for you, to expose you to strong role models, and to help you up when you fell. We thougth it best that you make mistakes while under our roof, so that you can become a moral person before you head out into the real world.”
This freedom to choose is crucial in growing into a person with moral intentions. It is easy to follow the rules when they are laid out for you, but in truly trying times, when there is no obvious right answer, it is the values that one has developed for themselves through experience that will truly guide them.
I believe parents have the hardest job. They want to instill values and teach you how to be a “good” person, but on the other hand, they don’t want to be too strict and in turn cause you to rebel against them. I really don’t know where this line is drawn in between, but I hope that by the time I am a parent there is a manual about it! I have seen first hand in my family the parents that wanted to be the friend or the cool mom. Those kids had no one to answer to, no responsibilities, and in turn no respect for anyone but themselves. I believe these kids were doomed from the start with no foundation to build on. I have also seen the parents who monitor phone calls, check over homework the night before, make curfew a rediculously early hour for the 18-year old senior. These kids learn respect, rules, and right and wrong, but they also don’t really have a choice. They are seen as the obedient kids who would never do any wrong- that is until the moment they get two seconds of freedom. This lifestyle is unnatural and will quickly falter. Everyone wants a little freedom and will eventually break if they have been tied to a certain way of life for so long. I think these kids will go though a rebellious stage, and for the most part will remember the morals they were taught growing up and return there, but I do think some will never get back on the right path. This is scary for a parent to hear because they really do need to be in the middle- but where exactly is that happy medium. I think parents need to instill values and morals early on in their children’s lives. They need to let their kids be kids and make mistakes, but when they do, teach them how to bounch back and learn from those mistakes, not taking the easy way out and just punishing them. By doing this, I think kids will grow up to have a strong moral background and as a result will act ethically and morally for the rest of their life and careers.
I really enjoyed reading this article and agreed with everything that was said! For most of us, we are given our first moral compass from our parents, whether it is based on a religious aspect or as simple as knowing right from wrong. With this initial understanding of what it means to be a good person, we enter high school thrown all sorts of decisions that test our character. The good thing about this “transitioning” period is that our parents are still there overlooking our decisions, making sure we don’t lose sight of those initial values. It’s not until we leave for college and have complete freedom that our ethical character is truly tested. For the last eighteen years we were probably more concerned with just being compliant because we knew the consequences that would result if we weren’t. But as we head out to the real world we don’t have anyone overlooking our every decision holding us accountable if we choose the wrong path, we have to make these decisions because we feel it’s the right thing to do. I totally agree with Dr. Shaub in that our parents teach us compliance with rules, but it’s when we are on our own that we choose the reason why we do things, is because we just want to be compliant or because you want to be good and do good.
I can only imagine how tough it must be at times to let your children be free to make their own choices and to do the right thing; not because of their parents, but because of their own personal beliefs. I have known countless people who lived guarded and secluded lives all through high school, only to go completely against how they were raised in college due to the new found freedom. It seems that at least for children as they grow up need rules to teach them right from wrong, but at some point they need to decide what that is for themselves. I wonder if it’s the same for everyone, should you only be free until are ready and have been prepared for it? What would happen without laws to restrict some peoples freedom (freedom to do whatever they want)?
I really like reading this post. It’s funny that you are blogging about this because my mom is going through that same transition with my little brother right now. i know for me, my parents tried to protect me throughout all of high school. Back then I didn’t like it at all but now looking back I know for a fact they were just trying to give me the best life they could think of. When I got into college I was amazed with the freedom that I had and I loved it. I am lucky that I found very good friends with morals and behaviors like what i had. I know very good people that were just like me in high school (very sheltered, tight family life, didn’t drink, etc.) and when they found the freedom in college they went crazy. So i agree with you from everything that I have seen in my life that parenting is a very tough thing. You always want to protect your kids but there comes a time when you need to let them live their lives and you can just pray that you taught them the right things for them be free and do good at the same time.
I really enjoyed this post because I feel it is so true to my life. My parents taught me right from wrong while still giving me the freedom to make my own choices. I think that some parents can be too strict and therefore make their children more concerned with the consequences that they will face if they do not make the right choice rather than the reasons behind it all. In these cases, the child is more likely to rebel when they are given a little freedom for the mere fact that they don’t have anyone to hold them accountable anymore. When I went to college my parents told me that they had given me all the guidance and support that they could and now they just hoped that I would continue to remember all that they taught me when making my own choices without them. I found that I still lived by the morals that they instilled in me growing up even without them being present. While of course I still make mistakes, I know what my moral foundation is and where it came from.
I think there is a stage in everyone’s life where they start to branch out and have a need to feel independent. That is just part of growing up. However, there are many defining moments in our youth, and we need a guiding hand to protect and influence us in a positive, respectful, and moral way. Looking back, I was an “obedient” child who did exactly as my parents said. Some may argue that I was not free as you said, but without that structure in the early stages of my life I would not be the independent person I am today. Parenthood is a whole new can of worms. The older I get the more I appreciate my parents! Thanks for writing this Dr. Shaub!!
“help them understand why…” is the second sentence of your article, and I think it is one of the most important parts.
I have often heard stories of sheltered children going off to college and going “crazy” with the decisions that they make, and it makes me wonder if their parents ever explained to them why they established rules in the first place.
I greatly enjoyed reading this article because I believe my younger years looked something like the description you gave above – parents guiding, but ultimately letting go, trusting me to make good decisions. I remember however, somewhere between the age of 6-8 constantly asking WHY. Why broccoli, why homework, why bedtime, why no tv… and on it went. To the point, where I remember my father banning the word “why” from my vocabulary.
It didn’t stop me.
While at that age I was simply trying to be obnoxious, I soon started asking the question out of a desire to understand my parents wishes. And that is when I really began to respect them. It turns out, parents usually have good reasons to set boundaries in places that at first may seem too restrictive. As I have gotten older, I only trust my parents more, and even as a college student, I often call home to seek wise counsel.
“My son, hear the instruction of thy father, And forsake not the law of thy mother” Proverbs 1:8
It was a lot easier for me to follow this proverb once I started asking why… after the age of 8 of course.
