Friday, March 20, 2009

Character: Taught, Caught, or Genetic:

Both of these children are mine. Both of them have seen character modeled and had it taught to them by the same people. (In this situation I'm defining character as having the internal fortitude to make yourself do what you don't want to do because it is your responsibility)>

Child A: Character modeled and taught for 10 years. After spending the entire day in front of the TV or computer, this child, having accomplished nothing, has to be forced to do a half-baked job on the dishes.

Child B: Character modeled and taught for 5 years. After getting up at 5:30 a.m. to spend 13 hours at a wrestling match, having wrestled six times and been injured to the point that I see pain in his eyes, comes straight home and does an excellent job on the dishes. (He got them done before I had a chance to let him know I was planing to do them for him).

Child B's history prior to our placement is worse. He's lived here less time and yet has 10 times the character of Child A.

Is Character genetic? I wish I had the answer to that question. Because I'm trying very hard to teach and model it. But what if some people are genetically predisposed to not have much no matter what?


CalvaryGirl said...

That's really a good question. Speaking from a Christian perspective, I personally believe it has everything to do with one's propensity to recognize what is sin. You can have two children raised the exact same way, and they can make opposite decisions that has dire consequences for their life, going down two entirely different roads. (I think of Lot and Abraham.) There are so many other factors, but I believe in the end, the ability to recognize sin in the spiritual perspective has much to do with character.

My Blogs: CalvaryGirl- Life, Designs, and Devotions

Jerolyn Bogear said...

That's an excellent question, Claudia. I see it in my own three biological children -- all raised with the same 2 parents. (Who, BTW, are about to publish a book on raising kids through through character-building core values.) I wonder if this scenario is less about character and more about personality. If one's personality is to be a people pleaser, they will work harder to please. If one is a neat freak, they want the dishes done - consequence or not. If another is a slob, they may not naturally see the mess they are leaving for the rest of the family. I just keep remembering that this is all through the growing, informative years. I hope that the character-building values I've raised them with will be remembered in their adulthood. I've done what I could do. The rest is up to them.

Claudia said...

Good insight, Wendy and Jer....

I think it may be personality more than character. And Jer, I'll be interested in that book. Adding kids when they are already between the ages of 8 and 12 really makes it interesting.

Does the book talk about how much of those values are imparted before age 8?

Jerolyn Bogear said...

We really haven't done scientific research on what age to start at, but I believe most of it is early on. We encourage by age 2 to be sure to implement the core values but believe that Scripturally any age will make a difference if done consistently. The grace of God, His miraculous power, and good training can do amazing things -- even for kids who had a rough start. That's the hope I hang onto.