Many good points were made here. Parents must find the perfect medium in raising their children. If they shelter them too much and make all of the choices for them, the child is likely to fall off the face of the Earth into oblivion when they leave home. Too few rules, and the child will be unable to see the difference in what is morally right and wrong in this world. My parents left us free to make choices when we were in high school, but those choices we made had to follow with the rules that our parents had given us and that followed along with our Faith.
It is no different with business ethics. The professor could very easily hold the hands of the students and tell them exactly what the answer is supposed to be in every situation, but what Dr. Shaub has done has given his students freedom inside of rules, such that we will have when we are working professionals. We always have freedom of choice, but those choices must always be made to go along with the morals we have developed and the laws that are in place to guide us.
I was amused to hear your comparison between kids that realize choice at a young age and those that realize it later (like your own children). My older brother and I were very much the latter, but my family has struggled with my younger brother who exercises his (assumed) freedom at a much younger age. It scares me to see how easy it is for him to make his own very serious decisions at a younger level, when I didn’t even see the opportunity at his age. Although we all develop at different paces, it seems as though that freedom of choice is being realized at younger and younger ages as time goes on. It makes me wonder and worry about what MY kids will be like!
Also, the understanding of the fact that “goodness” is only true when one is free is a humble way to look at your parenting. It’s true, of course, but something I’ve never put together.
I really like the title of this blog, and i think this is an interesting topic. I think as children we do have a choice to either do what our parents say or not to, to be ethical or not. I think that as a child we are worried about the consequences of not doing the right thing. When we go to college we still have a choice to be good or not, but for me at least, I still have my parent’s voices in my head telling me what is right or wrong. Instead of consequences of not listening to to voices, I am worried about my duty to my parents to be a good person.
Your comments reminded me of a topic in class… “Your desire has to be right – you can’t hate being virtuous, and be virtuous.” This follows in line with my (and many others’) definition of integrity – doing the right thing when no one is looking. You have to truly want to do the right thing because of your moral code, not to keep up appearances or avoid consequences.
I believe that as a parent it is your job to set a great example and instill in your children a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. It is your duty as a parent to help guide them in developing their moral code of conduct. However, at the end of the day, they must want to do the right thing; it can’t be forced upon them. I feel like my parents instilled a desire within me to have and uphold a strong level of integrity and unwavering character. It was their influence that inspired me to want to make good decisions, but it is my desire to be “good” that enables me to actually make those hard decisions.
You spoke about the difference between complying with rules and doing good. I think this can definitely apply to business. How many sketchy things happen in business because they are just in the legality boundary? How many times do people justify actions by saying it was legal?
I believe this thinking applies to all different forms of relationships and business. For instance, you can’t place tons of rules on a relationship with a significant other and expect it to be healthy. You have allow some freedom to show the person you trust them.
I think you could make the argument for less regulation in business based on that thought process. The more rules you put in place, the more you will justify barely being in the boundaries of “legal.” However, I do realize there are good reasons for regulation in specific cases. In general though, I’m in favor of less regulation.
This article reminded me of a story I heard in a sermon by John Piper. Piper asked the audience (rhetorically) if it would make his wife happy if he begrudgingly brought her flowers one day. “Here. I’m supposed to be nice to you because you’re my wife, so take these.” The obvious answer was no. It does nothing for the joy or happiness of either party to do something out of a sense of compliance. Begrudgingly following rules or principles does not produce the desired results. Individuals’ actions that result in the same end are not equal. Those who (in exercising their freedom) intend upon acting a certain way, are far more likely to achieve the outcome than those who are forced to act.
As human beings, what separates us from other creatures is our free will. However, because we have free will, it does not give us the freedom to do whatever we want. Our free will is given to us so that we may choose that which is good, truthful, and beautiful. Free will means that we cannot live in our own bubble, as doing good requires service to those around us, being truthful requires not building walls to keep people on the outside, and seeking beauty involves looking at a person with love regardless of what he/she has done in the past or physically appears. I know that if I had children, I would desire them to seek this with their whole heart, but I can’t choose for them. A trust has to be there for them to make their own decisions. Luckily for your children (and me), they have parents that are there to support and love them regardless of the decisions they make.
What a great article! I was raised in the same manner and I honestly believe that when parents give their children freedom and trust the relationship works so much better. For me, I felt an obligation to keep my parents trust and to uphold their reputation. I never wanted to do anything that could cause me to lose the freedoms I was given. It also allowed me to define what my values were. It was my decision to not get into trouble, come home at a decent hour, and be involved in different activities. The rewards or consequences I faced were based on my decisions and I was able to learn from them and I took full responsibility.
“And you cannot be good unless you are free.” There is so much truth to this statement, but the obvious problem arises in that freedom also allows for the opposite of good, evil. I believe all people have an innate knowledge of what is right and wrong. Proof of this can be seen in the common values that all people share such as lying and stealing are wrong and courage is honorable. The difficulty arises when people choose to do wrong and are numbed to their innate knowledge of right. This gives rise to laws and rules that are meant to prevent harm rather than to promote good. As you eluded to, it creates a culture of compliance instead of one seeking to do good.
I am personally excited to see the social responsibility movement in business. Even if it is a strategic move to make the business more profitable through goodwill, it is a move in the right direction of going above merely compliance. Laws set a minimum of what’s considered right, and I applaud these organizations for going above what is required to benefit the greater society that they serve.
I really enjoyed reading this entry. Although I was not given many rules growing up, I always tried to make decisions that I thought would make my family proud. I think my parents lived under the impression that if they gave me too many rules or made things too hard on me, I would be sure to rebel. They gave me the tools necessary to make the right decisions, but then let me make decisions on my own. For a while, I thought I was making these decisions only because I wanted to please my family. But as I left for college and have been on my own for the past four years, I realized that I make these decisions because they help me to become the person that I want to be.
Dr. Shaub, I really enjoyed reading this article. A person’s being good does not end with their compliance to a rule; their heart behind their actions is equally important. I don’t know much about parenting, but it sounds like my parents used a style very similar to your’s. From my observations, it is important for a parent to give his/her children increasing freedom as they grow older. Many of my friends who had very strict parents didn’t really know how to act once they were in college. Sadly, many of them acted in ways that I’m sure they regret. The most important thing my parents did for me was instill in me the values they thought most important – faith, selflessness, etc. I am very thankful for my parents. I think I would be a different person without their influence.
I loved reading this blog Dr. Shaub. This really opened my eyes to the way my parents raised me and my brothers. Growing up, we were always very obedient children and, as you mentioned above, were complimented by others for our “good’ behavior. However, now I realize that it was not necessarily “good” behavior, but just obedient behavior. Now that I am in college and have the freedom and ability to make my own choices, one can really determine whether I can be considered a “good” person by moral standards. When a person enters college and starts discovering the person they want to be, he must be cognizant of the fact that he is now the only person responsible for protecting his reputation. He is the only one who will be forced to deal with the consequences of his actions. If you are aware of these things, then it will be easier to make decisions between right and wrong.
This is a great blog topic and I really enjoyed reading it! I feel like this article describes my parents in that they too gradually gave me more and more freedom will growing up. While maturing, I was given the responsibility to make decisions while still living at home. Now, don’t get me wrong they were quite strict when I was younger, but eventually as they guided me through life they gave me more freedom. Which was important and eventually helped ease my transition to college and basically living on my own without anyone to be there and tell me I was doing things “right” or “wrong”. I can’t even imagine how difficult parenting must be, but I hope one day I can do all for my kids that my parents have done for me.
Realizing that you are at the age that you can make your own choices and decisions can come at anytime. I learned younger than most because I had older siblings to show me the way. It wasn’t that now I was able to stand in defiance against my parents but it was that now I was able to stand determinedly for my wants and needs. I have seen many people whose opinions were formed based on the fact that they didn’t know there were other options out there. I completely agree that individuals like this cannot fully form an understanding of good until they see the other side. How can you do “good” if you don’t have the freedom to understand the world you are living in?
I would have to say that this topic has to be one of the hardest parts of being a parent. I can completely relate to this topic because my mom and step dad are struggling with this situation right now with my step brother who is a senior in high school. He finds it very hard to understand why he isn’t allowed to do everything that his friends do and why my parents are so hard on him when it comes to grades and track (hes a very talented runner). A perfect example is this weekend. Prom was Friday night, and his group of friends is planning on heading to San Antonio until Monday to go to Six Flags and the Riverwalk, etc. My step brother has a very important district meet on Tuesday that he has planned to break the school record at. Because of this, my parents are picking him up from San Antonio a day earlier and bringing him back home so that he can be well rested and prepared for his big race. Although he is very motivated about track, he is also really disappointed that he has to miss out on the full experience that his friends get to have. I remember going through similar things when I was in high school and its funny to look back now and watch my step brother going through them. I used to think that my parents had no reasoning for making the rules that they did, but now that I’m older it makes complete sense. Its so important for parents to instill a moral compass in their children and serve as good role models. It is also important for people to realize how essential it is to have your priorities in line. When I read your post the first thing that came to my mind was “who are you when no one is looking?” I feel like this is a true test of character and is a reflection of your upbringing.
I am blessed because I was raised in a Christian home. My parents taught me how to live and make decisions by their example and in rules and conversations. I have a unique opportunity and perspective, because I am the oldest of five children. My youngest sister is nine, thirteen years younger than I. I have watched as my parents have disciplined her and my brother who is two years older than she. She obviously receives guidance and they control the majority of what she does, but I see evidence that her personality has developed so much based on whom she is around. She has three older sisters – one in high school and two in college. She acts older than her age, asked for a cell phone before she was in kindergarten, and is independent and confident. I realize that her perspective and personality has been molded by our family. While my parents are a great influence in her life, so am I. It is a responsibility that I must remember and act upon.
All parents definitely go through this with their children, and I feel that it is the friends of the children that have the biggest impact on whether or not they will be “good”. My sister was much more rebellious and adventurous than my brother or I were (which continues even to today since she now lives in China), even though my parents raised us all under the same basic guidelines. Her friends were just raised under the set of standards that it was okay to be like that. My brother and I had the same type of friends for the most part-respectful, active, and scared to go against what Mom and Dad say.
As I grew up, I began to understand what my parents always preached to us, and since I now knew the effect friends can have on me, I tried to find friends who aligned their values with mine. I continue each day to understand what my parents meant by the certain things they taught me, and I just pray that I will be able to do half as good of a job raising my children in the future as they did raising me.
This blog reminds me of the way my parents raised my sisters and I. As we grew up they continually gave us more and more freedom. But if we were to ever break the rules they gave us, lie, or betray their trust, we knew it would all be taken away. Because of this, I never wanted to do anything to jeopordize that. I think because my parents raised me this way, it was what ultimately led me to make good choices in college. Because I was gradually given freedom with boundaries, I never felt the need to rebel and go crazy in college. In every relationship, trust is needed for it to be healthy.
For me growing up, my parents set rules and guidelines just like most parents and expected us to obey them. My older brother was always a lot better at obeying these rules than I was, but I think I always kind of understood the big picture. I believe that freedom is something that we earn. We are put under these rules and expected to follow them, and we learn why we have these rules as we get older. Once you get to college, you not only have the freedom to make everyday choice like whether you should go out really late or skip class or something, but you also have the freedom to choose your friends. I think that is the biggest part of growth in college. The people that I’m around make me want to become a better person, and I am very thankful for their friendships.
Without freedom, I don’t know how you can decide what values are important to you, because they wouldn’t be your values. They would be the person’s putting the rules on you. Having the freedom to make choices allows us to learn from our mistakes and really see what’s important in life.
I enjoyed this article because it gave me the opportunity to see a parent’s perspective. I think a lot of times as kids we think our parents rules are so unreasonable and are just put in place to prevent kids from having fun. But as we grow up, we begin to realize that our parents always have our best interests in mind and are just preparing us for the real world when we will have the freedom to make our own decisions.
I think it is important for parents to continually give their children more and more freedom as they get older, so when kids do leave for college they have practiced making their own decisions. I think we all know those parents who were so overbearing to their children in High School, so when the children got to college they took advantage of all the freedom and made wrong choices.
This post makes me think about a quote from the show Modern Family: “Your kids don’t need to know who you were before you had them. They need to know who you wish you were and then try to live up to that person. They’re gonna fall short. But better they fall short of the fake you than the real you.” I feel like most parents do this, and how are you not suppose to? I know that when I have children, there will be a couple of stories that they will not hear, but this is for their own good! You can set as many rules as you want, but your children will eventually just follow by example; if you show them how to be good people, they will, and everyone is allowed to make a few mistakes along the way.
As the oldest child in my family I have always been the responsible child, and as I grew older, my parents gave me more freedom. My younger brother, on the other hand, was held on a tight leash the entire time he lived with my parents because they didn’t think he could handle taking care of himself (he is the typical boy with a short attention span and an interest in sports instead of homework). It was very hard for my mom especially to have faith that he would do well in college. Not to mention that my parents live overseas and my brother and I go to colleges in different states. But sometimes you just have to have blind faith and know that you raised them right. And although my brothers grades are by no means perfect, he has done really well taking care of himself in college and has made both my parents and I proud.
Very interesting blog, Dr. Shaub–I particularly like the “choosing to be good” versus “compliance” distinction. I would probably fall on the freedom side of the argument. I don’t believe governments should (or can) legislate morality; in my mind, that responsibility should always be in the hands of the parents.
It’s scary to think that I will be dealing with these same parental issues in the (somewhat) near future when my parents so recently went through the same thing with me. Rita’s comment about the shifting of ethical frameworks as we age is intriguing, and I think it parallels parental attitudes towards their children. As children develop, their reasoning for acting “good” shifts, and parental guidelines should adjust accordingly.
It seems we may be in the presence of an economic genius:
“…that in the end people must be free to choose how to live…”
– Dr. Shaub
“But let it leave us free to choose what chances we want to take with our own lives.”
– Milton Friedman
In the case the Nobel committee decides to create the Nobel Memorial Prize in Accounting Sciences, I would like to be the first to nominate Dr. Michael Shaub of Texas A&M University.
Your thesis can be carried to nearly every disagreement in society today. Should parents tell their kids how to act, or should the kids learn on their own (including punishment)? Should government decide the direction of society, or should the people choose what they want to become?
“A life well lived” is what is desired. What an eternal perspective. Imagine a country where that was the goal of the individual, of society. Imagine how the laws would change if that really was the desire. There would be nearly no need for this discussion of regulation versus “free-will.” Parents would instill a desire to live life well, and the individual would make decisions accordingly.
I really enjoyed this post Dr. Shaub. I think it is easier to be good when you have parents or other superiors who are guiding you on how to act all you have to do is obey. The real test of being good comes when you have to choose it all by yourself. My parents sound a bit like you. They always set boundaries for my sisters and me while we were in high school, but eventually it got to the point where they didn’t even have to express those boundaries to me. Rather, I knew what was expected of me and I wanted to fulfill my responsibility to my parents to be a good daughter as best I could. Coming to college I knew they would not be around to watch out for me and make sure that I was behaving as I ought to. But again, my overriding duty to my parents to be an upstanding individual kicked in and I felt that making the choice to be good was not even a choice anymore, it was a way of life. I am so blessed to have parents like mine. They helped me to realize that being good should not be a choice but it should be a desire that overrules any desire to act otherwise.
I wish I could have read this article before I started college. As I am sure many students do I went crazy with freedom my freshman year and now I regret some of the things that I did or didn’t do. I really hope that I will remember to give my future children some freedom while they are still at home so that they will not have to make such a large adjustment when they leave. I think that making a few mistakes and then being responsible for those mistakes is the only way that someone can learn to be accountable and understand that they must earn success if they desire it.
At first glance, transfering values into free-thinking individuals seems like quite the paradox. But as I reflect upon my life to this point, I see that it can be done. I can’t really pinpoint when or where it happened, but somehow my parents instilled a set of values in me that guide my decision making. For some time now, I have had a great deal of freedom to make my own decisions. Interestingly enough, I find that the vast majority of the time, I make the decision that, given the opportunity, I think my parents would have made for me. Sometimes I feel concern that I can’t really pinpoint what my parents did to achieve this. Mostly because I’m not sure how I am going to do it when the time comes. Ultimately, I guess this is what being a parent is about and I have to trust that my experiences to that point will have prepared me.
I couldn’t agree more with this article. I was always known as a good kid growing up and living at home because I respected my parents and did what they asked. I didn’t always do what they asked, but for the most part I did. When I got to college I really had a chance to go out and be myself. I was filled with free choices and opportunities and unfortunately I didn’t always pull from my upbringing to guide me in making the right choice to continue to be a “good person.” I fell on my face a few times, but luckily I have been able to move back towards the values and duties that my parents instilled in me while I was younger. I think I had to see what both sides of the fence where like, before I truly accepted and took to heart my parent’s teachings on what it meant to be a good person. I know they are proud of me now, but there were a few times along the way where I really made them question their parenting skills and for that I am truly sorry.
Dr. Schaub, this is by far the best of your blog posts that I have read. I am of the libertarian mindset and agree that freedom is the key to our success, and less regulation is always a good thing. There was a time when we didn’t have all these socialist welfare programs or intense government regulations, and people made it by just fine on their own. Whether it was through hard work, good decisions, or a little luck, people survived.
God gave us all a conscious and the skills to succeed. However, it is our decisions and our utilization of these skills that decides whether or not we are successful and whether or not we are “good people.”
There should be a stage in your life when you want to make decisions for yourself. When you do not want to have to rely on your parents for survival and become your own being, your own decision maker. However, for everyone that is not the case. This is partly due to the entitlement systems our government and parents provide to us, and partly due to pure laziness and lack of motivation on the part of the American people.
As Americans we need to realize we are the role models of the world. We must revert to our roots and become men of our individual loins, and not rely on someone else to decide or provide for us.
I remember you saying that you tell your kids that, “Shaubs don’t lie.” You instilled this mentality and pride in your kids so they would understand the choices you want them to make, like not lying. I feel this was the way my parents operated as well. They set guidelines and family standards. They never told me I had to do something or forced me into anything. They guided me in the direction they wanted and built trust and love. Growing up, my parents encouraged me to do my best and participate in things I enjoyed and that made me better. I saw them doing the same things and built my opinion of what is good on this picture. Now, I have been given the freedom to make my own choices, but I have a frame of mind built on my opinion of my parents and their guidelines. Because our views aline, I often make decisions that satisfy both myself and my parents. Occasionally our views don’t aline, and then my parents let me know that my decision making needs to be modified.
When my older brother and I were very young (both of us less than 3 years old), my parents moved our family half way around the world to southeast Asia for my father’s job. There, not even two years later, my younger sister was born. So, here my mother was with three children under the age of 5 in a foreign country with my father working all day. No grandparents to help; no aunts and uncles to babysit while my mom ran to the market. When eventually my mother’s parents made the 24 plus hour trip to visit. My grandmother told my mother, ‘You run your household like it’s a boot camp. Your children have no freedom.’ While I see my grandmother’s point, I can also see my mother’s point. Here she was in a different culture, not knowing who she could trust to be around her children, let alone watch her children while she was away. No one was going to care for her children like she did. Thus, I grew up in an extremely strict household. No going anywhere without my mother taking me. No just running to the park to meet friends. No riding bikes faster than the group (which was always irritating as my young sister did not take to riding bikes as my brother and I did). The answer was pretty much standard – no. Even when we moved back to the United States, I think we were so used to the way of life overseas, as we had been there 7.5 years, nothing really changed. My father still put the fear of God in me by just saying my name sternly and there were things I did not even request because I knew the answer – no.
Most people would have bet (and I’m pretty sure some of my extended family did), that when I went off to college and had a taste of freedom, I was going to be a wild child. However, that was not how it panned out. Were there things that my parents possibly could have been more lenient on? Absolutely. Am I going to raise my children exactly the way I was raised? Absolutely not. But if it hadn’t been for all the experiences I have had, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I know who I am; I am grounded in my beliefs, and I have a strong foundation that has set me up for future success. My parents have given me everything I could have needed and more. They were never short on love, time, or presents for their three children. So, yes, in order to be good, you must first be free. But, in order to learn good, you must first be taught. We must first have a foundation in order to know what, how and when to build. That is what my parents did exceptionally, and that is what we are learning through classes such as Dr. Shaub’s ethics class.
I actually had a conversation about this with my mom today. We were discussing the struggle to balance freedom with kids in order to protect them from the bad things in this world. My mom always told us her job was to keep us in a “rose colored bubble” for as long as she could. We specifically talked about how some parents expose their children to tv shows and movies meant for adults. One of the things I most appreciate about my mom was the fact that she didn’t allow me to be exposed to inappropriate television. At the time I hated it, but looking back it is definitely something I will do for my own children.
As far as choosing our own books in class, I think I’ve benefited quite a bit as far as determining my principals from my book. I don’t know if I would feel the same if the book had been chosen for me. I’m reading Blue Like Jazz, a book that discusses the authors thoughts on Christianity and how he developed his views through his life. The main message seems to be love all people more than yourself, like Christ loves you. I look forward to reading my book each week and it has reaffirmed my own beliefs about God and the principals he has given us to live by.
Such a great topic to write about, and such a scary thought to think about in regards to my future. I know growing up, there were many nights when I would have considered my parents to be “too strict”, but looking back I know that I had a lot more freedom than some other children. I don’t know if they had some sort of formula, but I do know that I am very grateful for the healthy balance of freedom and healthy balance of discipline that they gave me. I think that through this, they were able to show me what the line was, and instill in me a lot of the values I have today.
If one day I am blessed with a family, I know that one of the greatest challenges I have ever faced will be to raise my kids in a way that leads them to live ethically. I hope that I will be able to remember the great example and leadership that my parents showed me, and also take some other examples from the great men and women I have met in my life. I know if I have a daughter, I will want to be super-protective and never let her talk to a guy, but I know this is unreasonable. There must be a balance between giving them freedom, and protecting them. What exactly this balance is, I still don’t know
While I agree with you that being “good” is a choice that we have to make individually, I believe that we draw heavily on our past experience. One of our guest speakers, spoke of a study that showed that by the age of two you have already developed your sense of right and wrong. This carries through with you into your later life. When I went into college I had a lot more freedom than I had in high school. No one was looking over my shoulder watching my every move. However when I was making decisions, my parents wishes always came to mind. It was a force of habit. To this day I still consider what my parents would think was just and right. They have set a great example for me and I plan on attempting to set a similar example for my future children.
The one statement that stuck out to me was: But children who have their decisions made for them are not really “good.”
I agree that when given more freedom, we are forced to make more independent decisions. However, children make several decisions starting from elementary school. I started seeing good vs bad at a very young age. Dr. Smith said integrity is when you know what’s right and then do it. Most children are taught what’s right, so they know, yet some still go against that knowledge. The most common “wrong” actions you see among these students: cheating, underage drinking, fighting, bringing weapons to school, drugs, promiscuity, etc. Regardless of being told what is right and being told what to do, some still fail to make the right decision. I have five brothers and sisters, and for a few years both of my parents worked. Unless we were watching one another, we had some freedom at a young age. Fortunately, I had excellent parents who cared about all six of their children and what is best for us.
This article was very interesting to me to think about. Now that I look back at myself and sisters growing up it is definitely apparent what your are talking about. I definitely think my parents had a huge role in helping me to learn to make my own decisions. It is interesting though the timing of the transition. My sisters varied on when it happened, my oldest definitely happened when she went to college, my parents were much more strict on her in high school so she definitely fell into obedience during that time but then got to college and flourished as well. My middle sister took a little longer, she was much more dependent on my mom and even after she got to college would often use my mother to bail out some of her decisions. After watching both of these I became independent very quickly. My parents backed off of me around Jr. year of high school and I felt like that really helped me become who I am. I had a solid group of friends that were doing the right things and were about the right things and I think having that environment to become free in, while still being around my parents was something that really benefited me.
I enjoyed reading this post. I never really thought about it, but my parents instilled important values on me at a young age. As I got older, they trusted me to maintain those values and I received the freedom to make my own choices. I think it’s important to have a role model at a young age, no matter if it’s parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., to exemplify good morals and ethics.
Just a thought – It seems that when the rules are suffocating, people tend to detract from them in order to taste a breath of freedom. On the other hand, if there are no boundaries, things can get out of control.
Excellent point about the difference between being compliant, and being good. This transition towards freedom can be a difficult one. Mistakes are often made, but these mistakes can be learned from and growth takes place.
I can think of some families that smother their children with regulation forcing them to always make the right choices. Then, when the time comes for these children to transition into adulthood they struggle to make the right choices on there own.
I enjoyed this post because I believe that there is a balance between freedom and strictness that parents should give there children. Too often, I find that rebellious and troublesome children are the product of too strict of an upbringing. I was always given a fair amount of freedom and it enabled me to figure out things on my own while knowing how and what I was expected to achieve. Some sense of regulation is necessary because it serves as a guide in growing up. People need to learn how to make decisions for themselves because when they go out on their own unethical people might try to make them for you. I think that being good is having an moral expectation for yourself and acting in ways to lead you to that expectation.
I cannot begin to imagine how complicated parenting must be. Dr. Shaub, the ways in which you describe your duties as a father to your children, as well as a husband to your wife are extremely inspirational. Your theories on parenting seem so straight forward and well put together. However, judging from my own family, I do not believe that there is one appropriate way to develop children into becoming good people. I say this because my brother and I were raised in the exact same household with the exact same rules and principles. However, we have turned out to be completely different people. As a matter of fact, we could be considered complete opposites. It is difficult for me to pin-point a reason for this variance. I attribute it to our different personalities, but that doesn’t necessarily explain the enormous discrepancy that exists. We have both been living on our own for many years now, and while I like to think the freedom I was given had a positive impact on me, I would say that my brother has done nothing but abuse this very freedom. These are just thoughts of mine, I do understand that your overall point it not that freedom makes people good, but more that it takes freedom to give people the opportunity to become good people.
I thought this was an interesting read; this is most certainly a perspective that I have never considered.
I do agree that the beauty of doing what is right is never fully experienced until you have the distinct option of doing what is wrong. The years spent at home are an exercise in doing what is right, or at least having an easy option of trying it. Even with a tremendous amount of rules and regulations, kids- any kid, can get away with bad things. Having parents with strict rules, like my own, is a great excuse to live well though. It was much easier for me in high school to blame not drinking on my parents strict rules than it was for me to explain to my friends that I did not believe it was right. I always sigh in frustration and would say “Sandra would kill me.” Truth is, I was deeply grateful that Sandra spoke softly and carried a big stick; it was a gift to a boy trying to be a good man. College has been an exercise in doing the right thing with a few less restraints and graduating will be an exercise is doing with right thing with even less restraints. I am most definitely glad for the years spent on training wheels though; they make this bike much easier to steer.
I think I was actually given too much freedom when I was younger. It was either too much freedom or not enough guidance before the freedom came; I’m not sure. Once I figured out that I had a choice, I knew I could do whatever I wanted, and I did. I turned out OK in the long run, but it has been a long bumpy road. I think it’s ok to slowly release the power to your children, as long as you have instilled the right values in them.
I am the second of four and I feel like me and my siblings are all good genuinely good people. Honest, trustworthy and stand up for what is right. I have talked with my parents some about their thoughts on their parenting style. My mom simple said that its not really a style that you can apply to all kids. Rather a set of principles that they use to guide their judgment. She said that they have raised each one of us in a slightly different manner. My older sister was always one to act first and discover consequence later so my parents we more strict on her, hoping to deter her from poor decisions. My mother said that my entire life I was one to weigh the consequence and I was able to detach emotion from decisions so that I was able to make the most informed and correct course of action. My little sister is more a free spirit, and some what of a mix between me and my older sister when it come to decisions making. So my parents try to treat her this way, be strict at times and then offer a large amount of freedom. And finally my littler brother, who my mom said is nothing like the rest of us, is completely off the wall. You are never quite sure what he is going to do. My mom says they are still trying to come up with an effective way to help guide him to a strong ethical and moral code. Over all I believe that there is not a universal guide to raising children and that giving freedoms and hoping that they have taken a good set of principles from their early childhood is the best bet. Of course this might change once I have my own parenting experiences.
I really enjoyed reading this from the perspective as you as a parent. Your experience with your children sounds much like my own family experience. People told my parents that they had great kids, and quite honestly, we were. Sometimes we were out of line, but for the most part we were compliant. We followed the rules that were laid out for us, but we really had no choice. If we lived in my parents house, we were going to follow their rules. No questions. Once I got to college, I got my real taste of freedom. Every now and then, I may have strayed a little from the things that I was taught to value, but I always came back to them. I realized that they were not only my parent’s values, but my own as well. When given the opportunity of freedom to choose for myself, I choose exactly as my parents had. This is because they were great parents! Parents have such a great responsibility in establishing their morals and values in their children. My parents clung to the biblical promise of, “Raise a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not stray from it.” I hope that I can do the same one day.
You mentioned that kids who have their decisions made for them are not really “good”. One might argue that kids can be good even if they are not “free to choose”. After all, if they are choosing to be obedient, isn’t that good? On the other hand, one might argue that kids are acting as consequentialists, and that is what makes them well behaved. They don’t want to lose privileges as a result of disobeying their parents.
However, I believe that good kids do exist. My younger sister is one example. She is in high school, and is one of the few truly good people that I know. High school is usually a time that kids rebel against their parents. However, my sister has already developed into a mature young woman who really respects the boundaries that my parents set for her. She almost always has a great attitude, even when she disagrees with my parents decisions. And besides that, she is always looking for ways to help others. No, she does not have the freedom to make all of her own decisions. But I believe that being good is about more than that.
This is your definition of good:
“What do I mean by good? I mean they will choose to value others the way they do themselves, and sometimes even more. I mean they will not violate a trust for their convenience or their gain. I mean they will speak truth when they speak, but they will not simply speak it to be hurtful. I mean they will help those less fortunate, not because they get a t-shirt or others command it, but because they value individual lives.”
Aren’t all of these things that kids can do, even if they are still under the guidance of their parents? I know that my sister qualifies. I am not saying she is perfect. I know she has her faults, but I do believe that just because kids don’t make their own decisions about school, curfew, and other things doesn’t mean that it is too soon to tell if they are truly good.
From what I have experienced and seen, I have to agree that most of us start making real choices in college. I loved how you mentioned that parents sometimes tighten the screws to make sure kids comply with their standards while under their roof, because I think most parents believe they do this. However, while many of my high school friends and I grew up in loving Christian homes with the tight screw rules, it did only make us rebel as you mentioned. Many of our parents took different routes to rein us in, but ultimately there was no solution. It was a heart issue for each of us, and we had the choice to go against our parents and the law. No matter how tight these screws we chose to break all rules that we could. Fortunately, upon entering college God changed my life and I was able to become “good”. But for many of those friends they are still choosing to make wrong decisions. I think children these days are beginning to break out of these bubbles parents try to place them in. The saddest part is the parents may not even know. I know my parents had no idea. Saying all of this, I think if you tighten the screws or not rebellious hearts will break through, and it is only with prayer and wisdom can parents combat this.
This blog really made me think. It is a connection I have never made before, that you must be free to be good. I agree that to truly be good, in your heart, you must be free. If you are not making your own decisions then the way you act is not a true reflection of your heart. I grew up in a fairly laid back household. My parents had the philosophy that as long as it was not harmful to me, I could make my own decisions. I did not have a curfew, could go wherever I wanted as long as I told my parents where I was, and even moved out before I turned 18. What might be surprising, is that even with all that freedom I overwhelming did the “good” thing. I think that is what makes it more meaningful. I was free to make the wrong decisions, but I chose to make the right ones. My brother had the same freedoms as I did but did not always make the right choices. People make different choices with their gift of freedom, and that is the beauty of it. With this said, I think that with my own kids I will make a little different decisions. I will do my best to not shelter them, but I also don’t want them to be exposed to harm. If you instill them with a strong set of morals and give them the freedom to make a mistake, it will make it that much sweeter when they choose to be good.
Dr. Schaub I love your differentiation between “good dooers” and choosing to be good. Actions often speak louder than words. However, if you can inspire students to choose to be good rather than do good you inspire a perpetual mindset instead of encouraging a single action. Actions follow passions and by inspiring passions actions are sure to follow. Having taken this class, the freedom you give to your students is at times somewhat frightening. I know for me personally, the free reign allowed in your class truly forces a students decisions to be their own and be well thought out. I truly believe that if you continue to challenge students to be good and give them the freedom to chose, while demonstrating what being good looks like in action, that you will continue to make a positive impact that will cause a mighty ripple effect across the future generations.
I love the final point you make here. You mention two sides of the conversation: those who want us to be good and those who want us to be free. The final connection is that we can only be good if we are free. What truth in that statement. In high school, my parents loosened the “reins” of rules and regulation a little earlier than a lot of my friends’ parents. I liked to believe that it was a result of building their trust over the years. College was a huge transition for me, but it wasn’t the extreme shock factor of being able to make my own decisions. During that time in my life, however, I learned firsthand the truth in your statement, we can only be good if we are free. I had built my parents’ trust over the years, but in building it, I got away with things they never knew about. I was a “good” kid, but was I being truly good in building their trust while I was really betraying it? I’ve grown a lot since then, and I’ve strived for that true goodness. You could be building trust in somebody’s eyes, but what good is it when you know you’re acting just the opposite? Only you know what you’re doing when nobody else is looking, and in striving for good in those situations, you are striving for what is truly good.
I wholly agree with your opinion on freedom Dr. Schaub. I find that many of my friends with extremely strict parents growing up have made some very poor decisions. Many times they rebel simply for the sake of proving the point that they are free adults. I think some parents, however, mistake freedom with a lack of accountability. Although people are free to do as they please, they are still a slave to consequences. Some of these are good consequences, such as a good grade for hard work. On the other hand, if you break the law, you might get a ticket. Many times parents give childeren freedom, but don’t discourage bad behavior and encourage good behavior. They simply are silent. Freedom may teach many lessons, but parents should also feel “free” to encourage their childeren to be good people!
There are many factors that influence us and shape who we are as we progress in our lives. Our enviornment, culture, friends and family have a lot to do with if go down the right path and become “good” kids. Growing up I always felt as if my mother was overprotective. I would constantly complain how restricted my freedom was compared to all of my friends at the time. However, as I look back now it’s so clear that she really had my best interest at heart.
Someone once told me that we are the average of five of our friends. Initially I didn’t think much of it, but as I matured, I realized how much truth that statement holds. When you have people in your life who think like you and hold similar values as you, usually they will support you in all your endevours as well. I believe that is an important element in how kids develop and ultimately become “good.” My mother used to always voice her opinon on some of the friends she felt were negative influences in my life, but overtime that was something I had to realize on my own. To this day I thank her for the values she instilled in me at a young age to be able to dechipher from right and wrong. I believe it’s a continual growth to become a good person; however your parents are there to lay that foundation.
I agree wholeheartedly with this, if you are not free and all choice is taken out of the matter then you are not necessarily good, you are simply compliant. I was homeschooled K-12th and was rather sheltered growing up. I am also the 3rd of 9 kids so there had to be some tight discipline in our house to keep everyone and everything in line. Overall we were extremely well-behaved; however, we never really had much of an option for anything else. If we acted out of line we were punished and since we were homeschooled we were practically always under parental supervision and there wasn’t much we could get away with.
Now I don’t want anyone to think I regret my upbringing at all, I think it was great. I learned a lot from my parents and they instilled many of th virtues I currently try to live my life by. However, it wasn’t till I was in college that I could really start cultivating these virtues since it was then that I had to make the choice to continue to live with them or to push them to the side.
I agree with what you have written, Dr. Shaub. Growing up, children should eventually be able to make their own choices and (hopefully) willingly choose the right ones for themselves, not because anyone is telling them to. My high school and college experience was a little bit like this — compared to most of my friends, I was given quite a bit of freedom during my teenage years. However, I was raised in such a way to make good decisions not because that’s what my parents wanted me to do, but because I truly believe they were the best decisions for me. And I am so thankful and blessed that I was able to see that at an early age. I’m not saying that I haven’t made mistakes or that I was a perfect teenager — I definitely was not — but being able to make my own choices reinforced why I believed the things I believed and strengthened my principles as I made the transition into college.
I strongly agree with what you have written about providing freedom for your children and students, Dr. Shaub. I remembered when I was a little girl, I hardly agree with my parents about their opinion because I preferred to believe the things I have seen or experienced. Now, I already grown up as an adult. after I experience things by myself, it has been proven that most of my patent’s opinion is right. I agree that we can not expect our child will listen to us, and follow us. They will figure out what is right, what is wrong, what kind of person they want to be.
As a young adult, I can see how difficult parenting can be when it comes to creating boundaries. I know that too many implications can lead to a child going wild in college because he or she has never had any freedom. There is a certain amount of trust that a parent must instill in their child no matter how hard it may be to do. If he or she is given no freedom, the child is usually more likely to make bad choices, at least from my experience. I appreciate that you have given us freedom to choose what to read during our ethics class because I feel that it gives us the opportunity to enjoy reading if we are allowed to choose what we want. The values that you have taught us to instill in ourselves including honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness, will carry forward with us as we transition into the workplace. I completely agree with giving freedom to a child or student because it lets the person live his or her life.
The conection between being free and being good is one not often recognized. Yet it is so important. I was the yougest in my family and therefore had the experience of watching my two older sisters make mistakes. I was also given more freedom at a younger age. But until I went to college and was completely removed from my family for the first time, I did not see life as it was. I saw my expected role in the family and what my “personality” was at home. It was a practice run for reality. Because although I was “free” to make my decisions, I knew if I made the wrong decision my parents would be there to guide me back to the right one. Even in this “freedom”, I was being obedient. Yet when someone is released into an entirely new environment, choosing their peers and how free time is spent, this is where the quality of one’s character shines. The foundation was built at home, now the opportunity is available to take everything learned and apply it however a person wishes. Here, in the midst of true freedom, a person proves to be truly good or merely knows the role, but will not play it anymore.
This article reminded me of my parents. They have three kids, I am the middle one. We always think we are the luckiest kids in the world because our parents are exactly the kind of parents who leave us free. For example, although I know they wanted me to be a doctor when I chose my college major five years ago, they wouldn’t say so; instead, they just tell me to follow my heart regardless of what they thought. Sometimes, I don’t have enough courage in things I want to do, it is my parents who always stand behind me to give me support and courage. It is very true that sometimes we can’t know the meaning of life until we experience it by ourselves. We can’t understand the common values people live by until we are free to pursue them. This is the process to grow up, both mentally and intellectually. Sometimes when I get lost or need some directions, again, I will turn to my parents; and they would lighten my road ahead.
Although some might argue that if a person is left free to do whatever he/she wants, then there will be no regulations and our world will be filled with crazy thoughts and ideas. However, like what Dr. Shaub said, if a person has no right to be free, how he/she could choose to be good.
This is a read I definitely needed right now. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been pondering how I became the person I am today. I first considered my parents and how they raised me. Then I considered the different environments and people I grew up around. However just as you’ve pointed out, as a child I can be steered in any which way yet it is only when I’m free to make my own decisions do the real lessons I’ve learned become visible.
To touch on the rules vs freedom arguments you pointed out in the last couple of paragraphs, I think rules can often be overrated. I say overrated in the sense that not all situations are the same and a single rule can not be applied broadly enough to actually accomplish any real progress with creating ‘good’ or maintaining compliance. Whether a rule is set in place or not, there are going to be consequences for what would be considered as not following a rule or choosing to do bad instead of good. Hopefully those consequences will not deeply damage others in relation to the rule breaking/’bad’ act but eventually the person will see, on their own, that they’re on a downward spiral and need to bring themselves out of it somehow.
I don’t have the slightest idea of how best a parent can instill principles and values in their children but I would wager that leading by example would be the most effective method. I grew up in a household of relatively “over-bearing” parents who would often impose restrictions on our freedoms in an arbitrary manner. Although not being told why these restrictions were placed on us was frustrating, what was more frustrating were times when our parents would habitually neglect to adhere to their own principles they established. As with any followers of ideologies or religions, I think the best method to encourage others to adopt your set of principles is to live them out day to day. Leading by example seems like the only logical way to effectively transmit principles/values – values that could positively impact the process by which others (perhaps your kids) make their decisions.
I was raised in household full of rules and I guess I was always what other people called a “goody goody”. My parents never received a phone call from the school because of misbehaving and I never missed a curfew. The quote in the blog “can only truly be good when they are free to choose” really spoke to me. I am an only child and needless to say the eyes are always on me. In high school I always made good grades because I was scared of the repercussions from my parents if I didn’t. I couldn’t lie to my parents to save my life even if I wanted to, they could tell instantly. Even my freshman year of college, I still made good grades and did all the things I was suppose to do because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. I remember the first time I went home for Christmas I asked my parents what time I should be home and they looked at me with blank stares. Looking back I am thankful for all the restrictions I had growing up. I believe that their rules molded many of the virtues I live by today. I think that I can be good because I have the freedom to choose, but I am still influenced by the rules and standards set during my childhood.
As a parent this must be a hard pill to swallow. Speaking from what I imagine the attitude of parents might be: parents want the best for their children. That means they want them to have the best, but also to be the best. Parents often view their worth in how their kids turn out. More often than not this has to do with the child’s character, not his/her material success. All a parent can really do is instill values in their children from day one and live those values out. In order to truly own an idea, it must be lived out. That seems like it is the scariest time for a parent, the days when their children have to make these decisions without them there to guide. I know for me personally, it took years of poor rationale and decisions to truly know what I want and what is right. For most people there is a growing process, and that usually requires mistakes. I think that is ok, healthy even. As I live my life now I am 100% convinced that the path I have chosen is the path to life, and that is thanks in large part to going through the path of darkness.
I think this class has been taught in the best possible way, and I want to thank you for the opportunity you have given us to be free thinkers.
Often when you have values thrust upon you in the professional world and in parenting, you take those values with you without any real attachment to them. And the loose attachments that ARE formed are severed easily.
I experienced this myself in my transition to college. If you were never given the opportunity to decide things for yourself, it can be easy to swing the opposite direction. I made choices that I was proud of.
That is why I appreciate being able to develop my own values in the serious atmosphere provided by the classroom. I had to make those values mean something for myself. No on else. Thank you.